The walk is known locally as the Three Churches Walk, as it takes in the three churches at Moulton, Gazeley and Dalham. Much of the walk follows the Icknield Way, an ancient trail dating back to the time of the Iceni tribe, whose warrior-queen, Boudicca, ruled East Anglia in the 1st century ad. The original trail ran from Norfolk to Wiltshire and is thought to be Britain's oldest road. The modern Icknield Way path begins at Knettishall Heath and is waymarked with the sign of an axe.
This is horse racing country, just a few short gallops from Newmarket. Look out for thoroughbred horses at the Gazeley Stud, or grazing on the village green at Moulton. Don't be surprised to hear locals discussing the latest racing gossip or tips in the village pubs.
Moulton, where the walk begins, is best known for its 15th-century packhorse bridge, on the old cart road from Cambridge to Bury St Edmunds. It's built of flint with four arches lined in brick. The parapet walls were built low to allow the horses' packs to swing clear. The River Kennett flows underneath the bridge, though it's now little more than a trickle.
Dalham is the most attractive of the three villages. Some three-quarters of the houses are thatched, more than anywhere else in Suffolk. Behind the church, Dalham Hall was built for the Bishop of Ely in 1704, with instructions that Ely Cathedral should be visible from the upper floors. Unfortunately, a fire in 1957 means that the hall has been reduced to two storeys and the view of the cathedral has been lost. One of the previous owners of Dalham Hall was Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902), the Victorian empire-builder and founder of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), who died before he could live in the hall. There are memorials to members of his family in a corner of St Mary's churchyard. A visit to the church gives fascinating glimpses into Dalham's aristocratic and social history. Among the squires of Dalham recalled in stone are Sir Martin Stuteville, who 'visited the American world with Francis Drake', and his ancestor Thomas Stuteville, who 'kept hospitalitye in the manor place... and had 15 children.' There are also memorials to members of the Affleck family, from whom the village pub takes its name, and to their faithful servants.
Turn right out of the village hall car park along Bridge Street. Cross the bridge and turn right along Brookside, walking beside the River Kennett. Just before the Old Flint Bridge, notice the old rectory school on your left, dating from 1849. Keep on this road until you reach the churchyard.
Go through the gate to enter the churchyard and pass St Peter's Church. Cross a stile behind the church and walk up through the trees to another stile at the top. Bear right across the fields. On clear days, Ely Cathedral is visible on the horizon to your left. Continue ahead at another stile.
Reaching a road, turn right. Keep straight ahead when the road bends, walking between the hedges of the Gazeley Stud, where mares and foals can be seen. Continue on this path to All Saints Church and walk around the rear of the church to emerge by the Gazeley village sign and the Chequers pub
Walk down Higham Road, opposite the church, and bear right following the Icknield Way waymarks at Tithe Close. Walk between the houses and follow this path across the fields and into Bluebutton Wood.
Keep on the Icknield Way as it winds through two more woods, emerging beside a wide field. Walk along the edge of the field, up through the trees to reach a crossroads. Turn right here and drop down a tarmac lane then climb to St Mary's Church, with Dalham Hall visible behind.
Pass through the metal kissing gate opposite the church and walk down through an avenue of chestnut trees to Dalham village. Go through a kissing gate and turn left, noting the large conical red-brick malt kiln standing beside the road.
Cross the first white footbridge to your right and follow this path beside the River Kennett. Reaching a road, turn right across Catford Bridge. Now turn left on a wide bridleway to return to Moulton at St Peter's Church.
Cross the Old Flint Bridge and walk across the green to reach Dalham Road. Turn right along this road. A gate opposite the post office leads to the recreation ground and back to the village hall.
Field-edge, cross-field and woodland paths, 7 stiles
Downland, farmland, woodland and River Kennett
Livestock - dogs on lead
OS Explorer 210 Newmarket & Haverhill
Moulton village hall
None on route
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Suffolk is Constable country, where the county’s crumbling, time-ravaged coastline spreads itself under wide skies to convey a wonderful sense of remoteness and solitude. Highly evocative and atmospheric, this is where rivers wind lazily to the sea and notorious 18th-century smugglers hid from the excise men. John Constable immortalised these expansive flatlands in his paintings in the 18th century, and his artwork raises the region’s profile to this day.
Walking is one of Suffolk’s most popular recreational activities. It may be flat but the county has much to discover on foot – not least the isolated Heritage Coast, which can be accessed via the Suffolk Coast Path. Southwold, with its distinctive, white-walled lighthouse standing sentinel above the town and its colourful beach huts and attractive pier features on many a promotional brochure. Much of Suffolk’s coastal heathland is protected as a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and shelters several rare creatures including the adder, the heath butterfly and the nightjar. In addition to walking, there is a good choice of cycling routes but for something less demanding, visit some of Suffolk’s charming old towns, with streets of handsome, period buildings and picturesque, timber-framed houses.