An 10 mile walk along the Angles Way from Wortwell to Earsham
It is not often that a country ramble coincides with a Brewery visit. On this route there are two, the historic St Peters brewery and the Waveney Brewing Company based at the Queens Head pub in Earsham. Although St Peters is a little off route a visit to this exquisite old building is thoroughly recommended. Also just off route is the village of Flixton where there is the remains of Flixton Priory and a church with a unique tower plus the setting for a spooky story.
Wortwell to Earsham Walk - Essential Information
Anglian Buses - Bus Service
- Service Number
- 80, 81, 81A - Anglian Bus Company services 80, 81, 81A linking Great Yarmouth, Beccles, Bungay, Harleston and Diss
- Anglian Bus Timetable for 80, 81, 81A Services
- Date of Walk
- Walk Time
- 09:00 to 13:30
- Griffmonster, Kat
- Weather Conditions
- Sunny start with clear blue skies with clouds bubbling up by the afternoon
The Little Lakeland campsite, which had become our base for the three days of Angles Way walking, was a lovely secluded area. The site also accommodates a myriad of ducks that wake you in the morning but that is all part of the charm. That is the sound of the lakes that adjoin this countryside. We had initially planned to stay over for the third night after this walk but the weather forecast had predicted a storm arriving Sunday morning. One thing the Little Lakeland site offers which I have not seen before, is a day pitch. For a fee of £6, provided they are not busy, you can keep the pitch until 6pm. This is a great way of getting an extra day out of a camping trip. On this occasion with the Saturday bringing some fine warm weather and the Sunday having a forecast of a storm arriving it enabled us to have a days walk, then get a dried tent down before heading home. I wish more sites would offer this arrangement.
A visit to St Peters brewery had been recommended to me many times, so with the Angles Way only being half a mile away then it seemed too good to miss. This proved to be a rewarding experience, not just for the beer but for the exploration of the historic St Peters Hall which is well worth walking around. There are plenty of photos of this in the gallery below to whet ones appetite to visit this place.
We did not visit Flixton on this occasion but would recommend looking around the place. Flixton can be reached from either of the two roads that the Angles Way crosses as it heads across the fields to St Peters Hall. The second road passes the remains of the old Priory and the church is worth a visit to see the unusual tower. There is also an air museum by the village pub. The village holds a lot of old memories for me as I had friends who lived there and spent many long weekends staying at the place. This is the setting of a spooky tale that occurred on my first ever visit and is worth retelling.
The path meanders down to the Bungay road then crosses Stow Fen to the river crossing at Earsham. On this occasion this meadow had been sectioned off with electric fences and the official route went through this. The landowner had put a little insulation over the wire at the crossing points. However one needed to either be a giant to step over this wire or a midget to get under it. I am 6ft tall and I had difficulty in stepping over this and with ones tackle so close to a shock it was not worth the attempt. In the end we went to the end of the fence and unhooked the connection to get around.
The Angles Way navigates out of Diss alongside the parish church. The route is then well marked through to Harleston and Mendham where there is a path across to Wortwell.
Wortwell to Earsham
Follow the road eastwards out of Wortwell and turn right at the junction. The Angles Way is met at the junction into Homersfield. From here the route is waymarked through to Earsham. The only hazard along the route is the electric fences that partition the meadow on the Suffolk side of the river at Earsham. These are too high to step over and it is much easier to navigate to the end of the fences and unattach the hooking mechanism to pass through.
Extension to Flixton
The path follows the border to Coombes Wood before emerging onto Grange Road by Halesworth Lodge. The route then continues along the road until there is a track on the right. Keep to this road for Flixton. At the junction, Flixton church is directly opposite with the Old Rectory in the grounds by the side. Take the lane to the right and keep to this The remains to Flixton Priory can be found on the right by the double bend. Continue along this road until the Angles Way crosses.
Extension to St Peters Brewery
From the Flixton road continue along the Angles Way past Sternacre Farm. This is open fields and the path follows the field boundaries. There are three footpaths that lead off to the right, one just before the farm, the second a little way after and the third beyond that. Take the third which leads directly up to St Peters Hall.
