During the Covid crisis, our local roads were a little quieter than usual - an ideal opportunity for you and your family to get out on your bikes! Traffic has perhaps now returned to normal, but these routes will still keep you clear of most of it. The first route, the Hadleigh Railway Walk (actually a shared walking/cycling/horeseriding path) is completely off road. This route can be extended to Wenham, with a mix of on- and off-road routes, and takes in the remains of the airfield at RAF Raydon. Routes 2 and 3 are entirely on quiet lanes to the west of Hadleigh, and Route 4 takes you to the north and the beautiful village of Kersey. For those who are a bit more ambitions, the three varieties of the Churches & Fords route will keep you busy for a good proportion of the day! If you'd like to try something a bit longer still, our regular club routes give you a range of choices from 20km (12 miles) to 100km (61 miles).
To use any of these routes, click on the illustration. This will instantly download a gpx file which you can use in your GPS device, or open in a mapping app on your phone. Have fun!
Route 1 & 2. Hadleigh Railway Walk and RAF Raydon
The easiest of our routes, the Hadleigh Railway Walk is an off-road route on the old railway line. It is a moderately rough surface with lots of gravel, so it's not ideal for a road bike. The full length of the route is 6km (3.6 miles), so is very easy even for the youngest riders.
You can extend this route to the old RAF Raydon; if you follow the mapped route, the whole thing is 17km (10.6 miles) and involves a further off-road stretch on a bridleway (legal for bikes) plus some quiet lanes.
Route 3 - Lower Layham
Also just 6km long (3.6 miles), this route is entirely on quiet roads south of Hadleigh. As soon as you cross the little bridge over the River Brett as you leave Hadleigh, you are out in farmland. The route is flat to Lower Layham, where the church and the Queen's Head pub are points of interest, and you can take a diversion down the little road to Layham Mill if you have time. The loop back from Lower Layham gives you a little bit of work to do as you climb the little rise past Overbury Hall. As the loop turns right towards the outbound road, there is a fairly steep downhill bit with a Give Way at the end, so don't let the kids get carried away!
Route 4 - Polstead
Polstead is one of the largest villages by area in Suffolk, and has five centres of population. This route will take you through two of them, including the gorgeous green in the village centre. As an additional draw, there is the lovely pub, the Cock, to break your journey (but check their opening hours). The route is identical to Route 3 to Lower Layham (so you also have the Queen's Head to visit!), then gradually climbs through farmland and woods up to the plateau between the rivers Box and Brett. As you reach the village green in Polstead, you'll see one road dives down quite steeply from the green. If you have a bit of spare energy, it's worth the diversion to the bottom to see the extensive village pond and the Grade 1-listed village church - but leave some energy for the climb back up!
Leaving the village centre, you head north to Polstead Heath, the largest of Polstead's population centres. From there, you turn back east past various farms to rejoin the Layham loop. Again, beware the steep and narrow descent back to Layham Road.
Route 5 - Kersey
This route takes you to the beautiful, historic village of Kersey, and is 18.5km (11.5 miles) long. This route is NOT suitable for small children. It involves a short distance riding on the A1071, and crossings of both the A1141 and A1071.
For those able to contemplate those hazards, this route will give you great rewards. Firstly, there are no less than three pubs en-route - the Queen's Head in Lower Layham, the Brewer's Arms at Bower House Tye, and the gorgeous Bell in Kersey itself. And of course there are a number of pubs and cafes in Hadleigh for sustenance after the ride!
The route follows Routes 3 and 4 to Lower Layham, then climbs via a slightly different route to Polstead Heath, where you'll find some ancient hedgerow with a guide to the species and wildlife you might find there. The route then passes the Camping and Caravanning Club campsite. You then have to negotiate the A1071. There is a loop of old road for the next 300m, which keeps you off the main road for a while, but you must ride on the main road for the 400m to the left turn towards Kersey. Once that's negotiated, you're back on quiet lanes to Kersey. It's a steep hill down to the ford in the village (there is a footbridge) and a bit of a climb on the other side. From Kersey, you turn east down to cross the A1141 at Kersey Mill (at which there are several shops and a restaurant), then climb back up to the Whatfield road. From there, it's a sharp descent back towards the final crossing of the A1071 and re-entering Hadleigh.
Route 6 - Churches & Fords Pt 1
The first half of the Churches & Fords route takes you east of Hadleigh via some fabulous tiny churches and one or two splashes! There is a section between Sproughton and Washbrook that's on a busy B-road, and crosses the A1071 at a roundabout. It's not too daunting, but you should be a confident cyclist to tackle it. There are a few pubs round the route to help break up the journey! The route isn't too lumpy, but you can expect a few short, sharp climbs and descents. The route is 46km, or 28 miles, and - with photo stops at each church - will probably take you 3 hours or maybe a little more.
Route 7 - Churches & Fords Pt 2
Leaving Hadleigh and heading south via Layham to pick up the route at Shelly, this route continues for 38km (24 miles) via Polstead, Boxford, Groton, Lindsey and Kersey and back to Hadleigh. A little hillier than Part 1 (but nothing too difficult), yet more lovely churches await your arrival, both great and tiny. Again, now things have eased up there are plenty of pubs en-route, and Boxford has a small number of shops which are once again open. Apart from a short stretch on the A1141, and two crossings of the A1070, this is probably a little quieter than Part 1, and more suitable for less-confident or younger cyclists who'd still like to do a decent distance.
Route 8 - Churches & Fords (The Full Monty)
For a full day out on the bike, you'd have to try hard to beat this ride. The comments about Parts 1 & 2 still apply; this probably isn't a route for under-confident riders or children. It does involve a bit of A-road riding, and a mile or two on a fairly busy B-road. Unfortunately, there's no way of avoiding these roads if we're going to get the best out of our lovely area. Around 20 churches and 5 fords await you. There are a few more within the bounds of the route, and I strongly recommend you do a bit of research and seek them out, and of course there are many more if you choose to roam a little further from Hadleigh.
We do hope you enjoy these routes, and if you have suggestions for any more places or themes for local rides, please let us know via the Contact Us form.