Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A Walk through the Garden of Suffolk

A 14 mile walk between Saxmundham and Darsham along the East Suffolk Line Walk.

It is Yoxford that gives us the name of this walk which is part of the East Suffolk Line series of walks linking Ipswich to Lowestoft. Sitting on the banks of the River Yox and surrounded by three country house parks; Sibton Park that contains large well stocked fishing lake; Grove Park situated in the village; and Rookery Park on the Leiston road, Yoxford had earned the name of the 'Garden of Suffolk'. The whole route of this walk is a pleasant amble through the rural fields of Suffolk with a return journey through the pretty country lanes following the Minsmere river through to Middleton, Theberton and finally Leiston.

Saxmundham to Darsham Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
SaxmundhamView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
DarshamView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
14 miles
Walk difficulty


First Group - Bus Service
Service Number
64 - First Group 64 service connects Ipswich, Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Saxmundhamm, Leiston and Aldeburgh. Unfortunately this was made into a 2 hourly service from August 2015

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
10:30 to 17:00
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Started overcast with some mizzle throughout the day

Walk Notes

This walk was done as the first signs of spring were appearing after a very wet winter. Although the fields were predominantly dry, the ditches and brooks were all full of water. It is also amazing to see just how many natural ponds there are throughout this area.

Yoxford is entered through Rookery Park, one of the three parklands that surround the village, the others being Sibton Park that contains large well stocked fishing lake and Grove Park which is in the village itself. This time of year is probably not the best time to witness Rookery Park as it is rather lifeless in its fauna. The only colour was on the little lane from the park to the road where snowdrops and daffodils littered the sparse woodland on its borders.

The walk can be terminated at Darsham with a return journey to Saxmundham by train, which is an hourly service on weekdays and Saturdays. However, continuing onwards presents the Fox Inn at Darsham for suitable refreshment after a cool and damp walk. The walk through to Middleton was a bit of a revelation, this follows Fenstreet Road and presents views of the lakes by the side of the Minsmere River.

The last stage of the walk between Theberton and Leiston crosses arable fields which were recently ploughed and hard going. I believe a footpath has to be reinstated within two weeks of ploughing, so I think we were just unfortunate to have picked the wrong weekend!

Examples of Paul Richardsons sculpturesExamples of Paul Richardsons sculptures
On the left Examples of Paul Richardsons sculptures; On the right Examples of Paul Richardsons sculptures


Saxmundham to Darsham

East Suffolk Line Garden of Suffolk Walk:The East Suffolk Line walk leads out of Saxmundham on the right hand side of the railway bridge as you head north out of the town. The path is clearly marked using the distinctive coloured waymarkers. Follow the railway line to the Sizewell branch junction, cross the railway and the path leads across the field to a road. Turn right and walk up the road for a hundred yards. A path on the left leads through to the Kelsale road. Cross the road and the path continues a few yards to the right. Where the path branches turn right. This comes out at Redhouse Farm. Turn left on the road and where the road bends to the left take the track on the right past Rubblestone farm. A footpath on the left cuts across a small field then heads down to Yoxford wood then up to another country lane. Turn right and follow the lane through to Fordley Hall, turn left up the hill and when the road bends round to the right theres a path that leads down the hill, across the railway and into Rookery Park. Cross the park and emerge on the A12 double bend in Yoxford. Theres a footpath alongside the A12 all the way through to the Darsham junction on the right. If this is as far as you want to travel a return journey can be made from Darsham station which you pass on the A12. The Fox Inn is on the right at the first junction in the village.

Darsham to Leiston

Darsham to Leiston return walk:From the Fox Inn, head out on the country lane down to the Westleton Road. Walk along here until there is a single track lane on the right. Take this until it reaches a farm on the left. A footpath on the right takes you through to Middleton. The Bell Inn is a hundred yards on the right as the road bends round. Take the path through the church yard and continue up the lane to just past the playing field. Turn left and continue until it meets the road. Turn right and take the track down by Fenn Farm on the right. Eventually this comes out on a lane in Theberton, Turn right till it junctions with the road, turn right and this brings you out onto the main road with the church on the left and the Lion Inn opposite. From the Lion walk south for a few yards and a footpath on the right will take you round the back of the houses and across a field to a T-junction of roads. Continue straight on until you meet a farm on the left. A footpath takes you around the back of the farm and leads alongside the field. Continue across the fields in almost a straight line all the way through to geaters nurseries in Leiston. turn right at the road and a path on the left crosses the railway and leads through to Waterloo Avenue. Leiston town centre is directly left up Waterloo Avenue.

Just one of the numerous ponds that can be seen along the route
Just one of the numerous ponds that can be seen along the route


The Fox Inn, Darsham View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Fox Lane, Darsham

Records show that this has been a pub since the mid 19th century and has been referenced as Cheyny Green (1851), Chainer green (1861) and China Green according to the Suffolk CAMRA website. Traditional family run free house with food and accommodation available. Small rooms beams across the ceiling and open fires. Enormous amount of Fox based ornamentation throughout the bars.


I was somewhat disappointed to find that this freehouse only served Adnams. I had half expected to find something from a Suffolk or Norfolk micro-brewery. Nonetheless, there was no complaints about the quality of ale, and the warming soup was very soothing, overcast day!