St Peters Brewery, Bungay View in OS Map | View in Google Map
- South Elmham, Bungay
The bar and restaurant is located in St Peters Hall and is open each day apart from Monday with evening opening at the weekends. A wide variety of their large collection of ales are available in bottle with a cask ale also available.
We arrived early and had to wait about 40 minutes for the bar to open. But what a place to relax in, sitting on garden chairs looking over the moat. Once the bar opened I think we spent more time exploring the building than drinking our beer such is the wonder of this historic old place. Eventually we settled down to revel in the paneled surroundings and drink a beer. There was just one ale on cask, the St Peters Bitter which was a wonderful bitter beer. Kat went for the more fruity bottle of Grapefruit beer and refreshing golden ale which does what it says on the bottle - tastes of grapefruit.
Queens Head, Earsham View in OS Map | View in Google Map
- Station Road, Earsham
This former Coaching Inn dates back to the late 1600's. The building is timber framed house and inside is a date carved in a brick denoting 'WR 1683'. A traditional pub bar is decorated with hundreds of drip mats from the many beers that have guested on the hand pumps.
In addition to the guest ales the pub is also the home of the Waveney Brewing Company and has the three regular ales, East Coast Mild, Lightweight and Welterweight, always available. The brewery was started in March 2004 and employs a 5 barrel plant.
The pub is also renowned for its hand raised pork pies which are offered with or without jelly.
We only had a little time to spend here before our bus arrived but that time was well rewarded with a sample of the Waveney Brewing Companys ales and one of their pork pies with lashings of mustard. Kat opted for the Lightweight bitter and I had the Welterweight, a golden honey beer that went down really well with the pork pies. The pork pies were probably the best I have ever tasted and I thoroughly recommend them as a lunchtime treat. Good beer. Good food. Friendly hosts. What else could one ask for.
The Ghostly Tale of Flixton RectoryView in OS Map | View in Google Map
It was way back in 1978 that I first visited the village of Flixton which is found on the Bungay to Homersfield road, just off route of the Angles Way which passes to the south. The visit was with a group who had been offered a weeks stay in the Suffolk countryside in exchange for a few hours work each day to build an adventure playground for the village. The rector of the parish had once been in the clergy of my home town of Rushden and this is how the connection had been made with the group. His name was Peter and he was an old Gurkha soldier and had taken up the post in Flixton with his wife and young son. He was a pleasant yet strict and disciplined man who drove an old Morris Traveller and enthused for the country Suffolk life. The visit was to set a lifelong affection for Suffolk and bring new friendship with some of the local villagers and folk from Bungay which lasted for many years though sadly we have now all gone our separate ways.
Although not specifically a ghost story this was nonetheless a spooky occurrence which I have never found a satisfactory explanation for. The visit saw a group of about 15 of us mid-to-late teenagers stay over at Flixton Rectory. This was a large Victorian brick building that sat adjacent to the church on the southern edge of the village. Between the church and the rectory was a large lawn and in front of the building was a graveled drive bordered by a wooded area on a bank that separated the grounds from the lane into the village. A porched entrance led into a hallway with a large staircase on the right and a door on the left that led into a huge drawing room with large sashed windows that went almost down to the ground giving some splendid views overlooking the lawn and 18th century church with its distinctive tower. At the end of the hallway was a scullery where we would take it in turns to prepare meals and wash up. There was also an intriguing sunken courtyard that was designated out of bounds during our stay, this rule being clearly laid down when Peters wife listed a series of regulations which we had to abide by for the duration of our visit. The door to the courtyard was off the hallway, just beyond a second door to the drawing room and it was kept bolted and latched and that had to remain that way. Upstairs was Peters family area plus a host of spare rooms which had been made up into dormitories for our stay. The girls had the best room which was an airy and well kept first floor bedroom. Phil and his wife Jenny, the organizers of this working holiday, had a separate first floor room and us boys were split, some having an attic room and four of us, including myself, being allocated to a ground floor room adjacent to the staircase at the front of the building overlooking the gravel drive. In addition to this, two lads were to arrive the following day and they were to set up camp in the garden.
