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

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Tracks and lanes to Glemham

Benhall Ford

A 22 mile route that can be either walked or cycled through the Suffolk countryside around Snape, Blaxhall and Glenham

A glorious route through the Suffolk countryside using a mixture of lanes, tracks, bridleways and little used country roads. This can be either walked or cycled and provides a full days outing taking in the picturesque villages of Snape, Blaxhall, Little Glemham, Great Glemham and Benhall which these days is split into two with the A12 separating Benhall Low Street from Benhall Green. Along the route is the Parham Airfield Museum, although this is only open on Sundays between April to October.

Leiston to Glenham Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Leiston View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Glenham View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
22 miles
Walk difficulty


The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. The links include published hard copy as well as online plots and downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map
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Online Ordnance Survey Route
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Online OpenStreetMap Route
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Online Google Route
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ViewRanger App Route
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GPX data for route (download)

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
10:30 to 16:30
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Sunny day that ended in a heavy rain shower

Walk Notes

This walk, although long and requires a full day to complete, takes the happy wanderer across some of the great Suffolk countryside. It can be undertaken as a cycle ride as most of the route is on country lanes, with the section from Blackheath Corner to Snape being the only section that a cyclist would require to walk due to the rough nature of this bridleway.

This route has been amended after re-evaluating the road from Leiston down to Blackheath corner. This is pretty perilous to both pedestrians and cyclists and it is better to take the track on the left as one exits Coldfair Green. This leads through to the Aldebugh road (A1094) where there is a wide verge which can be used to walk up to Blackheath Corner. The track from Blackheath Corner through to Snape village is an ancient road, the main route that once connected Leiston with Snape. Prior to the 18th century there was no main road that led to Snape church as is the case today, the Aldeburgh road merely connected Friston and Saxmundham. This can be seen on John Kirby's map of Suffolk from 1736 where the direct route to Snape is clearly marked.

As one passes over Snape bridge and past the maltings it is worth noting the track on the right opposite the archway to the Maltings. This is the site of Snape Station on the old Snape branch line which closed in 1960. The main station building still exists though little else is there as a reminder. The line branched off from the East Suffolk Line close to Farnham and crossed the river just up stream from the present day sluice, the railway bridge now long gone. From the station the line crossed the road, passed under the arch of Snape Maltings and terminated in sidings at the rear of the maltings.

After Snape we take the junction off to Blaxhall. Continuing up this lane one should take note of the field on the left immediately before the woodland. This is the site of the old parish Church of Dunningworth. It is known that the church was dedicated to St Mary and had existed since the times of the Domesday Book but by the start of the 17th century it had ceased to exist. The last mention of the church is from 1561 and in subsequent centuries the ruins slowly fell to the soil or the stone was no doubt employed for other building works. There were certainly visible ruins in 1735 as these are mentioned in John Kirbys A Suffolk Traveller (pp 31). Several skeletons are reputed to have been discovered in the field in 1841.

The parish of Dunningworth no longer exists having been amalgamated into the parish of Tunstall. The only reminder of the parish is Dunningworth Hall which stand at the junction of the road opposite Snape Maltings. There is nothing left of the church save for any rubble that may be turned up by the plough. There are records of it being in use in 1254 and again in 1561, soon after which it went to ruin.

The route passes through Blaxfield and out to the Glemhams, crossing the main road at Little Glenham and then taking the lane down past Parham Airfield. This is the home to two Museums, The 390th Bomb Group Memorial Air Museum which pays tribute to the 740 servicemen killed or 'Missing in Action' from this airfield and the further 754 who were taken as Prisoners of War. Adjacent is the The Museum of the British Resistance Organisation which gives the visitor an insight into 'Britain's Secret Army', volunteers who would become the resistance in the event of a German invasion onto British soil. This museum includes a unique replica underground bunker which demonstrates the conditions of an operational base from where British fighters would have mounted operations against the invading army. Both museums are well worth visiting although one can spend a full afternoon wandering around the exhibits and climbing up to the control tower. It is a fascinating and thought provoking place and is open on Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from the beginning of April to the last Sunday in October.

The route then makes its way across to Sternfield, Friston and back to Coldfair Green. There is so much more to discover if one looks at the landscape and questions its features. Hopefully more can eventually be included in the write up here.

Glenham Church
Glenham Church


The route mainly uses country lanes and quiet roads.

