284. Freston to Manningtree

It had been a few weeks since I had last been for a walk. This was due to the deteriorating health of one of our three dogs. Roxanne Tinkerbell Chutney was a rescue dog that had been with us for 13 of her 14 years. She was part of our family and she gave us so much in her life. Three days ago we had to make an extremely difficult decision, her condition had become bad and it was time to let her go. She will forever be in our hearts. Rest in peace my beautiful girl.

Roxanne Tinkerbell Chutney 2005 – 2019

I decided to do quite a long day on this visit to Suffolk, so I set off very early from Shropshire. As usual I had serious misgivings about catching a specific train from Manningtree, where I intended to park. The problem was the massive road works around Huntingdon and Cambridge, nearly every night the A14 is closed and diversions are put in place. The first diversion was at Huntingdon where yet again poor diversion signage meant that traffic was re-directed back down the A14 westwards, it was chaos with large articulated lorries reversing down the carriageway and cars trying to cross the carriageway. I managed to get past this diversion, but was later confronted with “A14 East Closed”, I along with many large lorries followed the diversion signs into Cambridge, which then disappeared and A14 west signs appeared! I saw a diverted traffic sign and headed towards Ely,  trying to keep to the north while heading east. I finally re-joined the A14 near Newmarket. I had lost about 45 minutes. I must seriously look at an alternative route when I next drive to Essex.

I parked up in Manningtree in Essex and set off to walk to the Railway station where I caught the train to Ipswich. I had a tight bus connection in Ipswich and a 15 minute train delay meant I had just 3 minutes to catch my bus. I managed it …….just and was really relieved to get off the bus at Freston and begin my walk.

I would be following the Stour and Orwell Walk, however, like The Suffolk Coast path, it spends a good deal of time away from the river even when there are existing paths running alongside both rivers. The path follows an old farm track which leads through the grounds of Woolverstone School, now a fee paying school and from 1992 is now  known as Ipswich High School. The path drops down to the Orwell River at Pin Mill. It’s still quite early and the local pub is just opening to serve coffee.  I continue on through Chelmondiston Woods and out along a sea wall or bank that protects some of the lower lying lands. I can pick out a number of sites on the far bank of The Orwell that I had passed through a few weeks back.

A field of Sunflowers near Freston
At Pinmill on The River Orwell
Looking back down The River Orwell from the sea bank near Shotley Gate
Looking across Harwich Harbour to the docks at Felixstowe
The Stena Hollandica bound for the Hook of Holland

The river swings around to the right and I am rewarded with the imposing sight of the huge cranes of Felixstowe. As I approach the marina at Shotley Gate, a huge Stena ferry is departing from Parkeston Quay, it’s the Stena Hollandica bound for the Hook of Holland. As I pass around Shotley Point I say goodbye to the River Orwell and hello to the River Stour. I don’t see a great deal of Shotley Gate as I remain close to the river. The Stour and Orwell Path has disappeared inland for some miles. I continued around Erwarton Bay passing Erwarton Ness and around to Holbrook Bay. I was getting tantalising glimpses of the Royal Hospital School and could not wait to get a better view. I don’t think I have ever seen a school like this before, with its huge clock tower dwarfing the two storey wings extending either side of it. The huge open grassed playing fields extended virtually right down to the river. A very impressive building and setting.

I eventually joined back up with the Stour and Orwell walk and continued along the river past Stutton Mill. I could now see Manningtree across the river, but first had to cross the railway line. Nearby to Marsh Farm I crossed the busy rail line via a bridge and headed down a concrete road past a sewage works. Further on I could see some construction work going on and close to the footpath I was on. Fortunately, a pedestrian walkway around the site was marked, but unfortunately, like this morning’s shenanigans around Cambridge onward signage was nowhere to be seen and a worker had to let me through the Arras fencing and into Cattawade. I joined the very busy A137 on a wide footpath and crossed over The River Stour via The White Bridge passing  out of Suffolk into Essex. A simple walk along the sea bank into Manningtree was all that needed to get me back to my car.