On the first night, the exuberance of youth and the freedom of being away from home ended up with a group of us, including myself, being given a severe ticking off by Phil. He threatened to send us home the next day, declaring that he would personally drive us back if our behaviour did not improve. This outburst had followed our retirement for the night when we soon discovered that it was easy to open up the dormitory window and escape into the garden which gave immediate thoughts of devising a prank for when our friends arrived the following evening. We would slip out through the window and pull the guy ropes from their tent. The commotion we made in planning the scheme, opening and closing the window and the ladish laughter of falling out of the window in the dark was a final straw that enraged Phil to declare his ultimatum.
After Phil's outburst the dormitory fell into absolute silence. All plans and schemes to sabotage our friends camp were put permanently on ice and not a word was spoken about it. No-one had witnessed Phil lose his temper in such a fashion before and it was best to settle down for the night and keep the peace. I couldn't sleep and spent some long restless hours watching shadows play on the curtains and glimpses of light creep through the top gap of the curtains and flicker across the ceiling. I couldn't work out where these shadows or light were coming from as the rectory was secluded and there was no street lights nearby and no exterior illumination around the building. I had to accept that it was the moonlight but could not work out why the shadows were moving as there was little breezes about. Accompanying this shadow-light show was a continual sound of footsteps on the gravel drive. They would pace up to the front window, then pace around the building where there was a second window almost invisible in the darkness of the room, then return back to the front window. This routine was repeated for what seemed like hours. The sound was a firm and distinct pace. Not a march but a positive purposeful footstep. A crunch crunch. Then stop. Then crunch crunch crunch as it moved around the building. Although logic stated that it should be some wild animal, the pacing did not sound like a four footed step. It was a distinct two step pattern. Certainly a heavier trudge than something like a fox. Maybe a deer but why was there only two steps. Definitely two steps. No sound of sniffing or snouted investigation. Just the continual trudge back and forth from one window to the other with short breaks in between and the play of shadows on the curtains bearing no relation to the movement of the footstep. The others in the dorm were fast asleep by this time, I could tell that from the heavy breathing. I really wanted to take a peek outside but the shadows playing on the curtains and ceiling and the footsteps spooked me. Eventually I drifted into sleep but the thought of the sounds stayed with me to the following morning, when, despite questioning the other lads in the dorm, none professed to have heard anything let alone see the shadows and lights. I spoke little of it preferring to put it down to something logical though unknown.
As planned, the next day our two friends, Ronnie and Dave, arrived and pitched up a large 4 berth frame tent on the lawn, adjacent and in front of the building just beyond the gravel drive. The day was spent working, digging and putting together the start to the adventure playground. By the end of the evening we were all shattered and it was not long before sleep took hold that night.
The following morning, as was the routine, we all breakfasted together in the main room of the Rectory. A long table was set up across the room for mealtimes then moved away to the far wall once we had finished so that we had space to rest and socialise in. Dave and Ronnie came in from their camp outside. They were in a very cheery mood, laughing and joking and poking fun at the four of us who occupied the ground floor dormitory. We soon gathered that their taunts were mocking our attempts to sabotage their tent during the night. They claimed that they had heard us walking around the tent and assumed we had climbed out the window and were sneaking around the tent waiting for a discrete moment to pull the pegs from the guy ropes. But, as they proudly related, our attempts had been thoroughly thwarted as each time an attack was launched they quickly emerged from the tent to ward us off. The only question they had was on our hiding place as each time they emerged, not once did they actually see us. Somehow, in an instant, we had disappeared into the night and no matter how much they had searched around the house and the wooded area and even in the church graveyard they could never discover our hiding place. They knew it was us. They knew us far too well and had almost suspected something like this would happen.
There could be no answer but a total denial to these allegations. That was something Ronnie immediately refuted. They had heard us. They knew we had been out there. Eventually they saw the seriousness of our argument, and, backed up with the fact that we had been severely reprimanded when we were planning such an escapade the previous night, they had to face up to the fact that we were not out there. Their faces changed at this realisation. We sat down to breakfast and the story spread to all across the table. Who was traipsing around the tent in the dead of night? Where were they hiding? What were they doing? At no point had either Dave or Ronnie contemplated that it was anything other than a person. It was a persons footsteps. Circling the tent. Over and over. That was definite. No doubt about it. The footsteps crunched on the gravel behind the tent then went soft as they walked around to the front of the tent.
