ROUND POLSTEAD AND BACK
Appox 7.5 Miles
This is a walk consisting of a mixture of bridle path, road and footpath. Like some other walks in the series there is higher percentage of road walking than I would like. There are places for rest and refreshments and stiles and possible farm animals to negotiate.
The two Parishes being neighbours accounts for the absence of a direct footpath as traffic between the two quickly evolved into the development of a road. In total the walk to Polstead and back, is about seven miles long over rolling countryside which, like in many villages mentioned in these walks, such as Kersey, Stoke by Nayland and Boxford itself, has terrain more suitable for sheep than the medieval plough. No doubt the common economic base of wool production and related occupations resulted in promotion of relationships both business and personal that created and sustained an informal path network which, post Enclosure Acts, became our footpaths. The 1827 murder of a village girl in Polstead highlights another interrelationship between parishes: the accused's legal hearing before trial was heard in the panelled rooms of the Fleece in Boxford.
I haven't walked some sections of this walk for nearly twenty years so was pleased to find the useful Polstead footpath map on the internet to identify some changes to the route we are taking.
To begin, walk along Broadstreet with The Fleece on your left and follow round to the right up to Clubs Lane on your left. Along the lane, straight ahead across a road way and up a path to access a path on the right which runs alongside a narrow brook to a road. Cross the road to a footpath and with the brook on your left continue to, and through, a spinney shortly after which you enter a field. Sharp left and then right on to a path which as you walk straight ahead becomes a well defined vehicle track as you climb the slope. Continue straight along this track ignoring side tracks and walk onto a final grassy section that leads to a T junction. Turn right here and follow the the path through trees. Leaving the trees you arrive at a metalled roadway which, at it's junction with another roadway you turn right to walk along the side of the A1071. Choose a crossing point to enter Holt Road located opposite at the bend.
Walk directly down Holt Road until a footpath and sign indicate you to walk ahead at a sharp right bend in the road. Follow this footpath ahead, crossing a drive and turning to your left and right to continue past some farm buildings on your left. Once past the buildings turn left and then turn right and after a short walk left and right again where you continue walking down the valley under a woodland canopy. Continue down to where you are compelled to turn left up out of woodland to a path at a field edge, which you follow to turn right at a road.
After a short walk, you enter Polstead and keeping to the right side of the grassy area, you will see a footpath at the right end of the buildings leading down to the road. Walk down the path and down the road noticing Corder's (the perpetrator of the 1827 red barn murder) farmhouse on your left.
At the junction at the bottom, to return to Boxford, cross the road to a footpath which leads up to a field which you cross diagonally to the left corner to join Mill Street. Walk along the road until you can turn right down Mill Lane. On the right, just past the mill, enter the meadow at the foot path sign and cross over to the stile at the far end where you follow the edge of the field and the banks of The Box until you get to a road junction. Straight over the junction, walk down the lane and, at the corner, step onto a footpath which you follow beside a field to a small copse. Then, staying close to the right hand field edge and beside the river, go through 5 kissing gates, until you reach Peyton Hall drive which you walk along until, having walked up a short stretch of public road, you turn right to continue into the (once self contained) hamlet of Stone Street. Leave this for the short walk into Boxford crossing the A1071 and back to the starting point.