Looking down the River Stour from Shotley Gate
The curiously named “Johnny All Alone Creek”
The impressive Royal Hospital School
A worker operating a drone grass cutter at Seafield Bay
Hello Essex and goodbye Suffolk

Distance today = 22 miles

Total distance = 5,153 miles

 

 

Advertisements

283. Felixstowe to Freston

I left the Airbnb early and popped into a nearby MacDonald’s for a breakfast roll and coffee, not my usual fare but it filled a gap. I had the short drive then to a layby near to the village of Freston, close to the Boot Inn. I caught the 07:41 #92 bus to Ipswich railway station and then got the Felixstowe train.

By 9’oclock I was walking down Felixstowe high street with the sun out and blue skies all around. It was already quite hot. I linked up with the route from yesterday and headed through the suburbia of Felixstowe. I was heading towards the docks using back lanes and paths. I emerged close to a roundabout that marked the start of the A14, which I would not be walking along, but instead chose the A154. This led me to another road, solely for Industrial use. There were warning signs about trespass, but my maps indicated that the Stour and Orwell Walk, that I would be on for most of the day, used this road. My next objective was to cross a set of railway tracks at junction that served the adjacent container port. The gate across the tracks was locked. However, I did see a yellow phone box with a number to call. I picked up the handset and immediately a voice said “hello”. I said I needed to cross the tracks and the chap just said “right the gates are now unlocked”. I had to cross about 6 sets of tracks separated by a further 3 gates. I was dreading that the other gates would not open because there was no phone at the middle gate. I was soon across the tracks, which probably saved about a mile of having to walk inland.

I set off down a road which skirted the container port, hidden by a raised wooded bank. At Fagbury Point I emerged onto the sea bank of The River Orwell and continued along the edge of Trimley Marshes. I had brought my sunscreen umbrella along with its silver top to direct UV rays and black underside to absorb the indirect ones. However, the stiff and erratic breeze on top of the sea bank caused the brolly turn inside out on a couple of occasions – but I still got the benefits of the shade.

I passed the freshwater Loompit Lake, separated from the river, just by the sea bank and then onto the marina at Stratton. The footpath went right through boatyard, but I got my navigation spot on in picking up the footpath signs at its far side. At Nacton, the Stour and Orwell walk set off inland along a road. Here I made an error in not re-reading fellow coastal walker Jon Combe’s account who 11 years previously had successfully and ‘legally’ walked along the shoreline at low tide all the way from The Orwell Bridge.

https://britishcoast.wordpress.com/2018/03/13/194-ipswich-to-trimley-st-mary/

Port entrace near to the start of A14
Railway crossing point
At Fagbury Point
Heading up the River Orwell
Looking towards Stratton Marina
Stratton Marina
Volunteers from Suffolk Wildlife Trust cutting back vegetation at Levington Creek
Impressive wrought iron gates Orwell Park School

I continued along the Ipswich Road, which was not as bad as I thought, emerging at an underpass of the very busy and noisy A14. I continued over a roundabout and along a short distance before turning off down a road signposted for the Orwell Country Park.

I had been rather apprehensive about crossing the Orwell Bridge on foot, even though you can walk across it on either side, I had read reports that  drivers sometimes report sightings of walkers on the bridge, thinking they are doing a good thing in preveting a potential suicide. However, the good thing about walking across the bridge is that you can actually see something, because when you drive over the bridge in a car all you can see is bridge barrier wall, which I suspect is intentional. The bridge was very noisy and very busy and  I was glad to be off it.

I followed the Stour and Orwell path off the bridge and across some fields that had recently been harvested. I walked the short distance along the B1080 towards Freston and to the layby where I had parked earlier that morning.

