Enjoy views of a 12th-century castle reflected in a lake and a stroll around a
Distance 2.5 miles (4km)
Minimum time 1hr
Ascent/gradient 131ft (40m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Town streets, country lanes, field paths, meadows, 1 stile
Landscape Framlingham town, castle and mere
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 212 Woodbridge & Saxmundham
Start/finish TM 282635
Dog friendliness Keep dogs on leads
Parking The Elms car park (free), New Road, Framlingham
Public toilets Crown and Anchor Lane, off Church Street
1 Cross a footbridge and turn right, around the edge of the Framlingham College playing fields. Ignore a path coming from a footbridge on the right and continue around the field. Turn right along a lane at the entrance to Little Lodge Farm and follow this lane gently uphill. Stay on the lane as it turns to the right at the gates of Great Lodge Farm. After 200yds (183m), turn right on to a field-edge path with good views of the castle up ahead and the Victorian red-brick Framlingham College to the right. Keep left alongside the hedge at a junction of paths to drop down to a footbridge. Cross this bridge and walk along the edge of the field. Turn right just before the road to continue around the field past an old World War Two pill box.
2 At the far corner of the field, turn right between a fence and a hedge to follow the course of the old Town Ditch, part of the defensive system for Framlingham Castle. Turn right at the foot of the ditch and follow the path round to the left to return to the mere. Go through the gate on the left, climb a stile and cross a bridge to reach the green at the foot of the castle walls. Follow the path around the edge of the green then drop steeply down to the moat and climb the steps on the far side to the castle entrance.
3 Leave the castle by taking the bridge across the moat and walk past the car park to the Castle Inn. Turn left at the duck pond and walk along Castle Street. Turn right along Double Street, a crescent-shaped street on the site of the old moat, noting the Victorian post box on the corner, that dates from 1856.
4 Cross Church Street and walk through the churchyard, then bear left to Market Hill, a triangular market place where you will see the town sign featuring the castle and the mere. Cross to the far side by a row of black-and-white timbered houses and go left. When you reach a crooked half-timbered cottage, turn right through the archway on to a narrow passage, Queen's Head Alley, named after the pub that once stood here.
5 Follow this path round to the left and turn right along Fore Street. Turn right again along Riverside, noting the unusual town pump with its two spouts, one for the townspeople and the other for horse-drawn water carts. Keep right along the riverbank, passing the post office, then cross Bridge Street and keep straight ahead on a path alongside a two-storey block of flats to return to the car park.
This short walk begins in the historic town of Framlingham and heads out into the surrounding countryside, with views of the medieval castle and mere from all sides. From the car park, walk through the kissing gate that leads directly to The Mere, now a Suffolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve and bird sanctuary. The lake, which is fed by the River Ore, is a natural feature but it was enlarged in medieval times by the Dukes of Norfolk to improve the setting of Framlingham Castle. Keep to the left-hand perimeter fence of the reserve and you will soon have marvellous views of the castle reflected in the water.
Framlingham Castle was built in the 12th century by Hugh Bigod, whose ancestors had been granted the manor of Framlingham in return for their support during the Norman conquest. The Bigod family became Earls of Norfolk and ruled much of East Anglia as their own personal fiefdom from their castles at Bungay and Framlingham. The castle was successfully besieged by King John in 1215 but since then it has rarely been attacked. It was here that Mary I, Mary Tudor, was staying in 1553 as she waited to hear whether she or Lady Jane Grey had been declared queen after the death of Edward VI. Since then the castle has been used as a prison, a poorhouse and a school.
The castle is now administered by English Heritage and you can walk the full length of the parapet walls and climb some of the 13 towers for views across the mere. The entry price includes an audio tour and also a museum of local history with a display on medieval moats.
There are several choices on Market Hill. The Crown Hotel serves sandwiches, ploughman's lunches and hot meals. Across the square is the Tea Shop at No 10 for tea and cakes. The Granary on Church Street is a coffee house serving lunches and afternoon teas.
Don't miss the carved tombs inside St Michael's Church. The most extravagant is the tomb of Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk (1473-1554) and uncle of two of Henry VIII's wives. Also buried here are Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-47), Thomas' eldest son and the earliest writer of 'Shakespearean' sonnets, who was executed for high treason; and Henry Fitzroy, a son-in-law of Thomas and illegitimate son of Henry VIII.
Saxtead Green Post Mill, 2½ miles (4km) north west of Framlingham, is the best preserved 18th-century windmill in Suffolk. It is open during the summer months for tours and you can climb up the stairs to watch the mill turn on its post to face the wind.