The Bell , Middleton View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Green, Middleton

There is rumour that the Bell used to brew beer for the monks of Leiston Abbey which would indicate the pub was here before the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537 which is most certainly earlier than the age of the present building, which is believed to be 17th century. There is no doubt that the church was served by the Abbey but stories about reciprocation by the pub may just be wishful conjecture

The pub is presented as a charming old fashioned village local, part-thatched with a small public bar and wooden floors, rustic table and chairs, low ceilings, oak beams and open fireplace. The ale is gravity served from a back bar. There is a large garden that leads down to a small stream amid unspoilt meadows. this is an Adnams house and as such there is a regular standard selection of their ales available.


You cant beat the Adnams bitter that is served here. Straight from the barrel and always excellent.

The Lion Inn, Theberton View in OS Map | View in Google Map

The Street, Theberton

The pub was known as the White Lion between 1844 and 1881 and it has been suggested that it was also known as the Red lion at one time. However the Lion Inn moniker has persisted throughout, both before and after such name changes.

This is a friendly village local offering guest ales and home cooked food. Accommodation available.


This pub always has a couple of guest ales on offer and on this occasion they were serving Woodfordes Wherry and Nelsons Revenge. The barstaff swooned when a famous TV soap actor entered the building as we supped at the bar. I am not a television aficionado so certainly did not recognise the chap.

Fordley Hall, the presumed location of The Devils Stone
Fordley Hall, the presumed location of The Devils Stone


The Devil's stone, FordleyView in OS Map | View in Google Map

An old piece of local folklore

In his book entitled 'An Hour-Glass on the Run', published in 1959, Michael Joseph declares that in the yard at the now-ruined Home Farm there is reputedly a huge boulder where children were once in the habit of placing pins in the various cracks and holes, running round it as fast as they could, then putting their ears against it in the hope of hearing the Devil speak.

Home Farm used to be on the site of what is now Vale Farm but it was across the road near Fordley Hall where the stone is supposed to be, though I must admit, I could not locate it! Legend states that there is a hoard of treasure buried beneath the stone but that it is immovable. A local farmer is said to have attempted to wrench it away from its position by attaching a team of horses to it but they failed to move it. It is also said to have been the meeting place for a coven of witches.

Rookery Park, YoxfordView in OS Map | View in Google Map

19th century landscaped parkland at Yoxford

Created in the mid 19th century this parkland includes Lebanon cedars, Scots pine, oak and sequoias together with circular arrangements of yews. A narrow tree belt in a horseshoe arrangement separates the house and park from Rookery Cottages which date from the 16th/17th centuries. Along the north western boundary, neighbouring on Yoxford village is Pins Wood, a beech wood with snowdrop's and daffodils in the spring. From the undulating south side there are views across to Grove Park and Cockfield Hall along with the village. Running through the centre of the southern park in a east-west direction is a significant hedgerow that marks an ancient field boundary.

Church of the Holy Trinity, MiddletonView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The 12th century parish church of Middleton

There used to be two churches in Middleton back in 1620. They stood a mere 50 yards away from each other. Their close proximity meant that each others bells would interfere with the others services. This became such a problem that complaints were made to the Bishop of Norwich who resolved the matter by only allocating one priest for the two churches. Soon after the Bishops judgement, the Fordley church was demolished and now there is no evidence of it remaining other than a few stones and a sarcophagus cover on display in the present church. This church is distinctive with its zinc spire atop its tower. The present building dates from the 12th and 13th centuries but it is said that an Anglo Saxon structure of flint and stone pre-dated it, though no traces of this remain. A fire in 1955 destroyed its original thatch roof which has now been replaced with tiles.

Paul Richardson's Steel Sculptures, MiddletonView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Larger than life metal sculptures and caricatures

This is a real treat that makes walking so worthwhile. The footpath that crosses the fields from Theberton descends across a marsh before coming back up to Middleton where it joins the road by a cottage named Ambleside. This is the residence of Suffolk Sculptor Paul Richardson. He sculpts in metal and his house is surrounded by examples of his work which are larger than life caricatures which, to say the least, are impressive. No-one who walks past this house can escape their curiosity and take time out to look at these magnificent works of art. Other examples of his work can be seen on peering out of the top of an Ipswich public convenience and in Ipswich Hospital.


The Theberton ZeppelinView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The story of the German Zeppelin which crash at Theberton in 1917

During the end of First world War the Germans started to deploy vast airships, commonly known as Zeppelins. The 48th of these, L48 was on her first operational flight with a task to attack London. She drifted over Orford Ness and dropped her bombs on Harwich and Martlesham and then turned to head for home. However, her compasses had frozen and instead of heading east, she drifted northwards where she came under attack from British anti-aircraft fire. At two o'clock on the morning of June 17th the Zeppelin crashed just outside Theberton, its fiery body glowing in the sky as it came down and it is said could be seen for miles around. Of the 19 crew, 16 were killed with 3 survivors, one of whom was taken to a local house for safe keeping until the authorities arrived. It is said that the homeowners reply to such a request was 'Not likely lock the bugger in the shed'. Those killed were buried in St Peters Church at Theberton. In the mid 1960`s these were exhumed and re-buried at the German cemetery in Cannock Chase Staffordshire. There remains a memorial to those who perished which is located in the graveyard extension over the road to the church. An inscription reads 'Here were buried 16 German airmen crew of Zeppelin L48 17th June 1917 "who art thou that judges another mans servant"'. In the porch of the church is a glass fronted frame which contains a section of the L48 and below this is a brief history of the event.

Church of the Holy Trinity, Middleton
Church of the Holy Trinity, Middleton

Links and Bibliography:


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery


Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2017-03-18

2017-03-18 : typo corrections, additional images, additional pub details included


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