Clare Walk is an easy 3.5 mile circular walk in the countryside around Clare using the Country Park as your gateway. The park is open every day for visitors and car parking is available. The route is clearly marked with green public footpath signs and yellow waymark arrows displaying a circular walk symbol enabling you to walk in either direction.
It should take you around two hours to complete, but short cuts can be made by returning along the rideside footways crossed by the walk. Stout, waterproof footwear should be worn except in especially dry conditions.
The following Ordnance Survey sheet would be useful to find other rights-of-way in the area: Pathfinder Series sheet 1028TL 64/74 Haverhill. Or click on the following maps supplied by the Ordnance Survey:
1:250,000 OS Map of Clare
1:50,000 OS Map of Clare
In the park, shorter walks are provided on a History Trail or a Nature Trail theme, taking you along the riverside and woodland paths.
There are also picnic areas, a childrens adventure playground, a butterfly garden, wildlife ponds, visitor centre and toilets.
Refreshments may be obtained from one of the many public houses in the town as well as from shops or the sandwich delicatessen.
Leave the Country Park to the north following the circular walk signs to the Cavendish Road, turn right and then left into Eastfield Farm Lane. The playing field on the left once provided grazing for livestock from the castle, watered by the Chilton Stream. At Eastfield Farm keep to the right on Harps Lane, emerging at a stile leading to a field edge path.
At the corner of the field turn left to Hermitage Farm and follow the drive out to Bridewell Street. Turn left and then right onto Sheepgate Lane, skirting the edge of Clare Camp, formerly known as Erbury meaning earth fortification. This is an interesting area to explore, it has been suggested that it was an Iron Age hill fort and also that the Romans once used the site. Clare may also be a Roman name (Clarus, meaning renowned). Turn right along the edge of the allotments to the path around the Upper Common where, after turning left at the top, a good view of the town can be had, including the castle ruin above the trees. Although now cultivated, the Upper Common gave common pasture for the poorer people of the town and is still managed by a Charities Committee.
Turn left by an ash tree, on the track down towards the town and turn right at the bottom towards the cemetery. After passing the entrance, the walk is routed around a field with walls on two sides. This formed part of the old town wall and was probably built of material from the castle. Continue on from the end of the wall and turn left onto Nethergate Street then turn left again and cross to Ashen Road. This leads to a well preserved white cast iron bridge spanning the New Cut and displays the date 1813 on the centre arch. The railway also crossed the road at this point, can you see the old brickwork of the crossing?
Follow the path on the left between the river and the dismantled railway, crossing into the Country Park via the surviving railway bridge last used by trains in 1967, when the railway closed. Visit the Park Centre which houses an exhibition about the castle and railway; for information about the town, a leaflet produced by the Clare Traders Association is generally available from local businesses in the area.