Suffolk walk: Stoke by Nayland

PUBLISHED: 18:04 20 September 2011 | UPDATED: 11:48 09 October 2012

Cyril Francis devises a late summer walk on the Suffolk-Essex border

Cyril Francis devises a late summer walk on the Suffolk-Essex border

This scenic route contains some of the best country walking in Suffolk, offering plenty of slope and variety through rolling and unspoilt countryside along the Suffolk-Essex border. Starting from the high ground at Stoke by Nayland, the walk steadily drops down to neighbouring Polstead, a village best remembered for its cherries and the infamous murder of servant girl, Maria Marten. Other highlights include a delightful area of parkland and a green stretch along the Stour Valley Path.


With the impressive tower of St Marys church on the left, leave the car park and turn right into School Street. Turn left at next road junction and go down a slope to shortly join a footway. Pass the local middle school and in another 60 yards turn right on to a broad stony path.

Follow the descending left edge and turn left at the bottom, just before meeting a building at Steps Farm. Follow the field edge to a wood-sided shed in front, bear left and skirt the shed along with a small earth mound to complete a U shape. Emerge on to a concreted area and afterwards turn left to enter a field with a hedge and ditch on the left.

Leave the field and turn right into Mill Lane. Pass the former Polstead Mill and turn left at the road junction ahead. Cross a bridge over the River Box and maintain direction to where the road shortly bends right. Swing left here through an old metal gate to cross a green area known as The Horsecroft, passing Polstead church as you go.

Exit the parkland on to the road, pass the village pond on the left and climb up the hill in front. Nearing the top, bear left on to a narrow byway to emerge on the village green. Immediately turn right, cross a road and join a path flanked by staggered metal barriers. Pass through two kissing gates in quick succession, keep forward and head into pasture. About halfway down, veer left and continue with a wire fence on the right.

The narrow path shortly runs downhill through a thicket and past a pond to reach a kissing gate. Turn left here and follow the path beside a sloping field that eventually leads to steps in a bank and a walkway. Continue ahead, pass to right side of barn and afterwards take an ascending path through pasture guided by a rail fence.

At the road ahead, turn right to shortly reach a grassy triangle. Enter a wooded area as signposted, look right and take the waymarked path (yellow badges) running through a belt of pine trees, shortly passing a handy-placed picnic table. Keep forward, pass some light industrial units on the left and shortly join a long descending path. Further down, turn left and follow the signposted grassy path that eventually leads to a sleeper bridge and metal kissing gate.

Turn left into pasture, making your way towards and later beside a pool of water on the right. Look ahead for a bridge in front of a cottage, cross it and turn right onto a minor road. Continue to Scotland Place and turn left to join the Stour Valley Path. (Go straight ahead up the hill if you want a short cut back to the start.) Make your way along the valley floor for another 300 yards or so to reach a slight bend. Immediately turn sharp right as indicated.

Cross a sloping field to reach the gate in front; keep climbing to enter the next field and then follow the right edge through a succession of hidden dips. Later pass a four-finger signpost at the bottom of a hill, stay in same field and head towards the top boundary. Exit the field right with a path now running beside the B1069. Turn left into Church Street at Stoke by Nayland and bear right at the war memorial. Pass through the churchyard and afterwards cross the recreation ground back to your point of departure.

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