A rare chance to visit two historic National Trust (NT) properties, open exceptionally for free for the Hertitage Open Day scheme, linked by a 8 mile stroll through lovely rural East Anglian countryside.
After alighting from our rural branch line at Sudbury station, we have time for a bonus 50 minute town tour - highlights include fine East Anglian architecture, the birthplace of the artist Thomas Gainsborough and the world famous "Horse Trough", with links to the 101 Dalmations!
We will then take a bus to Lavenham, one of the best preserved medieval villages in Europe. Amongst the many timber framed listed buildings is the 16C Guildhall, now a local history museum with a charming walled garden. This is also our first NT property to visit, with guided tours for those who want to learn more about the history of the village and Guildhall.
After all of this exhausting history and culture, we will reinvigorate ourselves with a 4 mile saunter to our second NT stop at Melford Hall. We will have around 2 1/2 hours to visit this Elizabethan banqueting house, stuffed with nautical memorabilia, including loot plundered from a Spanish ship in 1762, learn more about it's links with Beatrix Poter, explore the 52 hectare estate and take a picnic on the lawns.
The final leg will invole meandering onwards another 4 miles through deep East Anglian countryside back to Sudbury. Those who want to head straight home can do so (Plan A), whilst the rest of us will find a suitable establishment to socialise, take much deserved refreshments and perhaps play some darts (Plan B).
We will not be taking a pub lunch as a group on this trip, but will have a group picnic instead - sharing is encouraged! Park games will also be available for anyone with excess energy to burn! Both NT properties have tea rooms for those who would prefer this option, or if the weather turns against us.
The terrain is flat to gently undulating on well sufaced trails (~1/2 on disused railways) and the distance moderate, so this will be a chilled and relaxed day out.
Outwards: 09:02 train from Liverpool St, changing at Marks Tey, arriving Sudbury 10:21, then 11:10 #753 bus onwards to Lavenham, arriving 11:40.
Return: Plan A, probably 18:26 train from Sudbury, arriving Liv St 19:45. Plan B folks will probably return 2 hours later.
£20, including the return train fares and bus from Sudbury to Lavenham and guided / backmarked hike. Please pay the hike leaders in cash on the train.