The Orwell Bridge
Looking back down river towards Felixstowe from the Orwell Bridge
The Orwell Bridge
Heading towards Freston

Distance today = 16 miles

Total distance = 5,131 miles

 

 

 

282. Woodbridge to Felixstowe

It was time for another trip to Suffolk and this time I decided to make it a two day trip with an overnight stay. I drove to and parked in Felixstowe, a town I had heard about but never visited. I was pleased to see that I had numerous options with the public transport on offer. Not so enjoyable was the early-morning drive over from Shropshire with a section of the M6 closed for overnight repairs and two sections of the A14 due to the major roadworks around Cambridge.

I used a direct bus service from Felixstowe to Woodbridge, the #173, alighting at the railway station and climbing the footbridge over the tracks. I continued along the banks of the River Deben on a beautiful sunny morning, with the occasional cloud giving shade from the already hot sun. With a refreshing breeze at my back I followed the well-defined riverside track around Martlesham Creek to Martlesham Hall where I had to divert inland. This would be the first of two occasions today when I would need to go inland, due to breaches in the riverside sea bank, purposefully done to create salt marshes.

After leaving Martlesham I made a slight navigation error, by heading towards Waldringfield Heath instead of Waldringfield. However, I carried on and it was not long before I entered the small charming village of Waldringfield with its unique houses built of brick on the ground floor and its timber-clad upper floors. I was tempted to sample a pint in the village pub, The Maybush, but I still had a long way to go. I walked along the shoreline of the Deben for a short distance before I had to start heading inland again to get around the second breach in the sea bank at Early Creek. I passed by White Hall and Hemley Hall before heading back to the River Deben. I was able to recognise many of the features on the opposite bank of the Deben that I passed through some weeks before.

Looking back up The River Deben towards Woodbridge
The Maybush at Waldringfield
Looking across the Deben to The Ramsholt Arms pub
A Black-Tailed Godwit

I was now on the excellent path atop the sea bank which would take me all the way to the mouth of the River Deben. Felixstowe Ferry sits at the mouth of the river and provides a foot passenger ferry service across the river to Bawdsey on the opposite bank. Felixstowe Ferry itself is an odd mishmash collection of house boats, wooden boatyard buildings, a pub and cafe’s. the place was very busy. I was amazed that some older children where swimming in the river, near the rocks and with the tide in full flow pouring in from the sea. A Coastguard vehicle was close-by, I suspected, aving given the youths some advice. On the same day, further down the coast at Clacton, three children had been recused from the sea while swimming below the pier; sadly a young girl of 15 had drowned.

I joined the sea wall proper and passed a converted Martello Tower, here I said goodbye to the River Deben and hello again to the North Sea. The sea wall was very busy with holidaymakers making great use of the hundreds of multi-coloured beach huts of all shapes and sizes. I was now back on the Suffolk Coastal Path, a path I have probably spent more times off than on, as it quite mercurial tending to drift quite some distance away from the coast.

The sea wall ended at Undercliff and I now had the option of climbing over high groynes and rocks or climbing the cliff and walking along the suburban road a short distance. I opted for the inland route passing large and impressive established residences. At Cobbolds Point I dropped down to the sea wall again and continued along the promenade, passing the many holiday makers, more beach huts, the pier and onto a spit of land that jutted out into Harwich Harbour. This was Landguard, containing a military fort, gun emplacements, a Nature Reserve and a brilliant viewing area for the massive adjacent Felixstowe ferry port, with its huge collection of cranes for container handling. Here the walk ended and I caught the bus back into the town and headed off to my Airbnb in Ipswich.

Looking across to Bawdsey at Felixstowe Ferry
The mouth of The River Deben with the tide now racing in
Heading towards Felixstowe, with the Martello Tower a permanent feature on the Golf Course
Old Victorian gun placements at Landguard
Huge container ship being unloaded at Felixstowe Ferryport

Distance today = 20 miles

Total distance = 5,115 miles

 

 

 

281. Dunnet to John o’Groats

My first job before setting out was to pop next door to the tyre fitters to check on my puncture. I was told yesterday that they would fit a budget/economy tyre for circa £65, that is expensive, but I didn’t argue. Turns out they didn’t have an economy tyre, but put a “better tyre” on – which cost £92, the words “done up like a kipper” spring to mind.