Head out of Leiston on the Knodishall road, bearing left onto a track just beyond Coldfair Green village. Keep to this until it meets the Aldeburgh road. Turn right and use the wide verge up to Blackheath Corner where there is a track on the left, opposite the Leiston road. Take this through to Snape. The track eventually joins a country lane which leads into Snape village. At the main road turn left and head down to Snape Maltings. Just beyond the maltings a turn on the right will lead through to Blaxhall. Take the first left into the village and the Blaxhall Ship pub is at the end of the road as it junctions with the road around the village. Turn right then take the first left onto Station Road. As the road bends to the left continue straight on up Church Road and follow the lane to on the right before it meets the cottages. Keep to this lane until the second left lane which will lead into Little Glemham. Keep to the A12 trunk road through the village and take the lane on the right as the road heads up the hill out of the village. Continue to the end of the lane and turn right. Keep to the road until Great Glemham is reached and take the first road on the right. Turn the first left and keep to this lane until the firsts buildings of Sweffling. Turn a sharp right almost back on yourself, then the next two lefts followed by a right which ends on on the A12 Saxmundham bypass. There is a pavement alongside the road until the junction into Saxmundham. Take this road and turn right down towards Benhall. Continue through the village and then turn right onto red Lane. Go straight over at the end junction and then turn right on the next junction and follow the road through to Friston. Head for Friston church then follow the farm track back through to Knodishall. Take the road back into Leiston.

glemham phone box - this was being used as an art gallary for postcard sized water colours - excellent!Blaxhall village sign
On the left glemham phone box - this was being used as an art gallary for postcard sized water colours - excellent!; On the right Blaxhall village sign


Plough and Sail, Snape View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Snape Maltings, Snape

There has been a pub here since the 16th century, when it was a smugglers inn at the head of navigation on the River Alde. Throughout this period and right up until 1965 the pub was also the focus for the sailors who traded barley on the Thames Barges that berthed on the quayside.

The pub was taken over in April 2012 by twin brothers Alex and Oliver Burnside. They offer quality seasonal food produced from local suppliers as well as local ales. There is a spacious restaurant, a cosy bar and intimate balcomny area. Seating is provided in front of the pub and there is a courtyard at the back.


We got talking to an old Lady from Orford as we supped our beer on the wooden benches outside this pub. She told us that it was here that she had her first ever had a pint of beer. 'In those days', she commented, 'the Plough brewed there own beer'. These days the offerings were from Woodfordes and Adnams and very expensive at over £3.60 for a pint of Wherry.

The Ship Inn, Blaxhall View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Ship Inn, Blaxhall

According to local legend, the pub was supposed to be called the Sheep, but a travelling sign-writer misunderstood the landlord's accent. As is the custom of many pubs in the area, this also gained notoriety for its connections with the smuggling trade that flourished in the 18th century. Today the pub is a quiet country getaway offering fine homemade food and Real Ales as well as chalet accommodation.


Excellent little pub. Excellent beer but we did not sample the food.

The Lion Inn, Little Glemham View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
The Lion Inn, Little Glemham

A traditional pub located on the main A12 through the village offering home cooked food and local ales in a spacious dining area and conservatory.


Two main courses for £11 on offer here. A good lunchtime chilli washed down with some fine Wherry!

Parham airfield museum
Parham airfield museum


Blaxhall StoneView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The Blaxhall Stone is a circular sandstone boulder some 1.52m across and 0.6m high, presently in the yard of Stone Farm, between outhouses and orchard. A legend asserts that it was ploughed up from a nearby field called 'Wrong Land' at the end of the 19th century by the foreman of that farm. When he found it and later dropped it in the yard, it was 'only the size of two fists', having since grown to its present size and weight of about 5 tons. Once, said George Ewart Evans, a cat was unable to pass beneath the lip of the stone, whereas now a dog could go under with ease.

Parham Airfield MuseumView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The airfield was constructed in 1942 and handed over to the United States 8th Army Air Force in early summer 1943 before being replaced by the 390th Bombardment Group later that year. After the war the runways were broken up and buildings neglected or used for farm storage. In 1976 a group of enthusiasts started to restore the remaining buildings in order to create a museum dedicated to the endeavours of the Allied Forces that operated out of East Anglia.

