CIRCLE THE VILLAGE
Appox 6.5 Miles
As we saw in the walk to Assington it is possible to connect with a distant village by footpath and we shall explore other such routes in later updates. Previous footpath wardens worked hard to establish or retain and maintain a footpath network which is actively used today. It's continuance into the future is only assured if we value and use these footpaths.
For this walk, OS Explorer 196 covers the area and a notice board practically opposite The Fleece provides a large scale map of Boxford and vicinity, including paths, if you wish to see the route, or plan your own.
We are going to begin by leaving Boxford, as we did before, by climbing School Hill to the A1071, turning right and then crossing the A1071 almost immediately to the path opposite on the left. Climb up the steps, turn left and then left again at the field end. Walk on down the valley ignoring the path on the right and the path lower down at the field edge bearing left. Continue instead straight down to Stone Street Road where you turn right (you can also turn left here back to Boxford if you wish) then walk along to a footpath on your left. By the way, you may wish to pause a moment in Stone Street, once a self contained hamlet with shop and public house, and see if you can spot where they were.
Afterwards, join the foot path and continue through a gate, over a bridge(the River Box) to a stile in the meadow corner. This meadow may be soggy and if so, you will have to pick your way. Cross this stile, then climb the valley following the path to right and left until, at the top,the path bears to the right beside a track which becomes a driveway. Ensure you keep on the footpath with the track to your right and continue until steps which take you to the A1071. Cross the road, turn left and walk along to a footpath on your right where you go down and across a field.
You can turn left to return to Boxford along the bottom of the field but we continue right along the path, through a copse which can be wet and difficult to negotiate, until we reach a field where we turn left and then right around its edge. Walk 150-200 meters and a path is signposted by a bridge pointing up a wide field edge path with a hedge on it's right. At present this post is awaiting replacement and, if missing, be assured, the path leads up the field. The path joins a road to the right of a house and on the road you turn right to join a footpath on the left going down between a dense hedge on your left and Cox Barn on your right to cross a field, an active yard with agricultural implements and then two meadows. This stretch of the walk has both delights and difficulties: it has one of the most pleasant views of Boxford and evokes an unspoilt and undeveloped landscape which, with it's stiles, is a reminder of when livestock, particularly sheep,were a commonplace. Along the way there are five stiles to cross. The top stile, at Cox Barn, necessitates the removal of the top three bars to cross. After replacing the bars, walk down to a garden gate and across a field to a stile. Cross the stile and then across the yard to a stile which, at present, has a broken rail and, more seriously, a broken step. Be aware,cattle are sometimes grazing here. The next stile down also has a broken step and is difficult to cross. The final stile is fine and gives access to the footpath which, if one continues straight ahead, leads to Clubs Lane where, at the end, you turn right into Ellis Street and then Broad Street. Completing this circular walk, you have completed the most challenging walk around Boxford at present.
This second circular walk takes in part of Groton parish. Well defined and used paths link the two.Inevitable really, resulting from the proximity of Boxford and Groton and that from as early as the Eighteenth Century they shared the same Priest: as communities they were bound together, even then.
After the rigours of the previous walk this second part is more relaxing.There are no stiles and to the North and West of Boxford the roads and paths climbing out of the valley are gentler. You can continue with this walk or walk this section separately another time.
On your return to Broadstreet, before you reach The Fleece, there is a Bridleway, nearly opposite the lockup, which you can take up to the playing fields. Beyond the playing field pavilion, which the footpath crosses in front of, is a hedge. Pass through the gap in the corner and then turn right immediately on the path to take you beside the playing field hedge up the top corner. The hedge is the Parish Boundary. Turn left and continue to the road along a grassy and then concrete path. At the road turn left and then up to the junction where you turn right and then bear left to enter the church yard ahead.There is much of interest in those last few steps- remains of the village cattle pound on your left before the junction, the war memorial in the center of the junction and a mounting block meters away from the churchgate.
Keeping the church on your left, walk to a gate on the far side of the churchyard to pass through to a footpath where you turn right and then left along a path with bushes and trees. Reaching another gate you enter a meadow, Groton Croft, which has in its center an ancient and significant Mulberry tree. Read the information about it if you have time. Leave the Croft by the path between a hedgerow and a paddock to join a road where you turn right and walk for 150m or so to a footpath on your left.
Continue along the footpath into a field where you turn left along a path, with the hedge on your left, walk down through hedges until you meet another path forming a T junction. Turn left here, walk to, and cross, a road into a field, where you can turn right along a fieldside path which takes you back to Boxford. At the edge of the village the path becomes paved and you can continue down the road- Swan Street -until you reach the starting point of Broadstreet at the bottom.