I drove to Dunnet and parked in the village hall car park. It was forecasted to be a very hot day all over the UK and as I set off towards West Dunnet there were no clouds in the sky, but a stiff warm breeze at my back. I set off across open moorland and decided to try my new umbrella/parasol. Its silver top is designed to reflect all of the direct UV rays and with its black underside to absorb all indirect UV rays. With the strong swirling breeze at my back the brolly did occasionally turn inside-out. The good thing was that it was designed to easily turn back again and this worked well. As I crossed the open moor towards Dunnet Head I used the brolly shade the entire time. I still sweated in the heat and it was tough walking over the trackless terrain.
I headed over Bloody Moss then towards Loch of Bushta before climbing slowly up the gentle slopes of Dunnet Hill (121m). The view from Dunnet Hill was stunning. To the west across Thurso Bay I could see Scrabster and in the far distance the hills of Assynt. To the North West I could see the high red sea cliffs of Hoy and the top of The Old Man of Hoy. To the east I could see the low-lying Caithness coastline disappearing towards Duncansby Head and the Isle of Stroma. The route ahead to the lighthouse at Dunnet Head was obvious. I set off towards Sanders Loch where the walking was over spongy grass, moss and heather. As I neared Dunnet Head I had to walk over old peat workings which was difficult in places. I was accompanied part of the way by a number of  Great Skuas, happily on this occassion they ignored me, unlike those that dive-bombed me when I last visited Shetland in 2013.

Dunnet Head was very busy with many tourists enjoying the extensive views across the Pentland Firth to Orkney. I walked to the top of the hill above the lighthouse to get a brilliant 360 degree panorama. I had intended to continue walking down the eastern side of the Dunnet Head peninsular, but the morning 4 miles over trackless terrain in the heat had taken their toll and I would be already struggling to make my intended bus back from John o’Groats to Dunnet.

Looking back at yesterday’s walk over Dunnet Beach
Looking west over Loch of Bushta to Thurso
Zoomed shot across The Pentland Firth to Hoy and the Old Man of Hoy
The route to Dunnet Head past Sanders Loch
Great Skua
Approaching Dunnet Head
Dunnet Head with Hoy in the distance
Looking back at my approach route
Dunnet Head
Looking back towards Thurso, the hill in the far distance is Ben Klibreck

I set off down the road towards Brough, a scattered hamlet. I was very grateful for a small cafe in Brough where I could replenish my water supplies, as the heat was quite intense now. I was now walking along quiet single track roads that ran close to the coastline and passed through a number of strung-out settlements that included Scarfskerry and Harrow. I passed very close to the Castle of Mey. It was certainly open to visitors so I doubt there were any Royals in residence. I decided to re-stock my water supplies again, so I popped into the cafe at the Castle. I did baulk at the cost of a 320ml bottle of still water which was £1.85. The young serving girls behind the counter said I could fill my water bottle up from the ice-cool containers in the cafe. I obliged and then set off along a coastal path for a short distance. I soon joined another long straight road that finally joined up with the A836.

I passed through Gills and the small ferry pier which provided a service to St. Margaret Hope on the Orkney mainland. After passing through the settlement of Huna and getting back onto the shore I could now see Duncansby Head Lighthouse and John o’Groats in the distance. Although, the real milestone was Duncansby Head (where I would begin the long walk south) John o’Groats had always been a key destination. At the familiar mileage fingerpost I got a ‘selfie’ from a Dutch chap and his family. I made my bus by 10 minutes and paid the £3 back to Dunnet.

When I got back to the Airbnb I checked out the weather forecast. It did not look good for tomorrow with thundery showers with lightening forecast from 06:00 through to 15:00. As tomorrows walk would have been over 23 miles, there was every chance that I would encounter some of these showers with little or no shelter if I did. I decided to abort the trip and drove south the following day, with cracked windscreen and through the thunderstorms that had been forecast.