The museum comprises the 390th Bombardment Group Memorial Air Museum which is housed in the original World War II control tower and the Museum of the British Resistance Organisation which is located in a Quonset hut adjacent to the control tower. Displays include recovered Second World War aircraft engines, parts of Allied and German aircraft, uniforms, photographs, documents, combat records, paintings and memorabilia.


Benhall LodgeView in OS Map | View in Google Map

A manor house had existed on the Benhall estate since at least 1538, when it was leased by Charles Brandon. The property known as Benhall Lodge was originally created in 1638 for the then Lord of the Manor Sir Edward Duke, and was rebuilt in 1790 by William Beaumaris Rush, and then by Edward Hollond esq, in 1810. The mansion house has suffered serious fires in 1885 and in 1967, and was slightly restored and remodelled after each. The walled kitchen garden of the country house is now a separate business concern, but the house itself and the surrounding parkland remains private residential property.


A Curious Ghost StoryView in OS Map | View in Google Map

There is an unban legend which tells a story along the lines of a motorist on a lonely stretch of road, late at night, who looks in their rear mirror to confront somebody in the rear seat but when they stop they find no-one there. Sometimes the story is reversed and its a hitch-hiker who is innocently picked up only to disappear when the driver glances in the rear view mirror. These urban legends are passed down through conversation and story telling and don't have a specific time or location and the people involved are acquaintances of a friend whose identity is unknown.

What I want to relate here is a first hand account of just such a story, although I shall withhold their identity as they do wish to retain their anonymity, I can vouch that the person involved is a close friend and not subject to such wild story telling. The event happened on a stretch of road where the Leiston to Snape road junctions with the Aldeburgh road, an area locally known as Blackheath Junction or Blackheath Corner. The Aldeburgh road continues on to Snape around a sharp corner with another junction off to Friston. It is on this tight bend that the story occurs. This road is a more modern route, the original route being the track this walk takes through to Snape. The friend involved was driving home alone late one evening. It had been a stressful day and she was returning home from a lengthy visit to Addenbrooks hospital when she came to the Friston junction bend. There was no rush to get home, just a thankfulness that home was not far away and she let the car slow down ready to take the turn to Leiston and home. It was here that she glanced into her rear view mirror before making the manoeuvre. She was startled to see someone sitting in the rear seat. The distinct figure of a man sitting in the seat immediately behind her and looking back at her in the mirror. The sight set her heart beating fast and she somewhat panicked, nearly losing control of the motor as she careered around the corner. She slowed the car and braved a second look. There was no-one there! She didn't hang about for the last couple of miles home and refused to look back in the mirror in case the figure returned. This somewhat shook her up and it is something that she will never forget.

The story emerged during casual conversation one evening which had drifted onto the subject of urban legends. So, here is a tangible occurrence of an urban legend involving someone I had known for well over 10 years and implicitly trust. Of course, we could argue that it was dark, she was tired and the shadows had conjured her mind to see what appeared to be a person. Something she totally refutes and is adamant that there was someone sitting in the back seat. Such a spooky occurrence was not something to readily admit to anyone and she did not discuss the story for some time. Eventually she confided to a long-standing friend. The response was totally unexpected for this friend readily admitted that she too had had a similar unsettling experience on that same stretch of road some years previous. She enlarged upon this, stating that there were other local folk who had similar experiences.

Thus far I have found no other individual accounts of such sightings on this road other than the two witnesses in the story. I have found no record of such a history concerning this road but maybe there are many others out there who just confide their stories with friends as this would have if it had not cropped up in a casual conversation. More recently, I have had two independent sources provide references to a ghost story involving Blackheath Lodge which is recorded in a book entitled Ghosts of East Anglia. Blackheath Lodge, sometimes known as West Lodge, is the building that stands opposite the Leiston road junction, on the track which was the old Snape road. Although this is the same area, more details of the recorded haunting could not be recalled and I have been unable to locate this book. There is a publication with this title by the Suffolk author Harold Mills-West which I have myself but there are no such accounts in this work.

River Alde at Snape Maltings
River Alde at Snape Maltings


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

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2019-01-03

2011-09-27 : Initial Publication
2016-02-18 : General website updates
2019-01-04 : General website updates and rework notes, adjust route

  1 comment:

  1. Griff, you're so modest, maintaining anonymity on this quite beautify blog. As we discussed over lunch, I'm now waiting to see your report on the Glamorgan Coastal path, which begins where I used to live, at St. Athan in South Wales. When I get time I'll post an album (publicly) on my Facebook page to tempt you!!


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