Lesser known than some of the more celebrated walks in Suffolk, the meandering, etiolated valley of the River Box is a neglected beauty and regarded by many as the most beautiful of all the tributaries which flow into the River Stour. Spring -time brings the very best the river banks have to offer – overhanging willow, narrow whips fuzzy with green, primroses, arums, cow Parsley and celandines all newly-emerged and the villages of South Suffolk with their washed earth tones and medieval houses punctuate the landscape. Stoke by Nayland has buildings rivalling that of the more celebrated Lavenham, intricately pargetted with the ancient symbols and saints of the times (look out for Farthings house at Thorington Street). The spire of St Mary’s Church lances the Suffolk sky and can be seen from miles away, yet another church built from the proceeds of the local wool trade. Its 120-foot tower was depicted by John Constable (1776-1837) and dominates a landscape also known for its red-pantiled rooftops and farms which pre-date the Reformation in many cases. Also visible will be the less imposing tower of St James’s at Nayland to the south, close to the River Stour.
The map covering this walk is the OS Explorer 196 and walkers can start at the Crown Pub in Stoke By Nayland (CO6 4SE- OS Reference TL 989363). This PDF covering the B0x Valley is also a useful download.
THE WALK – Lane marked with the towns of ‘Hadleigh, Shelley’; Stour Valley Path via Valley Farm (001361); Cross the road B1086 in Thorington St; past reservoir to Wick Farm (011349). Grove Cottage (007351)- Tendring Farm (994353)- B1087. Right, then left- Poplar Farm (978359)- Stoke by Nayland.
En route there are places to eat from High end at The Angel Inn (01206 263245), The Anchor (01206 262313) to The Crown (01206 262001).
There are buses running to the village coming from either Sudbury or Colchester from Beestons Bus Company (No 84) and these run at a rate of one per hour.