Feature Walk: Wherstead And Freston Wood
The Orwell Valley on the Suffolk Coast is recognized around the world for its rich wetland habitat and impotent wildlife, not to mention its numerous woodlands, which at this time of year are likely to be blanked in a rippling carpet of bluebells. This feature walk explores a section of the Orwell Valley, taking in the historic villages of Wherstead and Freston, and the gloriously springy Freston Wood.
Distance: 4 miles / 7 kilometres
Start the walk at the Suffolk Food Hall in Wherstead, and head southeast across the paddocks in front of the hall, taking in the stunning view down the River Orwell. Cross the middle of the field towards the main road, taking care as you cross Freston Brook along a narrow verge.
After a bit of bird watching at the bottom of Freston Hill, you enter Freston Wood, an ancient woodland and a special part of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB.
Leave the wood at St Peters Church, Freston, which was largely restored by local architect R.T. Orr in 1874. It includes an Arts & Crafts styled octagonal vestry and a sensitive rescue of the 15th century tower and 14th century east window.
Follow the lane (taking care on the road) to Freston Village, turning right at the village centre and then right again Bond Hall, towards Broom Knoll. The lane becomes a footpath, and takes you between Cutlers Wood and Stalls Valley, both ancient woodlands and areas of special scientific interest.
After passing between Cutlers Wood and Stalls Valley you’ll reach Valley Farm, where you should turn right. This farm track will take you back towards Wherstead village, wit many opportunities to spot Suffolk Coast wildlife along the way, such as Yellowhammer birds, voles and hedgehogs.
From Wherstead village turn right at the crossroads. As you walk down to the Suffolk Food Hall you’ll have a good view of the River Orwell and bridge. And if you look to your right, across rolling farmland to the hedges and trees, you’ll see a picture of Englishness that helped make the Suffolk Coast and Heaths an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Image by Malcolm Watson, copyright the Countryside Agency. Walk courtesy of Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB