16.0km (9.9 miles), 4 hours 30 minutes. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours 30 minutes.
4 out of 10.
Explorer 196 or Landranger 155. Bures, map reference TL 903 338, is in Essex, 13km north-west of Colchester and 8km south of Sudbury, which is in Suffolk.
This walk has few hills and some pleasant scenery. It should be quite easy going, with simpler route-finding once a couple of farmers en route have been persuaded to maintain their overgrown footpaths. Sudbury lies at the heart of the Stour Valley, designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Much of the walk is along the Stour Valley footpath, which is well waymarked. On the final approach into this historic town, you cross the Sudbury Common Lands, a traditional pastoral landscape which has the longest recorded history of continuous grazing in East Anglia, where the painter Thomas Gainsborough is said to have played as a child, to tea in a converted millhouse on the banks of the river
If you are not having lunch in the suggested pub, you can avoid the detour to Bulmer Tye by carrying on northwards up the road at point  to rejoin the route in 200 metres, at the asterisk [*] below.
You can shorten the walk by taking the delightful Stour Valley – St Edmund Way path from the church at Great Henny  to rejoin the route at point . This reduces the walk to 12.6 km (7.8 miles).
If you would like a long walk you can add the Short Walk version of this walk to Walk 46, Wakes Colne to Bures , making an excellent long ramble of some 20 miles.
Bures(pronounced Bewers) is a village which straddles the Essex and Suffolk border, on opposite sides of the River Stour (the county boundary).The Parish of Bures Hamlet is on the Essex side, and Bures St Mary on the Suffolk side. The village is unusual in that it is served by two County Councils and three District Councils - with two Members of Parliament.
St Mary’s Church in Great Henny has a tower with parts dating back to the late eleventh century, although most of the church was rebuilt in the middle of the fourteenth century.
Holy Innocents Church Lamarsh is one of just a few Grade 1 listed churches in England, and one of only five churches in England dedicated to the infants murdered by King Herod. The original church dates from the early twelfth century and is only one of three Norman churches in England with a round tower.
Sudbury Suffolk is a Market Town which dates from Saxon times. In the late middle ages the town thrived as a centre for textiles (wool and silk). One silk mill remains and markets are still held twice a week in the town square. Sudbury's most famous son is Thomas Gainsborough, the eighteenth century portrait painter, who was born in the town in 1727, the youngest son of a wool manufacturer. He studied in London under Gravelot and Francis Hayman. On his marriage in 1746, he moved to Ipswich, where he remained until his move to Bath in 1760. Gainsborough’s House (tel 01787-372958) in Sudbury is now a museum with the most extensive collection of his paintings, drawings and prints in the world (the house is open 10 am until 5.00 pm weekdays, and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday). Entrance fee (2019) £7.00 with gift aid, £6.30 without.
The Parish Church of St Gregory Sudbury is named after Gregory the Great. Pope from 590-604 AD. A church has been on this site for a thousand years and most parts of the current church date from the fourteenth century. The church is full of historic interest, with an unusually long chancel and an ornate font, and carved misericords in the chancel stalls. One ghoulish, famous relic in the church is the skull of His Grace Simon of Sudbury , a son of Sudbury and one time Bishop of London, Archbishop of Canterbury and Chancellor of England. Chancellor Simon was blamed for introducing a poll tax in England, which resulted in Watt Tyler's peasants revolt in 1381. Cruely beheaded by the peasants, his body was burried in Canterbury Cathedral, with a cannon ball in place of his head, with his head being returned to Sudbury.
Take the train nearest to 9.30am from Liverpool Street Station to Bures, changing at Marks Tey. Journey time about 1 hour 10 minutes. Note: Bures is now a request stop [as of 2018]. You have to inform the guard / ticket inspector on board the train that you wish to alight at Bures. If doing the Short Walk, you can take a later train. Trains back from Sudbury to Liverpool Street are hourly, again changing at Marks Tey. Journey time 1 hour 15 minutes. Buy a day return to Sudbury (Suffolk).
