Daws Heath woods
Through ancient woods around Daws Heath
Spring or early summer
Early flowers and breeding birds in the woods; a wide variety of woodland types; wild flowers in the Little Haven meadows in summer.
Paths can be very muddy in winter
Park at Belfairs Park (point A) or on St Michael's Road, near Pound Wood (near C)
Gently undulating terrain, mostly on well-defined unsurfaced footpaths; one fairly long section on road (DE), and another, shorter, on quiet lanes.
Click on a marker on the map for route details
Stage AB: Belfairs Park to Pound Wood
Walk straight ahead out of the back of the car park, and take the footpath running side by side with a bridleway within a belt of (mainly oak) trees, parallel to the houses on the right and with a fairway visible through the trees on the left. Later the path diverges left from the bridleway beside the fairway and soon reaches an exit on to Poors Lane North. Turn left along Poors Lane, then first right into Bramble Lane and follow it round a lefthand bend past houses on the right, immediately after which a gate on the right leads into Pound Wood.
Stage BC: Pound Wood
Enter Pound Wood and keep taking right turn options at path junctions until you come to the north-east entrance to the wood, on the right 100m or so after you pass through the cleared strip under the power lines. Turn left here and follow the path back across the cleared strip again to join the bridleway, which runs roughly parallel to the northern boundary of the wood to an exit on to St Michael's Road, with an entrance to Tile Wood immediately opposite.
Stage CD: Tile Wood and Little Haven
Enter Tile Wood and follow the path parallel to the road on your right, turning left at the first intersection, then right and shortly left at the next junction, with open grassland outside the wood boundary on your left. Take the next turning on the left leading into Little Haven, past the reserve board. Continue through Wyburns Wood, ignoring two turns on the left until you meet a stock fence. Go on through the kissing gate and across the meadow, then through two more kissing gates into the next meadow and cross it into a third; then, via two more kissing gates, follow the path across the north of Starvelarks Wood, then across the corner of a further meadow to a gate, and half-left diagonally across meadow 5. Here you pass through a tree belt and, passing an entrance on your right, join a footpath across the next meadow. Cross a footbridge into the next meadow, with a fence on your right and a tree belt screening the hospice on your left. Go straight on over a footbridge, then right and left through a copse and a kissing gate. Follow the path across the lefthand edge of this meadow, swinging right round its far corner, then left through the hedge across a patch of grass then across the hospice access road via kissing gates (the public footpath goes right here), and diagonally across the next meadow to the exit on to Daws Heath Road.
Stage DE: Little Haven to Hadleigh Great Wood
Turn left on to Daws Heath Road and bear right to continue into Western Road. Follow Western Road down into the shallow valley of Prittle Brook (that you meet again later in Hadleigh Great Wood) then turn left beyond it into Central Avenue, then first right into Smithfield Drive, right again into Sherwood Crescent, and second left into Poors Lane. Poors Lane is lined with oaks and, when the tarmac surface ends at the entrance to Hadleigh Great Wood, continues as a bridleway.
Stage EF: Hadleigh Great Wood
Leave the bridleway by the gate on the right just beyond the final house on Poors Lane, and turn left to follow the footpath running parallel to it. Ignore turnings on the right until you come to another entrance from the bridleway on the left, just before Dodds Grove. Turn right to follow the footpath, then first left at a small clearing. The path here follows a broad grassy ride. Bear right at a seat then, after passing a path entering from the left, you cross a footbridge over a stream. Bear left then keep straight on until you come to a T-junction of paths, turning left down to a footbridge across Prittle Brook then on to the gate to Belfairs Park.
Stage FA: Across Belfairs Park
Turn right on to a broad loose-surfaced track, with high woodland on your left and the meanders of Prittle Brook on your right. Follow this track until you meet another at right angles, leading from an entrance down on the right. Turn left to follow this through a belt of woodland, with fairways visible through the trees on both sides. You emerge into the open past a house and compound, then cross a surfaced road and the Prittle Brook Greenway, continuing straight on through trees with another fairway visible on the right, arriving back at the car park.