The Gainsborough Trail
Welcome to the Meadow Walk, the first section of the Gainsborough Trail, named after the famous Painter Thomas Gainsborough and part of an approximate 12.4 mile continuous walkable route which will eventually encompass the whole of the Sudbury area, giving access to the best of the countryside in Sudbury, Great Cornard, Chilton and beyond.
The Meadow Walk
The 3.5 mile (5 km) Meadow Walk features Sudbury’s ancient water meadows, which, having never been ploughed to grow arable crops or treated with chemical fertilisers, 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.
Sudbury and the Stour Valley
The Meadow Walk provides a great introduction to the history of Sudbury and the Stour Valley. For 200 years bricks made from local clays were transported down the river by lighters (barges) to London. Much of your route is along the old railway track that used to run from Sudbury to Cambridge.
Stage One of the Meadow Walk
Starting in the south-east corner of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre car park, follow the old railway track, formerly a section of the Stour Valley Line from Sudbury to Cambridge. Look out for the Quay Basin on your right (now the home of the Quay Theatre and Sudbury Rowing Club) as you pass over a railway bridge, from where locally made bricks were transported down the river and then on by sea to London.
Just after crossing another old railway bridge over busy Ballingdon Street, turn right and take the ramp down to the red-brick pumping station below you. Look out for the high flood water marks on the wall. Passing through the gate bear right across the meadows to the footbridge and after crossing, go directly ahead towards the Mill Hotel and mill pool.
Watch out for Kingfishers. Turn left at the mill, walk along by the mill stream and follow the path to the floodgates and beyond it to the Croft.
From the Croft junction continue along the path until very shortly you reach the old bathing pool, where you cross the bridge to your right and follow the riverside. Continue along by the river, passing the Salmon Leap Weir and a WW2 Pillbox on the opposite bank. Watch out for harmless grass snakes and water voles.
When you reach a fence bear right until you meet a wrought iron bridge across the stream, and then bear left diagonally (10 o’ clock) across the meadows until you arrive at Brundon Mill Lane on the far side. Turn left here and walk to Brundon mill with its numerous swans. Over the bridge and just past the mill turn sharp right and then as the road bears left, go straight ahead into the Conservation Area. Follow the path to the next information board.
Turn left where the Meadow Walk once again reconnects with the Valley Trail, the old railway track and another longer walk to Melford Country Park. Heading down towards a cutting with steep sides, look out for a fenced area to your left, which is managed to protect the nationally rare flower, the Deptford Pink and further along Twayblade orchids on the right-hand side as you pass beneath two very fine Victorian brick built bridges.
As the path moves up to higher ground, you will be treated to views of the water meadows and the town beyond on your left and the AFC ground, the home of Sudbury’s football club, on your right. Continue along the track, passing by the ramp to the pumping station on your left, and on past Friars Meadow (suitable for picnics) on the right, until you return to the car park where your walk began.
You can download the Meadow Walk leaflet and Map from the links at the top right-hand corner of this page: