I have written pretty extensively about Clare on this site here and here but thought this walk deserved its own feature, being one of the counties loveliest walks and also family friendly- put baby in a backpack or sturdy cross terrain buggy and off you all go. Should you wish to take public transport to the start or end point, there is a bus service (236) that trundles between Sudbury and Haverhill along the A1092, the A134 and A143, stopping off at both places and all points in between. The walk is approximately 8 miles long and classed as easy on the OS map (OS Explorers 196, 210).
We started out at Cavendish Green, bounded by St Mary’s church, the George pub and pink washed almshouses, as pretty and typically Suffolk a view as you could wish for. Pass by Tumbleweed Cottage then turn down a poplar edged path right opposite the Bull Inn towards the river Stour which you will then cross via a weir on along from New Cut. Bridleways, ploughed fields and lanes bounded by hedgerows plus glorious views over the softly undulating Stour Valley make this part of the walk, varied and pleasurable.
As you approach Clare, the grounds and flint built priory will soon come into view as you enter through a stone gateway. Built in the 14th century, the priory has been extensively remodelled and has a shrine, housed in one of the oldest parts of the priory. This contains a relief of the Mother of Good Counsel by the well-known religious artist, Mother Concordia OSB, and is based on the original fresco at Genazzano near Rome. Keep walking and encounter Clare Castle, its motte and bailey set with the country park and bounded by the Stour. Queen Victoria was the recipient of a gold chain and cross found in the grounds by Walter Lorking in 1865 which had been lost there five hundred years ago by Edward the Third,. The cross contained a fragment of the true cross.
Clare is a lovely small town, well worth a look around and possessed of plenty of places to stop, rest and have a drink in. The church, St. Peter and Paul is one of the largest and most beautiful churches in East Anglia, built during a time of great regional prosperity- the medieval wool trade, and is a lovely example of the gothic architecture, popularised then. Known as the ‘cathedral of the Stour valley’ and guarded by ‘Green Men’ which stud the doorway, it deserves a visit too. Opposite you will find Clare’s Ancient House, now a museum and repository of local history.
Walk back to Cavendish via Cavendish Road and Harp Lane, following the Stour Valley Path and Heritage Trail markers for three miles, via Hermitage Farm and Houghton Hall.