The suggested lunch place is the Bulmer Fox pub (tel 01787-312277) in Bulmer Tye, some 10 km into the walk. It is a bistro-pub cum restaurant and welcomes walkers. A variety of main courses and lighter fare is served between noon and 2.00 pm Monday to Saturday and until 3.00 pm on Sunday. If doing the Short Walk, there are no pubs or facilities until you arrive in Sudbury unless you detour off the route to the Henny Swan at Henny Street, or have a very early lunch at the (soon to reopen) Lamarsh Lion pub (see below).
The Henny Swan, Henny Street (tel 01787-267953) pub enjoys a lovely riverside setting and serves food all days at weekends, from noon to 9.00 pm, with restaurant and bar menues.
The Lamarsh Lion pub in Lamarsh, which you come to early in the walk, closed a few years ago but good news - reports are it is to reopen as a pub mid-June 2018. It might make a good stop for late starters or those doing the double header walk: Wakes Colne to Bures to Sudbury.
The suggested tea place is the comfortable Mill Hotel (tel 01787-375544) in Sudbury. Tea is served 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm, with scones, pastries and toasted teacakes on offer at reasonable prices. The Hotel’s bar is also open in the afternoon for alcoholic drinks. After tea, allow 20 minutes to get to the station.
There are a number of pubs in the centre of Sudbury, including the Black Boy Hotel (tel 01787-379046) and the White Horse pub (tel 01787-313508).
|Updates: This edition March 2017.||
Online version recommended.
An earlier version of this walk was published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 1. We now recommend using this online version as the book is now dated.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
-  Coming off the platform at Bures Station, go down steps, walk through the station car park and bear left down The Paddocks. In 30 metres, you come to a T-junction where you turn right into Station Hill, due east. In 100 metres, you pass Water Lane on your left-hand side. 40 metres further on, the white coloured building and former Swan Inn is on your right-hand side, just before the T-junction with Colchester Street. Opposite the pub, turn left off the road and follow the public footpath sign down the wide gravelled lane along the left-hand side of a building, your direction 20 degrees.
- Keep following the high brick wall on your left-hand side, ignoring other ways off. In 180 metres, the path comes to an end of the hedge on your left-hand side, where there is a wooden post with public footpath arrows on it. Turn right and follow the Stour Valley Path along a car-wide track, your direction 350°.
- Follow this track for the next 1 km until it brings you down to the River Stour. Where the track swings to the right towards a bridge with metal railings, ignore the bridge and [!] keep ahead, to follow the direction of a footpath post along a narrow path into a clump of trees. 40 metres further on, the path wends its way down to a stile, which you cross over into a field. Ahead of you and over to your right is the River Stour.
- Once over this stile, keep ahead and follow the riverbank, keeping close to the fence on your left, your direction 280°. In 300 metres, you will see a concrete pillbox down by the river below and directly ahead a wooden stile. Cross over the stile, which leads you onto and over the railway track and over a stile the other side. 70 metres up the footpath ahead, there is a wooden telegraph pole on your right-hand side, with footpath signs on it. Take the footpath going straight ahead along the car-wide track, heading in the same direction as before.
- Along the track you pass a thatched cottage, a barn and a tiled house, all on your right-hand side, and the foundations and slab of a demolished property on your left-hand side, and after 370 metres you come out on to a road. Turn right along the road, in 60 metres passing the reported soon to reopen (mid-June 2018) Lamarsh Lion pub in Lamarsh, on your left-hand side, after a lengthy period of closure. In 150 metres follow the road as it curves around to the right, past the turning on the left signposted Horne’s Green. In 110 metres you pass a turning on the left signposted to Alphamstone and Pebmarsh. Continue straight on for Sudbury and Henny.
- 250 metres further on, there is Lamarsh Village Hall on the right-hand side and a house called Green Hills on your left-hand side. 10 metres beyond, the original walk route took a turning left off the road, following the direction of a concrete public footpath sign up a car-wide grassy track. However, the recommended route is now to keep ahead on the road for a further 110 metres until you come on your right-hand side to Holy Innocent Church Lamarsh, usually open during the day, and worth a visit inside. Coming out of the church take the footpath directly ahead and to the right of The Old Rectory, on a grassy path, uphill, with an open field to your right. In 125 metres, at the top of the slope, turn left to follow the direction of a footpath post. In 30 metres, by another footpath post, turn right to return to the original TO Book's route, along the right-hand edge of a field, initially uphill.