Looking back at Dunnet Head
Castle of Mey
The ferry terminal at Gills
Approaching John o’Groats with Duncansby Head in the distance
At John o’Groats

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24645

POSTSCPIPT: the windscreen made it back home ok, only ‘growing’ by 10mm. However, the Friday appointment agreed on Monday did not happen. Autoglass did not show, I had paid for the windscreen and waited an hour past my alloted time slot and was told, when I called them, that the replacement windscreen had been “damaged in transit”. No communication from these cowboys about this and I would have still been waiting now if I had not bothered to call them. I have made a complaint, for the good that it will do. Grrrr!!

Distance today = 22.5 miles

Total distance = 5,095 miles

 

 

 

 

280. Dounreay to Dunnet

I was looking forward to this 3 day trip to the northern Caithness coast as it would finally see me heading south along the east coast of Scotland…….or so I thought!

Unfortunately, things did not go as planned. From the first day, as  I awoke after a night in the back of the car I found a 16 inch crack in my windscreen. This must have occurred on the drive up and later that day, after my first days walk I returned to my car to find a flat tyre!

With the large crack in my windscreen, I decided to keep to a minimum the number of miles driving the car, leaving my car parked in Thurso. So I caught the 7:20 #82 bus to the Dounreay Nuclear plant. Most of the buses going to Dounreay are simply to ferry the workers to the site. However, they do also function as a  public bus service; but  I did feel entirely out of place being deposited at the security gates of the site and amongst the hundreds of hi-vis vested employees. I soon started to make my way back to the site entrance and the main A836 road. As this was the start of the daily shift the whole place was awash with workers arriving by bus, cars and bikes.

I reached the main road and walked for about a kilometre before heading down a farm track and then across fields towards the coast. I was heading towards the small wind farm at the Forss Building and Technology Park, developed on the site of a former US Naval radio station. This site was the headquarters as well as having 26 housing units. I could still see the remnants of a small baseball field alongside the old housing blocks. At the site I met a chap who was busy setting up a day’s clay pigeon shooting event for clients. I continued onto the small ruin of St. Mary’s Chapel, built probably in the 12th century, and  has a small burial ground surrounding it. I crossed over the Water of Forss via small footbridge and then up a steep grassy bank. I was heading for a farm track that would take me back to the coast.

Although there was no footpath along the coast, it was generally very flat. However, the long grass made sure I got totally sodden, despite wearing waterproofs, gaiters and boots. The sea cliffs here were not very high and like most of the Caithness coastline, the underlying Flagstones gently dip to the north and create cliff overhangs. I passed over the gentle slopes of Brims Hill and into a quarry, previously used for extracting the Middle Devonian flagstones. The Flagstones are basically – thinly-bedded siltstones and sandstones which cleave to give sheets of rock which have been used extensively in the past as paving, tiles and field boundaries. I passed over Holborn Hill and could now make out Thurso in the misty gloom. It had been raining most of the morning, although quite light and drizzly, I was still quite wet as I approached the ferry terminal at Scrabster.
At Scrabster I was able to get a phone signal and made contact with the windscreen replacement people. Unfortunately they were not able to fit me in until next week. So I was going to have to drive my car, with the large crack in the windscreen all the way back home. I followed the road and footpath around the shoreline into the small town of Thurso, the most northerly town on mainland Britain. I arrived back at my car and had a short rest before catching the #82 bus service towards John o’Groats and getting off at the small village of Dunnet. From where I would walk back along the coastline to Thurso.

