Gipping River Path 1: Stowmarket to Broomfield Pit

19 March 2011

The River Gipping flows from near Mendlesham Green to Ipswich, where it becomes the Orwell. Between 1790 and 1793 it was made navigable between Stowmarket and Ipswich as the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation, and though the navigation fell out of use in the early 20th century, the former towpath is available for walkers. Today we walked downstream from Stowmarket, continuing on from the route of the Mid-Suffolk Footpath.

The very first section of the Gipping River Path was closed due to construction works, so we walked round and joined it at the next bridge - you can see the bit we missed in a later walk finishing the Mid-Suffolk Footpath.

So having descended from the road bridge across the Gipping, this is our first view of the river.

A short distance later, and the plan is in need of some adjustment already.

So instead of walking along the towpath which is entirely unblocked and usable, we traipsed through the building site alongside, then along the relief road, before returning to the towpath a little later.

Stowmarket retains a fair amount of industry, catalysed presumably by first the navigation and then the railway which runs up the valley.

This photo is rather uninteresting until you use George and Ellie to estimate the height of the pipe, which gives headroom of not much more than a metre.

Muntons maltings

Presumably cables were once slung on this post

We finally begin to pull clear of Stowmarket's industry, behind us once we're under the railway

Some of the remains of Badley Mill Lock, with trees growing out of its sloping lock sides.

Badley Mill

A rather worried Ellie, having somehow got herself into this side-stream behind my back. I don't know whether she tried to cross the stream without using the bridge or slid down the steep bank on this side, but although she was safely standing on the bottom, she couldn't get out on this side, and didn't seem to have tried getting out the other side until I encouraged her to do so.

A board-walk carries us safely over some damp ground, with Ellie none the worse for her exploration of the stream.

Getting closer to Needham Market, and the day is warming up.

A weir above Hawks Mill Lock

Needham Lakes, formed from a gravel pit, a rightly popular spot for families and dog-walkers

Bosmere Lock and mill from the Coddenham Road bridge

On the other side of the road are more gravel pits, these seemingly devoted to private fishing

Bosmere Hall, built by the botanist Robert Uvedale

What the sign alongside it calls Riverside Farm Lock, though is elsewhere named Creeting Lock

Pipps Ford Lock

The path then turns away from the river for a few hundred metres, running alongside the railway

Before a quiet lane (on which track-laying vehicles are prohibited) leads us back to the river

...where we find Baylham Lock

Two slightly grubby dogs

Baylham Mill

Be careful Ellie - you know what happened at the last bridge over a side-stream!

Llamas at the rare breeds farm on the other side of the river

The river slows its pace here, and speads out a bit as it nears middle-age

Blakenham Lock, the point at which we turn away from the river and walk to the picnic site where Lucy and Hetty have come to meet us.

Zoom in for more detail, or see map in larger window: Ordnance Survey | Open Street Map | Google Maps

Total 15.1 km in 3 hours 42 mins.

Continue on to the next Gipping River Path walk...


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson