Sunday, 9 August 2015

Borderlands

Today we're headed just over the county boundary into Suffolk. We'll visit three villages and, unsurprisingly, three churches, but it's far too nice a day to spend much time indoors when the scenery's like this....



...but first I had to do a little road walking, though the wild flowers kept me company throughout.



The first village was Gazeley with its large church at the heart of the community. Rather too large a church it appears, as the parish is constantly struggling to keep the fabric of the building intact, not least because so much of both the church and its contents is so old. 



The village itself is pleasant enough though not as perfectly picturesque as the other two on our route.


                                                                                          
From Gazeley we can pick up a section of the Icknield Way Trail, a modern approximation of the ancient route, which steers the walker away from roads to visit the most interesting sites and tranquil landscapes. It's also waymarked with little signs fixed to gateposts which saved me looking at the map too often.

The path led through agricultural land before diving unexpectedly into a wood.


There were occasional glimpses through the trees out on to the newly harvested fields. These huge square bales are increasingly common these days. 



An occasional exotic tree was seen by the path and paddocks occupied by fine horses could be glimpsed through the bushes. As I suspected, I was getting near to Dalham Hall. The church appeared first, then the hall itself. It was built in the early years of the eighteenth century by the then Bishop of Ely. It is now owned by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai and the Prime Minister of the UAE, but who's probably better known in these parts as one of the world's leading race-horse owners.



An avenue of trees led me down to Dalham village, one of the lesser-known of Suffolk's many beautiful villages. Impossibly pretty cottages line the street which follows the course of the little River Kennett. 



But there's also a relic of the village's industrial past standing by the roadside...



It's a kiln that was used in the nineteenth century for drying malted grain for use in beer-making. Nearly every village would have had a malting kiln at one time but they have mostly disappeared now. This one looks to be in remarkably good condition.



Then it was time to find the footpath, running parallel to the course of the River Kennett, to complete the final leg of the journey to the village of Moulton,.



Now you might think the picture above is of the path, but no, this is the bed of the river which is dry at this time of year. You could walk along it,of course....now there's an idea....I've never walked along a river bed before......I wonder....



It was good walking for a start, but then I found myself pushing through increasingly dense vegetation and eventually water started to appear. I had to scramble up the steep bank, through the nettles and brambles, over a fence and back on to the path that I should have been following all along.



At length I arrived, a little scratched and stung, in Moulton where the church has a weather-vane in the shape of a large fish, possibly because this is St Peter's and he's the patron saint of fishermen. Whatever the reasoning behind it, a fish looks completely ridiculous stuck up on top of a tower. But Moulton is far more famous as the site of...



....a Medieval pack-horse bridge. Before the Cambridge-Bury St Edmunds-Ipswich railway line and the busy A14 road were built travellers and carriers passed through Moulton and needed to cross the River Kennett. The water level is not always as low as it is in mid-summer; at times the river can flood, so a bridge must have been a worthwhile investment. Although similar bridges are fairly common in some parts of the country, East Anglia has very few.

And that's the end of my walk.......Take care.




17 comments:

  1. Very pretty walk John. I love Suffoflk churches and the villages you pass through are lovely. Amazing to see much of the harvest completed. Our corn up here is nowhere near ripe yet.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely walk John. So pretty & green. Love the kiln, I have never seen one like it before. But I did see a pretty little bridge like yours here in France just this weekend. What a coincidence!

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a great walk and that is a fine looking bridge at the end!

    ReplyDelete
  4. More reasons to visit East Anglia! There are subtler attractions than hills and dales.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Feels like a really nice walk through the English countryside.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Another fine walk, John. That old church is quite dramatic. And the rustic bridge is straight from a fairytale.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The cottages are so stunning! Why on earth did I ever sell mine??! The kiln would have fascinated me and my nose would have been trying to smell the malted grain! A great walk once again John.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I thoroughly enjoy your walks and excellent photographs showing off the very best of East Anglia. Before we next visit, I'll get onto your blog and make a list!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Such lovely sights, especially the bridge and the kiln. Maybe next time you can schedule tea with the sheik.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for taking us on this wonderful walk. I love seeing the countryside there. The old churches and buildings are so beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love the melting kiln and the packhorse bridge. I'm reasonably familiar with the area around Bury St Edmunds but don't know any of these villages. It looks a really nice walk -apart from the bit in the river bed:)

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are an adventurous soul, going bush. Apart from that it looks like you had a stimulating walk. The villages are so quaint and pretty. The age of some of those churches is mind boggling.

    ReplyDelete
  13. You take us on the most marvelous walks. Stunning scenery and love those English villages. Walking along a dry river bed is fascinating to me. A marvelous variety of interesting sights here and your photos are outstanding. Thanks for another exceptional tour.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, I have so enjoyed this...I have had this open two or three different times and just could not settle down to enjoy it...so waiting till now to comment. I love that bridge!

    ReplyDelete
  15. How lovely countryside and villages. The houses are fantastic.
    I would like to walk there.
    Hugs

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll try to answer any questions via a comment or e-mail within the next day or two (no hard questions, please!).