Dave was the one to devise a plan to catch the perpetrators, assuming all the time that it was us. They waited in absolute silence for the steps to draw level with the tent door when they sprang open the zip to catch us red handed. The first attempt they found no-one there and immediately retired back to the tent assuming they had disturbed us before they could get out of the tent. They waited and within minutes the footsteps returned. Once again, more shrewdly, they sprang from the tent only to find no-one there. They became a little more devious assuming they needed a quicker response to catch the culprits and left the zip open with the tent door hanging loosely. Once again the footsteps returned and this time, as the sound approached the tent door they sprang forward straight out into the open air without any hindrance. No-one was there. They looked all around expecting to see someone scampering away but saw no-one. All was quiet and still. They stood and listened expecting to hear a suspicious giveaway voice or a crunch of undergrowth but there was nothing. They wandered around the tent. They peered into the wooded area. Nothing. They scanned across the garden. Nothing. There was nothing else to do but return to the tent. Once again no sooner than they had settled down than the footsteps returned. This time they darted out armed with torches. Once again no-one was there. There was no sound of anyone running away. No sign of any movement other than the flapping of the tent door. This time they decided to do a full search with the torches. The garden. The woods. The graveyard. There was no-one there. No sign of any life at all. They had to give up and thinking the culprits would eventually get bored they decided to ignore the footsteps and ended up drifting to sleep.
Peter, who had joined the breakfast table and sat listening with intrigue soon concluded that it was just an animal, probably a fox. Dave, who was a logical and level headed individual, adamantly refused to believe that as the sound was such a solid footstep. Two steps walking around the tent. And, if it was an animal why did they not see it scampering away each time they emerged from the tent. There was no sound or sight of anything running away. They couldn't explain it other than it had to be a local villager with a secreted hiding place. Peter denied that any villager would be snooping about at such a time of night and it was an animal. They had to agree to disagree.
These events would probably have been forgotten about but for what happened the following night. In the early hours of the morning, unable to sleep I got up and wandered out of the dorm. I don't really know where I was going to go. Probably just to sit in the drawing room. As I emerged into the hall I found Mike, who was supposed to be in the upper floor dormitory, sitting on the stairs. I have to admit it startled me seeing him there with no lights other than the dim glow from a lamp on the upper floor landing. He couldn't sleep either and it wasn't long before we made a decision to pop outside and see if our friends in the tent were still awake.
We quietly opened up the main door to the rectory so as not to draw any attention then paced across the gravel and over the grass to the tent. As we approached the front of the tent, which faced the graveyard, the zip was urgently ripped apart and the canvas door flung open. There was a definite sigh of relief from the face that appeared at the door. It was Dave, letting out his relief at being greeted by friendly faces, admitting that he had expected the same empty space as the previous night. They had heard our footsteps. Exactly the same as the previous night. Without a doubt the sound was identical. The route the same, around the back of the tent, onto the grass and to the front of the tent. The same routine. They had to question us once again, trying to get us to admit that it had been us the night before. The answer was a definite no.
After brewing up some coffee on their camp stove we spent an hour sitting and drinking and discussing the mysterious events. Our footsteps gave them the definitive evidence to conclude that it was a persons footsteps and certainly not an animal. Even with all these strange happenings the discussion was more toward logical explanations. A tramp. A local youth having fun. But it did not explain how they could get away so quickly and silently. That was a complete mystery.
