Along the historic highways – Mildenhall & Newmarket circular walk
PUBLISHED: 09:53 12 May 2015 | UPDATED: 09:53 12 May 2015
Head west for great countryside and a warm welcome
At West Stow beneath the biggest skies, rows of Scots pines bend in solemn procession across the flat, sandy heaths of the Brecks. Through these lands, the ancient Icknield Way carves its path and historic pilgrimage routes point towards Bury, Dunwich and Walsingham.
Witness our ancestors’ way of life in the reconstructed Anglo Saxon Village by West Stow Country Park before paying homage to Boudicca at Icklingham, then making your way to Mildenhall’s historic market place in the old High Town. Discover Roman buried treasure in the museum, an amazing angel roof crafted perhaps by travelling artisans in mighty St Mary’s and a delightful walk along the Lark Valley Path to once bustling Barton Mills. Trade is still brisk for brunch at the quirky, award-winning Olde Bull coaching inn here, but the village mills have long gone and the river is silent.
Time to dip into Cambridgeshire then, crossing fertile fenland to spot 12th century Isleham Priory en route to Freckenham, a Suffolk village rising from the flattest dark fields, a wooded outcrop crowned by a church. Wander round the unexpected castle earthworks and wonder where the ancient waterways depicted on the village sign have disappeared to. Onwards across the plains, chalky arable lands lead via Saxon King Anna’s Exning to the stud farms of Newmarket, the horseracing capital famed for its four-legged exports. For a refreshing break from your travels, don’t miss Nancy’s Vintage Teashop which does a roaring trade here.
Back on the road, Moulton’s medieval packhorse bridge across the Kennett is a must, but look out for the hidden stony bridge near the mysterious Black Ditches later. First though, it’s time to revisit the Icknield Way, climbing to new heights at Gazeley and Dalham, or detour east to Great Saxham in search of Nutmeg Hall, home of Elizabethan explorer, John Eldred, who introduced the spice to Britain.
Finally, it’s hard to resist an early evening stroll across colourful Cavenham Heath towards historic Temple Bridge and work up an appetite for a Suffolk feast at the Fornham All Saints’ Organic Bistro.