CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

Abbey roads beckon you

PUBLISHED: 13:12 19 November 2013 | UPDATED: 13:12 19 November 2013

Greyfriars Priory, Dunwich

Greyfriars Priory, Dunwich

Archant

A circular walk from Discover Suffolk’s ‘Treasured Suffolk’ portfolio combines the wide, open landscapes of the Waveney Valley marshes with the intimacy of village churches and mystery of monastic ruins

Just like its near neighbour, South Elmham, the village of Mendham has tales of a ‘minster’ to tell. A mention in the will of Bishop Theodred around AD951 suggests that there was a monastery in Anglo-Saxon times near the site of All Saints’ Church, although no evidence remains today.

Across the marshes towards Withersdale Street a house lays claim to the name, ‘Mendham Priory’, but a few neglected ruins by the medieval causeway suggest a different story.

It was the sheep or ‘wethers’ which gave their name to the valley here, and small flocks still graze the paddocks near Church Farm by the tiny village idyll of St Mary Magdalene.

Metfield, now a village in its own right, was formerly just considered the ‘upland’ part of Mendham and the community had to wait until the 14th century to warrant its own church.

From the marshlands, water meadows and historic villages to the cultivated fields of the Withersdale plateau, this walk leads down time-honoured tracks, through timeless views and is sure to be good for the spirit.

Walk this way

Distance: 8.5 miles (14 km)

Time: 4-5 hours

Terrain: Undulating, but easy to gentle. Mainly quiet lanes and public rights of way. There is a short section along the B1123 where particular care should be taken. The marshland can be wet, so walking boots are advisable.

Directions: Start in Mendham by the Sir Alfred Munnings pub and turn left out of the car park towards All Saints’ Church. The path to the left of the churchyard entrance leads past a WWII pill box which sits perilously close to the church itself and on to the marsh trail along the southern edge of the River Waveney. Stiles and gates act as a guide across the marshes towards the ruins of the Cluniac Priory. Now only grassy mounds and a lonely chunk of masonry, the priory ruins survived into the 20th century and are said to have finally fallen as the result of a wartime bomb blast in the winter of 1943-4.

Continue down the medieval causeway that leads southwards across the marsh to Withersdale Street. At the road here, there is a glimpse of the mansion that now bears the name of Mendham Priory. It is worth taking a right turn to see Priory Lodge, the Victorian folly gatehouse which incorporates some stones and a shield from the original priory.

Turn back towards Withersdale Street (B1123). On the bend of the road make a slight detour into Bluebell Wood to discover more views of ancient arches, possibly from the original priory. Return to the B1123, continue along the road, then turn right into Hunter’s Lane. Carry on to the brow of the gently rising landscape, and after Hunter’s Lane Cottage, where the lane curves right, take the footpath on the left. Follow this path downhill to a footpath crossroads near Villa Farm, then continue and take a moment to explore St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Withersdale.

Return to the footpath crossroads and head past Oak Hill Farm into the village of Metfield, with its community shop on The Street and St John the Baptist’s Church full of medieval treasures.

From the green in front of the church, turn left to the junction with the Harleston Road. Cross over and continue along Mill Lane which soon turns into a track. Take the first footpath on your left past Turkey Hall to the lane called ‘Sandpit Hill’. Turn right up the lane, then take the first turning on the left into Foxes Lane.

The lane continues past Gray’s Farm, another fragmentary medieval moated site. Then, at the junction with Withersfield Road, follow the footpath on the left across the field that sweeps gently downwards, back towards Mendham church.

0 comments

More from Out & About

Tue, 13:26

Beccles & District Museum in Sir John Leman’s House high above the River Waveney, was home to an historic free school for over 350 years | Words & Photos: Lindsay Want

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

There’s nowhere quite like Suffolk during the festive period with so many different places putting you right in the Christmas spirit. Here are 10 great places for you to shop, stay and visit

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Make sure there’s plenty of battery on your camera, you’re going to be doing a lot of snapping. We’ve picked 18 places in Suffolk where you can find the very best views

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

It may be Suffolk’s coastal towns and villages that largely get all the attention but our county town has been one Britain’s most important port locations and has an incredibly rich culture and heritage. Here are 24 reasons you should love Ipswich

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

We’re lucky to have such a diverse selection of towns and villages in Suffolk to explore, experience and live in. Here are 9 must-see streets to consider for your next journey round the county.

Read more
Friday, September 28, 2018

Lindsay Want treads the ancient paths of pilgrims and mighty barons between Castle Hedingham and Clare

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Suffolk coast is a fantastic place to explore, whatever the season. So, whether you love sinking your toes into sandy beaches, cycling quiet country lanes, going off the beaten walking track, watching wildlife, soaking up some local history, or simply wandering around charming coastal towns, there’s plenty to keep everyone happy.

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Lindsay Want steps into the artist’s iconic painting of 18th century Bulmer couple Mr & Mrs Andrews

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Do you know your Bawdseys from your Blakeneys and your Cromers from your Covehithes? Take our quiz to test your knowledge of the Suffolk and Norfolk coast!

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Sitting pretty along the coast and moving a little way in land, Suffolk is home to some wonderful towns and villages perfect for a weekend away, day trip or even a summer staycation

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

EADT Suffolk Magazine regular newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search