The first part of the Gainsborough Trail, the Meadow Walk, was opened by local Paralympian Jonathan Adams and Sudbury’s Mayor for 2012/2013, Jack Owen, on March 16th 2013. This was a big day for the Gainsborough Trail Project Team who had been working on the idea for a continuous walkable trail to encircle Sudbury, for some time.
The idea 0riginally came out of a conversation in 2006 about possible new woodland at the Chilton Woods development and linking this to a more ancient woodland at Long Melford. From this came the thought “why not link all the woodlands, green spaces and wildlife habitats around Sudbury together in a continuous path?”
Not only good for humans and the environment, a continuous trail will lead to the faster expansion of bio-diversity, allowing animals, birds, insects, fungi, plants and friendly bacteria to propagate and spread easily and more quickly without significant barriers to impeded their progress.
As currently conceived, the Gainsborough Trail when finished will be around 12.4 miles long with numerous access points. The final length depends on the actual routes laid out as these can vary with local conditions and topography. The Trail starts in Sudbury by its glorious water meadows and then passes through the parishes of Great Cornard and Chilton, possibly touching Acton and Long Melford as well, before returning back to Sudbury.
The trail is of course named after the famous landscape and portrait artist, Thomas Gainsborough, who was born in Sudbury and grew up and learnt his initial skills here, sketching and drawing in the countryside before going on to more formal training in London. Gainsborough’s painting of Cornard Wood still exists and many of his portraits and landscape pictures have backdrops which are typical of the Sudbury area.
When you go along the Trail look out for the interpretation boards which will give you a map, your location, and photographs and history connected with the local area. There are four boards on the Meadow Walk section.
While the Meadow Walk is complete, there are still formidable obstacles to getting the whole Trail completed and it will take a number of years. The next stage is to obtain all correct permissions in place for a continuation of Sudbury’s riverside path into Great Cornard across a new bridge to be built and along a stretch of path which needs to be upgraded to prevent it flooding. We will persevere!