- In 200 metres by a footpath post, keep directly ahead, to go down into a dip and then up the other side into the next field. Follow the left-hand edge of this field, your direction 250° initially. In 200 metres at a field boundary go under the overhead cables and down through a wooden kissing gate into the next field, and follow the left-hand edge of this field, in the same general direction as before.
- In 350 metres you come to the far left-hand corner of this field and out through a hotchpotch of barriers and a wooden field gate on to a country lane . On the other side of the lane, you will find a public footpath sign; ignore the stile to the right and follow the directions of the footpath sign, going gently uphill in the same general direction as before, now 310°, on a wide grassy track.
- In 80 metres you pass a wooden fieldgate on your right-hand side and go straight ahead beneath some overhead cables, on a narrow path, now with hedges to your left-hand side and a low wire fence to your right-hand side.
- 180 metres further on, you come to the corner of the field and go into the next field.
- In 70 metres, descend to cross over a stile on to a single carriageway country lane. Turn right up the hill, your direction 50°. In 300 metres you come to a T-junction at the top of the hill, with a farm building on the right-hand side. Turn left, your direction 355°. In 150 metres you come to another T-junction, signposted left to Twinstead, and right to Lamarsh. Go straight over the road, following the public footpath sign, through gateposts (the entrance to Valley Farm) and in 10 metres go through a wooden swing gate.
- You then go half-right across the field, your direction 20° . In 30 metres the field dips sharply downhill. Aim for the wooden swing gate which is now visible ahead of you, in the far corner of the field. In 130 metres down the hill, you go under some overhead cables. 20 metres further on, go through this gate and turn left along the car-wide track, gently downhill, your direction due north. In 130 metres take the right-hand fork, to follow the direction of the footpath sign more or less straight ahead, your direction 350°, towards the farm.
- Continue down the track and in 100 metres you go directly past the farmhouse. 45 metres further on go through a gap where previously there was a stile and fieldgate and walk straight ahead, downhill, following the left-hand edge of the field, your direction due north.
- In 140 metres, and 25 metres before you reach the end of the field, turn left and cross over a wooden plank bridge with a public footpath marker on it, then over a small stream, then another wooden plank bridge to come out into the next field.
- Keep ahead, slightly right, following a (usually) clear path up the field, your direction due north. The path takes you directly under electricity cables on pylons. 65 metres beyond the pylons you come to the top of the field, to go up steps up the bank to the top.
- Turn left, following the yellow pointer on the post for the Stour Valley Path, your direction 280°. The enclosed path now follows the direction of the electricity pylons off to your left. In 140 metres go through a wooden swing gate and follow the path on the other side in the same direction as before. Keep as close as possible to the hedge on your left-hand side and, in 150 metres, you come to a car-wide track.
- Cross the track, turn left and follow the path around the right-hand side of a house. Follow the edge of the garden for 25 metres until you come to its far corner, under electricity cables, and by a footpath post. Branch right in the direction of the footpath post, diagonally across the field, following the line of the pylons, your direction 265°.
- When you reach the first pylon, the field splits into two levels (originally two fields, with the bank as the hedge). Follow the edge of the lower field, in the direction of the footpath post, along the foot of the bank. Note: this lower field is often waterlogged.
- 340 metres further on, you come to the far end of the field. The official route down onto the tarmac road is to go left down the ridge, parallel to the road on your right-hand side, and then down on to the road itself. Cross over it to go up a car-wide gravelled track, following the public footpath sign, in the same general direction as previously (320°). 35 metres up this track, you pass the small visitor car park for Loshes Woodland Forestry Commission Conservation Area on your right. (If you wish you can enter Loshes Woodland through the gate in the deer protection fence some 25 metres to the right of the car park and walk on a permissive path through this conservation area, to exit through another, similar gate some 250 metres away in the far left-hand corner of the woodland, to re-join the route). Otherwise, keep ahead up the track, pass under overhead cables and in 50 metres, you come to another Forestry Commission gate. (Again, you can enter the woodland at this point and walk parallel to the public footpath on a permissive path). The public footpath is to the left of this gate. Follow this narrow, often overgrown path, with the Forestry Commission fence on your right.
