This family friendly route starts in the historic wool town of Clare in Suffolk, known as Suffolk’s smallest town with just 2,000 inhabitants. The town is a great place to visit on it’s own with a wealth of listed buildings, antique shops, tea rooms and the ruins of a Norman castle.
Plenty of parking is available at Clare castle country park and at just £2 for a day is also reasonably priced. The route starts and finishes from the country park where there are also toilets. The walk is along easy terrain using footpaths, bridleways and country lanes. There are a couple of stiles at the start of the route. At an average walking pace the route will take about 3 hours to complete. I ran the route at an easy pace, taking just under 90 minutes.
From the south west corner of the car park take the path across an iron bridge over the River Stour and then turn immediately left along the south bank of the river. An enclosed footpath takes you alongside the river over a bridge and then crosses a grass field diagonally to another bridge. The river is clear and free running and you should see small trout and other fish in the shallows.
After the footbridge the path goes straight across the next field of crops to meet the road known as Hickford Hill. Turn left and then after a short distance turn left again onto a bridleway. After another short distance follow the track that goes right and up a short hill then left to continue in an easterly direction.
The path follows the field edges eventually emerging onto a country lane, turn left here and follow the lane to Bower Hall. The bridleway passes through the middle of the buildings emerging into fields again on the other side. Continue to follow the bridleway until reaching the road at Pentlow.
A left turn here will take you past Pentlow Mill (on your left) and along the elevated footpath to again cross the River Stour. After the road bridge take the second path on your left which is a permissive path. This takes you along the back of some gardens and eventually through a garden (follow the signs) and up a side passage to meet the road in the village of Cavendish.
Turn left at the road and follow until you get to the village green. Cavendish has been called one of the prettiest villages in Suffolk (and there is a lot of competition), it has many thatched and timber framed buildings anda large village green which is overlooked by a tea room, a pub and the village shop. This is the half way point of the walk and so a refreshment stop is more than welcome. (with the current restrictions due to COVID 19 I was unable to enjoy tea and cake but I will return).
From here walk across the green to the far north west corner between the Church and the School. At this point the route joins the Stour Valley Path a 60 mile route from Newmarket to Cattawade, near Manningtree in Suffolk.
After passing alongside the churchyard the path then returns to field edges before reaching a quiet road. This is the longest road section on the route just over quarter of a mile up a gentle hill before turning left back onto a footpath.
The next section contains rolling hills along field edges where crops are growing including (in May 2020) a beautiful field of blue flowering Linseed (flax).
Another couple of miles and then the path goes through a short wooded section to return to the town of Clare. When you get to the road turn right and then left to get back into Clare Castle country park.
Once you have returned to the country park there is a cafe at the old station and also a tea room at the antiques shop just through the car park. In the summer an ice cream van is often parked just at the entrance to the country park. (None of these can be open at the moment due to COVID 19 restrictions, May 2020).
Click here to view the route on OS maps