Start at Stoke by Clare church (CO10 8JE). With the church behind you (dovecote and Stoke College drive on your left) walk straight ahead, past a row of cottages (right) to meet the A1092. Turn right through the village to the green (left). 2
Opposite the green, take the footpath on your right to follow the dismantled railway line downhill.
Before reaching a driveway, just under an old railway bridge, turn right (signed Stour Valley Path) towards the river. Cross the river and weir via the footbridge. Turn left, keeping on the Stour Valley Path briefly to another smaller footbridge.
Over the bridge, turn right. The path zig-zags along field edges to meet a small road opposite ‘Stours’, a farmhouse. Turn left along the road, gently uphill to a T-junction with Hollow Road.
Cross the road and continue along the footpath opposite. Take the footpath to the left of a small stream, then over a footbridge (right) and along a field-edge path on the right of a long meadow until you reach a cross roads of paths.
Turn left, following a farm track. This bears slightly to the left of a gated field entrance. The track leads to a field with a post (right) and cross-field path (left). Take this cross-field path to the left, heading for a gap in the trees with a footbridge to enter the next field. Follow the field-edge path right around this arable land, going along the hedge parallel to the road.
At the entrance driveway to Claret Hall on Bradley Hill, choose to return to Stoke by Clare along the Stour Valley Path (signed – see below), or continue into Clare along the Stour Valley Path by going down Bradley Hill.
On meeting Ashen Road, turn right, then take the footpath (left) past the back of gardens. It then turns right along the Stour, over a bridge into the left-hand side of a field. Walk along to meet the road. 9-12
Turn left onto the road. Look for the footpath (right) just before Ashen Bridge, cross over and follow the path along waterside to Clare Priory (10 – enter by a wooden gate in the wall),
Clare Castle and Country Park (11) and the town (12). Retrace your steps uphill to the entrance to Claret Hall on Bradley Hill (7). Turn into the driveway to pass the hall (right), plus farm buildings and paddock (left), after a small wooded area. Continue along the ridge with stunning views back towards Clare and across the Stour Valley below.
The path turns right, downhill to Ashen Road.
Turn left along the road to pick up the footpath (right) signed Stour Valley Path. This goes downhill along a hedge (right), across two open fields to the valley floor where the water-meadows lead back to the small footbridge crossed earlier (4). Retrace your original steps, crossing the footbridge, the Stour, going along the footpath and right up the old railway track to the A1092 and the green, finally turning left to get back to the church.
The water meadows at Stoke by Clare
John ‘Scrooge’ Elwes walking. Well, it was one way to avoid paying for a coach.