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Walking in and around Sudbury

From riverside walks along the Stour, gentle ambles across Sudbury's ancient water meadows, town trails taking in Sudbury's unique history and architecture to fascinating strolls along lost railway lines there is something for avid ramblers, wildlife spotters to curious culture buffs alike.

Sudbury is surrounded by breathtaking landscape accented by the River Stour and ancient Water Meadows that have inspired the some of the world's most celebrated artists - among Sudbury's very own Thomas Gainsborough.

Take a look below for free maps, guides and tips to help you make the most of your Sudbury exploration. If you'd prefer a bit more guidance why not book on one of our guided town tours? Perfect for the first time visitor!

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Enjoy Some Sudbury Hospitality

Looking for places to eat, drink, visit or stay in Sudbury as part of you walking trip? Take a look at our dining in Sudbury guide with a wide selection of independent restaurants, cafes and pubs for your mid ramble break!

 

If you're walking on a Thursday or Saturday don't forget to drop in on Sudbury Market en route. Looking for a place to stay? Take a look at our guide here.

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Go Car Free

With excellent public transport links and a range of amentities in the town centre, Sudbury is perfect start or end point for further exploration. Sudbury is the terminus station on the scenic 'The Gainsborough Line', a bus network also connects Sudbury to many nearby rural towns and villages. Cycling to Sudbury? 

 

Take a look at this handy cycle route map.

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Let us Guide You!

You do the walking, we do the talking...Mix up your Sudbury exploration with tales of Sudbury's fascinating history From Saxon settlements, artistic inspiration, peasants revolts to Sudbury Silk. Book on one of our Guided Tours to find out more about Sudbury's unique heritage. 

Stour Valley Exploration & Sudbury Self Guided Trails

Walk in Gainsborough's footsteps, discover Sudbury's industrious past and present and the buildings that characterise the wealth of The Wool Towns, walk along lost railways, discover Sudbury's Silk Weaving heritage and the ancient watermeadows - a haven for wildlife. These fascinating self-guided trails are easy going and perfect for anyone who likes a mix of town and country on their walks!

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GAINSBOROUGH TRAIL
MEADOW WALK
TRAIL

Circular route - 4 miles / gentle 

Start Point:

Kingfisher Leisure Centre Car Park, 

Sudbury, CO10 2SU

The Meadow Walk is the first section of the Gainsborough Trail, named after the famous Painter Thomas Gainsborough who was born in Sudbury and spent much of his formative years as an artist sketching Sudbury's inspiring landscape.

The Meadow Walk features Sudbury’s ancient water meadows, which, having never been farmed, are a rich source of biodiversity for a wide variety of wild flowers, insects, birds and mammals. The meadows are carefully managed by the Sudbury Common Lands Charity who continue the old tradition of summer cattle grazing. Along the route you will also discover remnants of Sudbury’s industrial heritage and stunning views that vary throughout the seasons.

Footage following Gainsborough Trail: Meadow Walk.  Credit: Joe Jackson, LakeDistrick-Walks.co.uk

GAINSBOROUGH TRAIL
cornard walk

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Circular route - miles / moderate, hilly in parts

Start Point:

Kingfisher Leisure Centre Car Park, 

Sudbury, CO10 2SU

The Cornard Walk is the second section of the Gainsborough Trail, named after the famous Painter Thomas Gainsborough who was born in Sudbury and spent much of his formative years as an artist sketching Sudbury & Great Cornard's inspiring landscape.

The Great Cornard section of the Gainsborough Trail features 7 miles of varied landscapes from riverside paths, open glades and woodlands to viewpoints overlooking the landscape that inspired Thomas Gainsborough. Discover historic Bakers Mill beside the meandering Stour, ancient Danes Hole where Boudicca’s army defeated the Romans (possibly!), and chalk cliffs that gave rise to Sudbury’s brick-making industry. The views over Sudbury and the surrounding landscape are breathtaking and a rare treat in an otherwise flat suffolk!

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Photos following Gainsborough Trail: Cornard Walk.

the talbot trail

Circular town trail - easy / accessible

Start Point:

Sudbury Heritage Centre, Town Hall (Gaol Lane), Sudbury, CO10 2EA

The Talbot Trail is a series of 14 statues around Sudbury that depict various fascinating episodes in the town’s history over the centuries. The trail is an excellent way to navigate your way around Sudbury with many of the town's ancient natural, historical and architectural gems to enjoy on route.

From peasants' revolting to Elizabethan actors jigging, walk in the footsteps of some fascinating local characters from Sudbury's unique past.

The first statue 'The Town Gaol' and the beginning of The Talbot Trail is situated adjacent to Sudbury Town Hall, in Gaol Lane, near the impressive Victorian doorway that forms the entrance to Sudbury Heritage Centre & Museum.

suffolk threads:
sudbury

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Circular town trail - 3.5 miles easy / accessible

Start Point:

St Peter's and Market Hill,

Sudbury, CO10 2EH

In the 15th and 16th century, the fate of a handful of Suffolk towns was changed forever by the wool trade: Lavenham, Long Melford, Hadleigh, Clare and Sudbury.  By the early 14th century Sudbury was one of England’s wealthiest towns, largely thanks to the woollen industry. Much of this wealth was spent on fine timber-framed houses, and rebuilding and decorating churches.

