Walking along the River Gipping

The Gipping Valley River Path is based mainly on the old towing path used by the barge men and their horses. It was adopted by Suffolk County Council in the 1970s and became an official Long Distance path. Look out for QR signs along the river to download the Trust river walking map. The Council is responsible for maintaining the path so it can be used throughout the year by walkers. But they only cut it twice or three times per year, which is insufficient to keep the nettles and brambles at bay, so Trust volunteers help out in between times.

Trimming the footpath edges

Many parts of the current footpath have nettles and brambles alongside the path, which in the height of summer grow above head height, blocking views and making sections of the path impassable, and thus reducing the walking experience of a riverside walk. Trust volunteers plan to trim the path edges once per month during the growing season between Paper Mill Lock and Badley Lock to help improve the walking experience and keep the path free from overgrowth and litter.

Restoring the Towpath

Originally constructed to allow horses to  tow barges along the canalised river between Ipswich and Stowmarket. The towpath was immediately adjacent to the river with no trees or any obstructions in between. More on our current  towpath restoration work 

Reducing the growth of Himalayan Balsam 

Keeping the path clear adjacent to the river will also dramatically reduce the growth of Himalayan Balsam and the known bankside erosion it causes. It has been established that constant cutting and mowing areas of Himalayan Balsam can completely eradicate the invasive plant after a two year period. This year (2023) Trust volunteers plan to keep the path between Paper Mill Lock and Bramford Lock clear of nettles and brambles with a once per month cut. With sufficient volunteer resources the plan is to expand this further up and downstream in 2024.

Creating a better walking experience 
And helping to eradicating Himalayan Balsam, outside the bird nesting season

Typical Footpath 

Much overgrowth between path and river

Same day, after clearance work

Cutting back the overgrowth 

Ongoing cutting

Cutting once per month will improve the path and eradicate Himalayan Balsam 

Walking Maps

The Trust has published two walk leaflets which follow the towpath route of the Ipswich to Stowmarket Navigation.

Some other web publications: 

River Gipping Trail

A very interesting article on the riverside walk between Ipswich and Stowmarket can be read here River Gipping Trail. By MyCornerofSuffolk.

Starting in the very middle of Ipswich this ten mile river walk takes in some stunning Suffolk countryside, but also some historic industrial heritage as it passes through the villages of Sproughton, Bramford, Great Blakenham, Baylham and of course the lovely little Needham Market, in the very heart of Suffolk.

Reporting Footpath Problems

Suffolk Council maintain the footpath, but they only cut it twice or three times per year. The Trust volunteer workforce aim to keep the path clear during 2023 between Paper Mill Lock and Badley Lock (above Needham Market) to a level that enables walkers to enjoy a walk in shorts during the summer months. The Trust is seeking ways of expanding this further during 2024 to Ipswich and Stowmarket. Any problems of this nature should be reported using the Suffolk County Council’s website.  But we will do our best to clear any obstruction if reported to us. 

Why not spend the day walking along the river

  • Park at Needham Lakes nature reserve and visitor centre with its new Cafe overlooking Bosmere Lock
  • Walk along the river to Baylham Rare Breeds Farm (40 mins). Spend a few hours at the farm with lunch at their cafe
  • Walk back along the river and have refreshments at the visitor centre and stroll around the lakes.