I took the St Edmund Way footpath to Lavenham, looking out for signs of Spring. At Nowton church there were lambs, and a single hare raced across a field by Skipper’s farm, but progress is slow due to the cold wind and recent snow. There was still snow lying in ditches, although the earth was drier and less muddy.
The “St Edmund Way” is a Long Distance footpath St Edmund Way. One might imagine this to be an ancient way for pilgrims to travel to Bury, but in truth this seems unlikely. The path takes a rather zig-zag way to Lavenham crossing fields to avoid the A134 and A1141- surely these would have been the more obvious routes for pilgrims, stopping at The Rushbrooke arms (formally The Waggon) or The Horseshoes Inn at Cockfield (formally Horseshoes, or Three Horseshoes). Sadly the motor car has taken any pleasure out of these roads now for walkers.
There were two moments along the walk when I had a sense of the ancient: firstly there was a short track called Mill Lane leading to Little Rockwood Farm. This climbed a small hill between two high hedges, giving a strong sense of perspective as you walked. The ground was covered in tiny heart-shaped green leaves- celandines which should burst into yellow in a few weeks. Secondly, the tower of St Peter and St Paul’s church stuck out of the fields for miles before I actually got there. If this building was trying to make a statement about the wealth of the town it certainly succeeded. Its grandeur was all the more wonderful knowing I was getting close to my journey’s end, and a bus-ride back to Bury. It can be no coincidence that the distance between the towns in East Anglia is a comfortable day’s walk. Long Melford would have been next along the route, then Sudbury, but these will have to wait a while