Lidgate - Ousden circular walk

Our first walk in February was on a gloriously sunny day after a bitterly cold few days including snow and sleet showers and hard frosts.

Sunday 3 Feruary 2019
Weather: -1˚C, still and clear, in the sun it feels warm
Starting from the Bailey Pond at Lidgate and circling anti-clockwise to Ousden church, then back via Lidgate church.
4.5 miles

Pond? what pond?!
It's been drained and dredged, the fish and other water-life will soon be returned and I'm sure it will look beautiful again. (click on the photos to enlarge them)
We headed down the village street passing a blue plaque on a wall marking the birthplace of the poet John de Lydgate, not a household name now but back in the days between Chaucer and Shakespeare he was a poet of great renown.
We turned left up a lane which rises steeply as it leaves the village cottages and gardens behind, soon we were in fields above the village.

In this area we often spot herds of Fallow Deer, but this was unlikely in the middle of the day ... however they had passed this way earlier.

Characteristic clack-clack calls meant there were Fieldfares about, either feeding on the ground or finding berries still in the hedges.

As well as looking for wildlife we could enjoy the splendid open views.

If you scan the horizon to the west you can just spot Ely cathedral 21 miles away across the Fens ...

I've enhanced the photo to make it easier for you to see ...

Approaching Ousden village there are tracks off to the right for a diversion to the Fox pub. But today we veered left before reaching the village and headed downhill to Ousden church.

St Peter's Ousden is a rare example of a cruciform, cross-shaped, church with an original Norman tower in the centre rather than at the west end as most Suffolk village churches. We didn't explore inside but it looks interesting so I'll go back another time.

The church is attached to the grounds of Ousden Hall, in a field on the opposite side of the track is this smart dovecot with a very splendid lion above the door.

From the church we walked along the lane heading west out of the village, there was hardly any traffic so it was safe to walk on the road. As we passed the last of the village houses we spotted a group of peacocks sunning themselves on the verge! A cockerel had been recruited as look-out and upon spotting us he crowed and the peacocks hurried away to hide.

At the bottom of the long hill we crossed a little wooden bridge and turned left (a longer circular walking route continues on to the village of Dalham). The sign on the bridge is a reminder that not all who visit the countryside are there to just walk and enjoy the views, thankfully the local police are taking action.

The fields down in the valley had just been deeply ploughed but there is a wide grassy path along the field edge next to the stream, so it was easy walking and not muddy.

In the distance we could see Lidgate church on the skyline.

A shady lane leads up to the church, snow was still lying in the shade of the trees.

Badgers have made a large sett in the banks of the sunken lane.

St Mary's church Lidgate is built on the same site as a 12th century castle thought to have been built during 'The Anarchy', a civil war between supporters of King Stephen and the Empress Matilda (some of you may have read the Brother Cadfael novels which are set in this time). Most ofthe present church is 13th and 14th century and was probably built after the castle was demolished.

The door was locked so I couldn't go inside to look at the graffiti on the stonework and maybe find the words supposedly scratched by John de Lydgate.

But there is some fine graffiti on the archway around the door in the porch.

The remains of the castle mound can be seen just behind the graveyard.

This is the view down the hill from the church towards the pond and the village, the pond is probably called Bailey Pond because it was in the outer bailey (yard) of the castle. ... from here you can imagine you are standing in the castle.

A good walk with a few hills and wonderful views and lots of history too.


  1. Thank you for this, Celia. I loved mooching around the old churches in Suffolk, well, everywhere I went!

    1. So much fascinating history around here and beautiful medieval art.

    2. So lovely, what a gorgeous day for a country walk. That is a very fancy dovecote! Good thing you didn't have to try to make your way across that field, it would have been hard work. I can so easily picture that whole place featuring in a Cadfael story, he did on occasion venture far away from his beloved Shrewsbury :)

    3. I was very relieved the path wasn't over the field, the mud is particularly sticky in this area! And yes while walking these tracks it is easy to imagine friends of Cadfael making their way from Lidgate to Ely or Bury St Edmunds in those dangerous times.


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