 

By the 1520s religious conflicts disrupted continental markets. However, Sudbury’s spinners and weavers turned to producing lighter fabrics - today Sudbury's status as the UK's capital of silk remains intact. This walk leads you through the bustling old town with its historic buildings and ancient streets, into Sudbury Meadows. 

 

Find out more about The Wool Towns (Video by Dedham Vale AONB)

Melford Hall to Sudbury:
Three Mills walk

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5.5 miles - moderate route

Dog friendly - please be aware of grazing cattle on Sudbury Water Meadows from May - September.

Start Point:

Melford Hall,  Long Melford,

Sudbury, CO10 9AA

A very pleasant country walk along part of the old Great Eastern 'Stour Valley Railway' which once connected Long Melford to Sudbury, starting from the magnificent Melford Hall. With some fine architectural marvels on route including the three mills that remind us of Sudbury's industrious heritage: Borley Mill, Brundon Mill and Sudbury Mill (now The Mill Hotel).

 

The walk ends in Sudbury town centre via the ancient Sudbury Common Lands. A very pleasant walk with plenty of places to eat and drink for refreshment in Sudbury when you finish. 

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sudbury

Circular town trail - easy / accessible

No prescribed route, enjoy the landmarks at your leisure, a central start point is the Gainsborough Statue.

Start Point:

Gainsborough Statue, Market Hill,

Sudbury, CO10 2EH

Walk in Gainsborough's footsteps and discover the Sudbury that the great painter would have known in the 18th Century. From the Indpendent Meeting House on Friars Street where Gainsborough was baptised, the ancient water meadows that ingnited his passion for landscape painting, not forgetting Gainsbourgh's House - the Artist's birthplace & public museum dedicated to his life and work - currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment project: ‘Reviving an Artist’s Birthplace – a national centre for Gainsborough’. Read more here.

Prefer to walk in Gainsborough's Footsteps with an expert Guide? Take a look at our upcoming guided tours.

railway walk:
the valley trail
long melford to sudbury

3 - 3.5 miles, linear route - easy

This route is also used by cyclists, the Valley Trail is largely accessible. Accessible route version download here.

Start Point:

Melford Country Park, 3-4 Borley Rd, Long Melford, Sudbury CO10 9HH

This trail follows the disused section of The Stour Valley Line railway.  To bookend the rail theme of this walk, you can start at the former Long Melford Railway Station (now a private residence) or at Melford Country Park.  Explore the beautiful Country Park before you embark on The Valley Trail - there are some very scenic viewing points across the River Stour. Look out for the 18th Milestone on Rodbridge Corner before you turn into Borley Road for The Valley Trail.

To start The Valley Trail, proceed past the picnic benches close to the Country Park car park embankment and go through the entrance on your right signed "To Valley Trail". It is almost a straight walk into Sudbury, along the 2.7 mile disused railway line.  Try the Meadow Walk (Gainsborough Trail) for further exploration.

Footage following the Valley Trail from Long Melford to Sudbury. Credit: LakeDistrick-Walks.co.uk

explore
belchamp brook

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9 miles or short cut north 6.5 miles / short cut south 6 miles - circular route

Start Point:

At any point along the Valley Trail between Ballingdon Bridge and Brundon or join at Quay Lane, CO10 2AN

Enjoy Belchamp Brook on a circular walk in this remote corner just over the Essex border from Sudbury and explore the undulating, unspoiled and ancient countryside of the Stour Valley and this tributary. The walk (with a short cut) traverses the extensive common lands that are such an attractive feature of the western side of Sudbury.

 

Join the walk anywhere along the Valley Trail in Sudbury then follow the Belchamp Brook up through the water meadows to Belchamp Walter and Bulmer, returning via Little Henny and Middleton.

A number of ancient churches, mills and characterful historic architectural features can be explored on route including the breathtaking Belchamp Hall - if it looks familiar it appeared frequently as the fictional Felsham Hall in popular TV series Lovejoy. 

The gainsborough branch line walks

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Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail partnership logo

This varied series of walks follow the Marks Tey to Sudbury rail branch line, known as 'The Gainsborough Line'. They are an excellent way to discover some of the most beautiful and historically fascinating parts of the Stour Valley on foot via linear routes, each walk starts and ends at a rail station for a great car-free day out.

Ramble Number 2: 

Sudbury Station to Bures Station: 6-7 miles

Start Point:

Sudbury Station, Station Road, CO10 2RD

This is the area which gave both Gainsborough and Constable their inspiration, but the history of the valley you traverse has its roots much deeper in history than this, as evidenced by the Anglo-Saxon place names themselves: Sudbury – South Fort, Cornard – Corn Land, Lamarsh – Lambs Marsh, Alphamstone – Aelfhelms Farm, Bures – cottages.

Ramble Number 8: 

Bures Station to Sudbury Station

Start Point:

Bures Station, Station Hill, CO8 5DX

This walk follows the heights bordering the eastern side of the Stour Valley through a countryside unspoilt by factory farming. It starts off on quiet Suffolk roads, and crosses the Stour at Henny where it continues via the picturesque hamlet of Middleton and its surroundings before reaching Sudbury via the beautiful water meadows bordering the River Stour.

 

If you have time before you set off (Ramble 2) or on your return (Ramble 8) Sudbury Town Centre is a great place to grab some ramble rocket fuel or to round off your walk with a well deserved meal or refreshing drink - fsearch cafes, restaurants and pubs in Sudbury here.