Black circles farms; numbers trig. points (metres)

Its difficult to put ourselves in the mind set of Suffolk's early settlers moving inland from the coast. One thing we can be pretty sure about is that the twisting beckside wetland system of the Blyth would have been difficult to traverse for long-distance travel in its middle section between plateau and sandlings. This is what makes the Chediston ridgeway so interesting as one of the early routes from Halesworth to the Waveney valley through The Saints. The above sketch map sets out the basic topography showing how the right of way from the centre of Halesworth follows the watershed between the Chediston and Wisset tributaries of the Blyth. It also marks Chediston's northern parish boundary, suggesting that the track existed before the two communities agreed a common boundary to share out their uplands. The land on either side of the ridgeway was the last to be parcelled out as judged by the fact that Chediston Green ran as a broad strip alongside it, and the large rectangular fields of Wissett Lodge are aligned parallel to the boundary. Both are evidence of late enclosure. The route climbs about 40 metres between Halesworth town and St James South Elmham. Only one farm, Leggett's Farm, uses part of the track for access, the others in both parishes stand lower down on the valley slopes. The diversion of the parish boundary to include Leggett's Farm in Chediston is additional evidence for the watershed land being brought into cultivation as the final stage of enclosure. Documentation from other parishes on the Blything borderlands dates the enclosure of clayland commons to the 17th century.

As to the political significance of the Chediston ridgeway, it may well have been of importance in the 7th century as the main route from the Wuffinga royal seat at Blythburgh to the minster at South Elmham. Although the present stone ruin dates from around 1050 there is evidence that it is a rebuilding of an earlier church, presumably a wooden building, on the same site. There is a local idea that Chediston owes its name to Cedd, Bishop of Essex, who was exiled for a time at the court of Rendlesham. Maybe he travelled along the ridgeway, blessing the glacial erratic as he passed.

The Chediston ridgeway crosses the public road from Wissett to Linstead. This is also a reasonably straight ridgeway running north to south at a height of around 45 metres. It also has the topographical characteristics of an ancient track and is still the best way to get by car from Wissett to Badingham if you want to join the Roman road from Yoxford to the Gipping or upper Waveney valleys.