Sometimes the simplest and most inexpensive things bring the most pleasure……
Walk along the little lane that turns off Melford Rd (opposite the Chaucer Estate) bounded by leafy hedgerows and the stone walls of the former gatehouse. As you round the corner be prepared to be amazed at the site of a mill pond fed by the river Stour, simply packed with swans of all ages.
Generations of Sudbury children have fed these beautiful creatures and we have been coming here since childhood ourselves- the sight of these birds as you round the corner and arrive at the bridge straddling their pond is simply breathtaking. Make sure you bring a bag of torn up bread or other bird food because at the side of the bridge that straddles the pond is a little gate. Enter it and you can walk right up to the pond edges and feed the birds by hand. They are accustomed to humans although little ones will need supervising of course.
You can then walk along the Valley Path towards Sudbury enjoying the elevated views over the water meadows and the River Stour. At the mill bear right, along the front of the pink Mill Cottages and right at the gate of Brundon Hall, following the garden wall to a kissing gate leading to the meadows.
The pathway is a rough track and bridleway so you will need a sturdy buggy or back pack for younger children. Sudbury town centre is itself approximately one mile from Brundon Mill (photographed at the bottom of the page). Bring binoculars because the bridle path, set snug between hedgerows, provides soaring views over the Stour Valley, the river itself and meadows with grazing cattle. Across the river lies an area known as the Common Lands, some 100 acres of pasture first mentioned by name during the twelfth century. In 1700, Brundon Mill was at the uppermost navigable part of the river but the inception of the railway in the Victorian Age saw the end of river transport in the main after the 1920’s and the Cambridge to Sudbury line which connected Long Melford and Clare was closed down after the Beeching rail reports (The Reshaping of British Railways (1963) and The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes (1965). Continue on and you’ll pass the Mill Hotel, the Croft and enjoy a beautiful sheltered walk along the disused railway, under old brick arches festooned with ivy, past badger setts and feeding grounds thick with blackerry, wild roses thick with hips in the Autumn and sloe bushes.
Sudbury is a thriving market town, established in the 17th century and provided a crossing point between the two counties of Suffolk and Norfolk. You will be walking a landscape that inspired some of the World’s great landscape artists- Constable and Gainsborough and Sudbury is home to the Gainsborough’s House Museum where you will find many of his finest works.
(Photo by Darren Guiheen)
There are several bus companies providing regular bus routes along the main road so you won’t get stranded with tired toddler (or older) legs. Both Long Melford and Sudbury have a plethora of places to eat, drink and attend to toilet needs, plenty of small independent shops, parks and places to visit.