With the coffee drank Mike and myself left the campers to turn in for the night. But before heading back to the house we decided to have a wander around the garden just to see if anything was out there. It only took a few minutes to wander across the lawn to the far side where there was a small orchard with a hedged border. Then following this to a stone wall that bordered the graveyard which led down to small wooden gate in line with the front of the house. The graveyard looked spooky but not scary with the distinctive silhouette of the church tower pointing toward the starry sky. The air was cool but not cold. The night was quiet and serene. Not even the hoot of an owl. There was definitely no ill feeling or malice about the night, in fact I could even go so far as saying it was somewhat comforting and the wonder of the stars had soon changed the topic of conversation to life and the universe and everything. The talk was whispered, thoughtful and deep as we wandered back around the perimeter in a slow aimless pace. I think it was the third time we arrived at the graveyard gate and turned in line with the house that things changed. Something spooked Mike. He let out a short sharp exclamation. Not a yell. Just a firm expletive and he immediately pointed an outstretched arm directly ahead. In an instant I had looked up from my gaze down at the lawn but all i saw was a flash of light from in front of the house, somewhere around the entrance and probably 8ft or more in the air. It was just a flash that quickly diminished to darkness. I asked what he had witnessed but he would not elaborate. I confirmed that I saw a flash of light but he still would not expand upon the matter, instead he hastily ushered that we should return to the house and sauntered off with a sense of urgency to the front door with myself following.
The door was quietly opened and we sneaked in to the foot of the staircase where Mike sat down on the bottom steps. He didn't want to talk about what had happened outside. I probed for more explanations but he remained speechless. I sat down on the same step hoping a little more revelation would eventually slip. The house was in silence. The upstairs lamp provided enough diffuse light to make out the hallway, the stairs, the front door and the door to the main room. There was the distant sound of sleeping. Not snoring. Just deep breathing. It was almost funny but not worth laughing at. We sat. Silently contemplating. Wondering. Then out of this peace came a metallic click and the distinct sound of a door slowly swing open. Not a creak but the positive sound of a door hinge. It had blatantly come from downstairs. From along the hallway. Our immediate thought was someone had got up to go to the loo and was coming back to bed but no-one appeared. A minute later I ventured down into the gloom to try to find what door had opened. Even now, despite what had happened prior to this, the logical was still the first thing that came to mind. Someone up to find the loo? A cat got into the house? The hallway disappeared into the darkness but there was enough light to tell that the far door to the main room was definitely closed, as was the closet door opposite. A few yards beyond this the culprit door lie open. It was the door to the sunken courtyard allowing sight of the top steps that led into complete darkness. As stated before, this was declared out of bounds to us and the door was always kept latched and bolted. It had been bolted earlier. That was for sure as I had used the loo opposite before retiring to bed. I could feel my heart pacing with the realisation that somehow by some means the door had unbolted and had swung open of its own accord. I didn't want to stick about. I returned to Mike with the revelation and that was it, he announced it was time for his bed and hastily headed up the stairs and I certainly wasn't going to stick around and went straight into the dorm. I didn't take off my cloths just dived for cover of the bedsheets. That was spooky. That was unexplained.
No resolution was ever found to the footsteps or the courtyard door spontaneously opening. The door was closed and bolted when I arose the next day and no-one would admit to either leaving it open or locking it back up. At one point during the following days people were becoming a little frightened by these mysterious events. Noises in the house started to hackle nerves. A sense of eeriness descended about the building. Chris, who shared the downstairs dorm, claimed to see someone or something lurking in the woods. Peter the Rector tried to calm things down stating that there was and never had been any ghostly phenomenon in or around the house and he offered to sit up all night to prove the point. He did have a calming effect on his visitors and the rest of the weeks stay was uneventful other than early one morning when a thunderstorm had lightening hit the church tower which knocked out all the electricity to the Rectory. The bang was so great that I initially thought it was the rectory that had been hit and ran to evacuate those still in bed.
Those mysterious experiences were talked about for years afterwards but it did not put off a small group of us regularly returning to Flixton, sometimes staying over at the Rectory and sometimes at friends in the village. On one particular visit Peters son, a lively and boisterous 8 year old, confided that he had seen a ghostly form of an old woman wandering along the hall of the Rectory on a few occasions. Whether this was just childish stories or attention seeking I cant tell. No other encounters were ever had despite numerous stays in the building, though these were all staying over in the attic room. There were creaks and noises but such sounds are expected in old buildings. On subsequent visits Peter took us down to the sunken courtyard which was a bit of a storage area that he was trying to restore back to a usable space. There was nothing spooky about it though it did have an air of old Victorian times as if it had been stuck in a time-warp. There have been many many times we had sauntered back to the Rectory from the Buck Inn, tumbling through the graveyard in pitch blackness on moonless nights. It was always spooky to a certain degree but a spookiness that we was familiar with.
