There are dozens of wonderful walking routes in Suffolk, many of which reveal hidden gems of the countryside. With various types of habitat making up the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty across the Suffolk Coast and Heaths you are sure to enjoy stunning views and encounter a menagerie of wildlife throughout the seasons.
Sitting a mile from Wickham Market, Pettistree is a small but beautiful village tucked away in the folds of the Suffolk countryside. Surrounded by farmland, there are ample footpaths and country lanes for you to explore the area and soak up the sights. There are several routes you can take with Pettistree Heritage Walks and there are plenty of footpath signposts to keep you on track as well. Pettistree can be reached on the B1438, just off the A12.
Today I started my journey from Wickham Market Long Stay car park. You can park for an hour for free, up to 4 hours is £1 and over 4 hours is £1.50. The Pettistree Heritage Walks offers use of the Village Hall car park, on Walnuts Lane, as well. I followed the footpath sign next to the Co-Op in Wickham Market and started my ramble along the edge of a field littered with haybales. Walking close to the hedgerows I could hear the twittering of birds, with sparrows and robins darting from branch to branch before disappearing into the leafy greenery.
Across the field I could see the tower of Pettistree Church (it was good to know I was heading in the right direction) and soon enough I came to another signpost indicating the footpath. The hedgerows were not only bursting with birdlife but berries as well. Thick clumps of blackberries nestled in between brambles and rosehips and as tempting as they looked I thought they would make a better breakfast for the birds.
Turning left, I walked along a winding country lane and bumped into a local who was also out enjoying a morning walk. After passing the village hall I soon walked into Pettistree itself, passing the Church of St Peter and St Paul.
Before christianity was brought to the area by missionaries from Rome, people worshiped the Norse Gods due to the history of Scandinavian influence in Suffolk, culminating in the Anglo Saxons. It is believed the people in what we know call Pettistree worshiped an ancient tree sacred to the Norse God Odin. The first churches built by missionaries in the area were dedicated to patron saints of Rome St Peter and St Paul and constructed near this tree, with the name Pettistree originating from the district being called “Peter’s tree”. There is a footpath which can take you across the grounds of the church, however I continued straight to come out beside The Greyhound Inn.
A great place to stop for a drink or a meal, The Greyhound is ideally placed for walkers and cyclists, as well as those who enjoy good food in a welcoming atmosphere. From here I headed right to then cross over to the other side of the road where a signpost directed me to a stile and into a small paddock. Just when I thought I hadn’t seen much in the way of wildlife (other than a multitude of pigeons), I spotted a cat perched on a fence.
The cat seemed quite annoyed that I had disturbed its solitude and was quick to slink off, presumably heading back home. I crossed the paddock and a second stile and followed the path along another field. I managed to spot a pair of blue tits flying between a berry soaked bush and a tree, and interrupted a family of sparrows as I passed them by.
A photogenic damselfly perched itself among some nettles before hovering about the hedgerow and out of sight. A pair of small white, or cabbage white as they as sometimes known, butterflies danced around me as I continued on the path - landing for the briefest of moments before fluttering off again. One of the most widespread species of butterfly in the UK, the small white has even been spotted in Orkney and Shetland. The males have a single dot on each wing, while the females have two - a quick way to identify them should they stay still.
I continued around the edge of the field, beginning the gentle loop back towards Wickham Market. From damselflies to butterflies - the next winged encounter was something a little more exciting: a common buzzard flew over the opposite side of the field, chased by a disgruntled sounding crow. The most widespread bird of prey in the UK, the common buzzard is a large bird with broad, rounded wings. The colouring can differ from bird to bird - from dark browns to quite pale plumage. A terrific sight, I watched as the buzzard flew over the treetops before dipping down and out of sight.
There wasn’t long left of my walk now - I disturbed some rabbits having a nibble which soon scurried off and then I was on the footpath by the B1438. You can cross the road here to continue on the Java Lodge route of the Pettistree Heritage Walks but I decided to save this for another day. After about an hour’s worth of walking I arrived back at the car park, the sun starting to peek through the clouds.
Stay in Pettistree with Suffolk Cottage Holidays at The Old Stables (sleeps 4). Sitting less than a mile away from The Greyhound Inn, The Old Stables has beautiful views and is ideal for a countryside escape.