- In 250 metres you come to the far left-hand corner of the field, where you go over cross poles and over a stile to the right of an electric fence. Ignore the stile on your left, with ‘Private’ painted on it and continue straight on along the left-hand side of the field, your direction 280°.
- In 400 metres pause and look right, where 85 metres across the field you can see where your way ahead continues [!] uphill through a wooded area (there may be a removable insulated break in the fence here). But the official route is to continue down the left-hand edge of the field for a further 100 metres until you come to the far left-hand corner. Cross the overgrown stile (or go through the metal fieldgate to its right), and turn right, your direction 20°, with a wooden fence on your right-hand side. In 80 metres, keep to the fence and the path as they veer right. [!] In a further 125 metres, where you may find the break in the fence , you go left uphill, initially quite steeply, on a potentially overgrown path, your direction 50°. Keep the line of conifer trees on your left.
- In 100 metres you come to the end of the trees and to a crossroads with another path.
- Go straight on up the hill, ignoring paths to the side, and carry straight on, aiming always for the church spire (your interim destination) with your direction 15°, soon keeping the wooden fence to your left-hand side.
- In 60 metres, where the wooden fence goes sharp left, carry straight on downhill along the left-hand edge of the field, with a new fence on your right, towards the church spire which you can soon see in front of you. 120 metres further on, you come down to a stile which you cross on to a road (if the stile is overgrown, climb over the wooden slat fence to the right of the nearby fieldgate). Turn right along the road and, in 40 metres, turn left uphill, following the public footpath sign towards the church spire. You pass Great Henny Rectory on your right-hand side.
- 150 metres further on uphill you come to a wooden gate. On its left there is a smaller wooden gate.
-  This is the entrance to St. Mary’s Church, Great Henny.
- To take lunch at the Henny Swan pub : Walk through the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, and exit it on the far side. Turn right on a car wide track that leads in 80 metres or so into an open field. Keep straight on gently downhill across the field on a car-wide track. In 300 metres at the far end of the field, curve left with a path towards a barn, and then curve right downhill again just before it. Beyond the barn, veer left to a tarmac lane/driveway, and turn right downhill on it. Follow this lane for 1.2km until it comes to a T-junction with another road (with a footbridge over the River Stour ahead). Turn left on this road to find the Henny Swan pub on the left in 250 metres. After lunch, come out of the pub and turn left, to carry on along the road. In 100 metres, turn left up a side road to ‘Middleton only’. In 350 metres stay on the road as it turns sharp right, ignoring a bridleway to the left, and passing the entrance to Sheepcote Farm soon afterwards. Climb steadily uphill for another 1km or so and you come to a T-junction in the heart of Middleton village: go left, here, still signposted to ‘Middleton only’. In another 300 metres the road turns sharp right downhill, with tracks ahead and left. Take the track to the left here, a signposted byway that climbs uphill under trees. In 300 metres, at the top of the hill, where you emerge to see open fields left and right, turn very sharp right onto a car-wide track along the edge of a field, gently downhill with a wood edge to your right. Resume directions below at point  “This car-wide track takes you steadily downhill.”
- To take a short cut avoiding Bulmer Tye (and the lunch pub): Go through this gate into the churchyard, walk through it and exit by the lychgate. Cross a concrete drive and take the signposted footpath opposite, and just follow the St Edmund Way / Stour Valley path (which you have been following from time to time earlier in your walk) in a northerly direction for just under a mile, through delightful, open countryside, to rejoin the main route at point , where, coming from the short cut, you keep directly ahead at the four-arm footpath sign.
