Part of the historic 2,000-acre Thornham Estate that lies in the beautiful River Dove valley, the marked trails meander through scenic park and farmland, and ancient shady woods. As you wend your way through the countryside, you’ll discover some unexpected delights nestled amongst the green spaces. Look out for the Victorian folly – originally a gothic summerhouse – which was lovingly restored in 2000. In the walled garden, the base for charitable youth project Beyond the Wall, you can pick up a little something from the small seasonal plant and produce stall.
Amble down to the sandy banks of the river Dove and you may be lucky enough to spot kingfishers nesting or even an otter or two. If you pass the bird hide on your way there, stay a while and keep your eyes peeled for great spotted woodpeckers, chaffinches, pheasants, and sparrowhawks. During the summer months there’s the chance to visit a special part of the estate dedicated to benefiting the lifecycle of butterflies (and hopefully increasing their numbers). Look out for meadow browns, peacocks, small tortoiseshells, gatekeepers, and purple hairstreaks!
Art in nature
Thornham Walks is home to West Lodge Pottery, where you can browse the showroom and workshop and learn a thing or two about the artisanal processes involved. And if you fancy creating your own work of art, why not sign up to a pottery class? If you’re still craving a cultural fix, drop by the Artists’ Studio or visit Beyond the Image Gallery, an exhibition space run by a group of volunteer photographers who invite artists from all media to exhibit.
Refresh and refuel
After an invigorating walk in the fresh Suffolk air, you’ll need sustenance; The Forge Café (conveniently located by the main car park and children’s play area) does some lovely light lunches, homemade cakes, and ice cream.
If you’re after something a bit heartier then we recommend The Auberge in Yaxley (less than 3km from Thornham Walks). Originally a traditional pub known as the Yaxley Bull, it’s now a family-run restaurant with dishes rooted in the flavours of traditional English and French cuisine, inspired by seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. The twice-cooked soufflé is a must, while meat eaters will love the Norfolk rib-eye steak or Suffolk pork chops.
For a day out in nature that both kids and adults will love, Thornham Walks is hard to beat.
So, ditch the kids’ gadgets, grab your wellies, and prepare to be enchanted…