The only other strange event was one weekend when we were staying with friends in Flixton, just up the road from the Buck Inn. One morning as we were outside in the summer sunshine the distant sound of chanting could be heard carried on the breezes. It was a shrill chanting like children that was somewhat disordered but nonetheless still still a chant. It could be only be heard from the front of the house and appeared to emanate from the south above and beyond the grassed bank by the side of the road. We wondered whether it was a school playground but our hosts told us that there were no schools in that direction, it was only fields, and it was the weekend.
A few weeks later, still curious about the original experience at the rectory, I had been regularly perusing through books in the local library in search of any Suffolk tales and legends that may cast a light on the uncanny experience. Eventually I came across one specific book with tales and legends of Suffolk within it. There was nothing specifically about Flixton Rectory and nothing about ghostly footsteps other than the infamous Black Shuck, however it did contain a short description concerning a tale of folk hearing a ghostly chanting that issued from Flixton Priory. The chanting we heard was not monk-like and for years I did not correlate what we heard with being a ghostly monks chant despite finding that the Priory was in the direction the sound had issued from. But more recently I found out that the priory was founded in 1258 by Margery de Creke and was an order of Augustinian nuns dedicated to the Blessed Virgin and St Catherine. Nuns would certainly have a higher pitch which could be confused with a child's chant. After all these years I find this very uncanny.
So what of the spooky footsteps? I have since spent many years camping including wild-camping and certainly know various animals steps. These are distinctive, combined with sniffing, scurrying and the sounds of investigation. The steps are never regularly paced or heavy but more random. What we heard at Flixton Priory was most definitely something different. Whether they were ghostly phantom or a very light-footed villager or even Black Shuck is unknown. What I do know is the experience is one that will never be forgotten.
Today the rectory is a Guesthouse and despite trawling through various reports and reviews online from people who have stayed there I have yet to find anyone who has had any spooky experiences. But maybe you know better.......
St. Peter’s HallView in OS Map | View in Google Map
The oldest part of this magnificent building is the Library Bar which dates from around 1280. With the dissolution of the monasteries in 1530's, the artifacts and even the building materials from these religious establishments was sold off to provide cash for the Crown. Mr Tasburgh, the then owner of the Hall took advantage of the times and purchased the ecclesiastical windows and the valuable Caen Stone, which originated from Normandy, from Flixton Priory in order to build an extension to the Hall.
Partly surrounding the Hall is a moat which is said to date from the 11th or 12th century and would have originally completely surrounded the house. It is thought such moats were used as a defence against raiding Vikings and are a common feature in this region.
The present day building has a fascinating array of features including a carving on the front facade depicting the wheel of St Catherine, a tombstone in the entrance, several scratch dials, 17th century graffiti around the fireplace and a small chapel that is located above the front porch. The interior is decorated with 17th and 18th century furniture and there is a banqueting hall for special occasions. Opposite the Hall is the brewery housed in former agricultural buildings and tours are always available.
It is said that there are secret passageways that ran from the Hall St Peters Church. These are reputed to have been used by the Tasburgh family to continue their catholic doctrines after Henry VIII had broke away from the jurisdiction of Rome. The children of the Creasey family who had stayed there from 1946 to 1969 also attest to feeling ghostly presences in the bedroom and landing and in the little chapel over the front porch although they never caught sight of any ghostly phenomenon.
Homersfield Village SignView in OS Map | View in Google Map
On the junction of the road into Homersfield stands a tall wooden sculpture, which can be described as a totem pole topped with a carved man sitting in a boat with one hand dangling over its side. Around the base are carved fish and the words ;I dreamed of a beautiful woman who carried me away'. The sculpture was erected as Homersfields Millennium Memorial as is carved from a single trunk of a Cedar of Lebanon tree that came from Blickling Hall in Norfolk. Th work was undertaken by local sculptor Mark Goldsworthy of Bungay. It's location is the former river bed and the inscription refers to Roman times when th River Waveney was called Alveron which has the meaning 'Beautiful Woman'
Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information
Summary of Document Changes
Last Updated: ... 2016-01-16