- But to continue on the main route to Bulmer Tye: Turn left immediately before the entrance gate to the church, your direction 275 degrees. In 15 metres, the hedge on your right-hand side goes sharp right. But you head straight on across the field, on what may be a clear path (depending on the time of year) and aiming for the two houses on the far side. (If the field is in crop or looks very muddy, go back to the churchyard, go through it and turn left on to a road, walk along it in a westerly direction for 300 metres to re-join the route by Henny Parish Room). In 250 metres you come to the perimeter fence around the houses. Follow the direction of the footpath sign around to the left, along the fence, to another footpath sign 40 metres ahead, where you turn right. In 60 metres you come out on to the road.
- Turn right along the road. In 60 metres, you pass The Thatched Cottage on your right-hand side and 15 metres further on ignore a turning to the right signposted ‘Henny Church’. Follow the road as it curves around to the left, past Henny Parish Room on your right-hand side. In 140 metres further on, turn right down two steps, following a public footpath sign, along the right-hand side of the field, your direction due north.
- In 300 metres [!] you come to an oak tree. 20 metres ahead, cross a ditch and by a footpath post turn left, following the right-hand edge of a line of trees, your direction 295°. In 200 metres you pass a farmhouse on your left-hand side (on the other side of the hedge) and 30 metres further on, pass through a gap in the hedgerow straight over into the next field. Walk along the edge of this field in the same direction as before. [!] In 140 metres, turn left over the ditch, then turn right along a car-wide gravel drive, continuing in the original direction, now within the well-maintained grounds of a farming business. 125 metres along this drive, you come out to a T-junction, and turn right into Little Henny. In 160 metres, as the road swings to the right, you pass a house on your left-hand side called Pitfield Green. 200 metres further on, the road curves around to the right, heading towards some trees. Just 5 metres beyond the curve, there is a public footpath sign on the left-hand side of the road. 
- If you are not having lunch in Bulmer Tye, keep on the road northwards for 200 metres to rejoin the route at the asterisk [*]
- For the main route turn left off the road and [!] follow the direction (300°) of the concrete footpath signpost across the field (which can be very muddy when not in crop) on a path which you may find poorly maintained and or scarcely visible at some times of the year.
- If this field is very muddy and looks too unpleasant to cross, stay on the road for 200 metres, and at the road junction with Ryes Lane, turn left - and reverse the walk directions from the Bulmer Fox pub, your lunchtime pub, that is: head along Ryes Lane in a north-westerly direction for 1 km until you reach the T-junction with the A131. Turn left along the road, and in 170 metres you come to the Bulmer Fox pub on your left-hand side.
- In 150 metres, halfway across the field, turn quarter-right, and [!] aim for the short footpath post with a yellow arrow in the first gap in the hedge from the right by a large oak tree, some 40 metres from the right-hand edge of the hedgerow ahead.
- By this footpath post, cross over two wooden planks into the next field. Continue straight on across the field, your direction 315°.
- In 150 metres you come to the far side of the field, where there is another wooden footpath post. Cross on two planks over a ditch to go straight across the next field, in the same direction as before, for 250 metres, [!] aiming for the trees with a long red-brick building behind them. Once at these trees, turn right, following the left-hand edge of the field, with the trees on your left-hand side.
- 150 metres further on, go through a wooden swing gate, following the direction of the wooden footpath post just before the gate. Keep ahead on a grassy path through a field with young fruit trees and in 70 metres exit the field by another wooden swing gate. Turn left, following the direction of the arrow on the gatepost, into the car park of The Bulmer Fox pub-restaurant, which is the suggested lunch place.
- Coming out of the pub after lunch, turn right along the road (the A131). In 100 metres you pass Church Road on your left-hand side. 70 metres further on, turn right into Ryes Lane, which takes you back to Little Henny. Walk down Ryes Lane for 1 km, until the road enters some trees and curves sharply around to the right. Directly opposite is the entrance to Henny Lodge (formerly known as The Hall).
- Turn left on a road at this junction [*] following the sign for Ryes House, your direction 55°. In 60 metres you pass Lodge Farm on your left-hand side. 100 metres further on, where a small postbox faces you, take the left-hand fork which is signposted as a public by-way. Walk straight down this car-wide track, your direction 35 degrees, past two brick cottages on your left-hand side.
- In 800 metres the path leads down and out of the trees, and on your right-hand side there is a wooden post with various yellow markers on it. Ignore this and continue straight along the existing path.
- In 600 metres, having gone down the hill and up the other side, at the crest of this hill you have a fine view of Great Henny Church.
-  At this crest you come to a four-armed footpath sign (where the path straight on goes through trees). Turn left along the car-wide public footpath, going due north. The short walk from Great Henny Church, and the via the Henny Swan pub route re-join the main walk here. This car-wide track takes you steadily downhill. In 500 metres you come to the foot of the hill (where there are extensive farm buildings off to the right of the path) and to a footpath sign. Ignore the way to the right and go straight ahead along a car-wide track, due north uphill, along the right-hand edge of a field. In 110 metres where the hedge turns right, keep ahead, a quarter left, uphill and in a further 100 metres at the top of the field pass between a gap in the fence into the next field.
- Walk straight down this field on a path between low fences and bushes to a dip and then up the other side, your initial direction 340 degrees. From here you have a good view of Sudbury away to your right-hand side. In 250 metres, you come to the far side of the field and exit it.
- Follow the path through some trees, your direction 300°, as it winds its way downhill. You are now on the outskirts of Sudbury and can see some houses down on your right-hand side. Ignore ways off and in 200 metres, the path takes you up to the back of a row of houses and you follow the path sharp right down the hill, parallel with the row of houses.
- In 100 metres you come out on to a residential street, by a public footpath sign. Turn right down the street, your direction 60°. In 100 metres, you come down to the bottom of Pinecroft Rise and turn left. In 100 metres follow the road as it curves around to the right, past Hall Rise (road) on your left-hand side. 70 metres further on, you come to the bottom of Meadow View Road where you reach a T-junction with the main road.
- Cross over the main road and on the far side go through a wooden kissing gate near a sign saying Kone Vale. Go straight ahead down the path through lawns and into the trees. In 250 metres take the right-hand fork in the path, next to a Babergh District Council sign. 15 metres further on, fork left up the slope with metal railings on to the disused railway line.
- At this point, if you wish to go directly to the station without having tea turn right and follow the path along the top of the disused railway line for just over 1 km, passing over a number of bridges, until the path descends, narrows and exits on the flat through a sports centre’s car park, at the end of which you turn right for the railway station.
- For the main route: turn left on top of the disused railway line , your direction 310° initially. In 65 metres a bridge takes you over the main road. 125 metres further on, continue straight on over a metal bridge. 250 metres beyond that, you come to a brick bridge with a metal railing and [!] take the steps (with a wooden banister on their right-hand side) down to the right before the bridge.
- Go round the wooden barrier at the bottom of the steps and head straight across the field ( Sudbury Meadows ) towards the bridge across the river ahead, your direction 80°. In May /early June there is usually a splendid display of buttercups in this field. In 120 metres cross the bridge (with metal gates at both ends) and, on the far side, turn half-left, heading for the Mill Hotel, the large white building to the right of the church tower, your direction 60°. In 300 metres, having crossed two minor streams, you come across the field to a gate leading on to a brick bridge, going alongside a large duck pond and out to the Mill Hotel, Sudbury, on your left-hand side, the suggested tea stop.
- Coming out of the Mill Hotel, if you wish to visit The Parish Church of St Gregory , then turn left outside the hotel's entrace and it is less than 5 minutes walk to the church. Otherwise, coming out of the hotel, go straight up to the top of Walnut Tree Lane. Turn left on the main road, going into town. In 200 metres ignore the road left to Bury St Edmunds and Colchester. Carry on down Gainsborough Street. In 170 metres down on your left-hand side is Gainsborough’s House. 100 metres further on, you come out into the Market Square. To get to Sudbury railway station, turn sharp right and, in 40 metres, turn left into Station Road. At the bottom of Station Road, the Eastern Station Lounge night club is on your left-hand side and you follow the signs straight across for Sudbury station.