Looking back at Dounreay
Greeny Geo
Approaching the small wind farm at the former US Naval Radio Station at Forss
St. Mary’s Chapel
Heading towards Brims Hill through long grass. Dunnet Head can be seen in the distance
Flagstone cliffs
Cliffs below Brims Hill
The flagstone provides a flat quarry floor at the disused Scrabster quarry
Looking towards Thurso from Scrabster Ferry Terminal
Approaching Thurso

I set off down the main road and shortly cut through dunes onto the wonderful Dunnet Beach. It was still quite murky and drizzly but warm. Walking along the beach was very pleasant with the sea lapping on the shore and little or no wind. After about 3km I arrived at the Burn of Garth, but could not cross without getting my feet wet. I headed inland slightly, pushing through waist-high grass and bracken. I soon arrived at the Heritage Centre at Castlehill renowned for the quarrying of Flagstone at the now disused quarry at nearby Castletown.

I set off again through a field of barley following the sprayer tracks, however, that still did not stop me from getting another soaking from the wet crops. I followed a farm track for a small distance then transferred onto the shoreline. I got about a mile along the beach and then had to climb a small cliff to get around a rocky section. I managed to get back onto the beach and continued for about another mile. I transferred back to the shoreline fields and spent the next 30 minutes climbing over a barbed-wire and electric fences. Pushing through the thigh-high soaking wet vegetation took a lot of energy and I was very glad when I reached open pasture land, which short grass. I passed over another of the three sites of the former US Radio Station. I finally picked up a reasonable track back to Thurso which had stiles for getting over the fences. I walked past the ruins of 19th century Thurso Castle and onto a small footbridge that went over the River Thurso and back to my car.

After finding my car had a puncture I managed to find a tyre depot which was only 60 meteres away and very close to my Airbnb for the next two nights.

Walking a rather murky Dunnet Beach
A route over Burn of Garth? I don’t think so!
Walking along the shoreline at Craig of Hattel
Looking towards Thurso near East Lug of Tang
The ruins of Thurso Castle

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24643

Distance today = 23.5 miles
Total distance = 5,072.5 miles

 

 

 

279. Woodbridge to Shingle Street

I decided to do another one day trip to Suffolk before I returned to Northern Scotland. With a reasonably fine day forecasted I was hoping to get at least half way around one of the Suffolk river estuaries. Unfortunately it was a Sunday, which meant no public transport back to the car, so I took my bike along. It was a longer cycle ride today, compared to last Sunday and would involve some 9 miles from the car to the start of the walk.
I decided to drive to and park in the small rough car park at Shingle Street. I opted to get the cycling out of the way, as the roads would be much quieter at 07:30. I made very good time to Woodbridge railway station, with the help of the flat and level terrain of the Suffolk countryside. I decided that I would push my bike to a car park near Melton, which would be easier to retrieve when I later drove back in my car.

Woodbridge is a charming little town with a pretty little station housing a taxi service and cafe. I carried my bike up over the bridge across the railway lines and followed a footpath that skirted along the River Deben, which I would be walking around. The footpath already had a few people out and about on a lovely sunny morning. Just after passing Melton railway station I walked through a car park and chained my bike up to a railing. I set off along a footpath that led to a bridge over the River Deben, before turning down the B1083. I soon passed the entrance to Sutton Hoo. I had read something about Sutton Hoo, but knew little detail. Although I would be passing close to the site of the two 6th- and early 7th-century cemeteries I had intended to revisit them at a later date, enabling me to devote more time to such a significant site. I followed a signed footpath which was not marked on the OS map or was not in its exact place. Needless to say I soon lost the footpath indicators and then made a navigation error. I ended being confronted by a large pig farm. I walked around the site and could not pick up anymore footpath signs. I wasted about 20 minutes wandering around trying to get my bearings. I eventually recognised the small tree plantation patterns and managed to pick up my intended route near to Ferry Farm. However, I had missed about 2 miles around Sutton Hoo Farm and Ferry Cliff. I headed towards Methersgate passing through the hamlet and finally picking up sight of the River Deben below me. I pjoined up a riverside footpath which although overgrown in places with nettles and bracken, was well-trodden. At Stonner Point I picked-up a Sea Bank, providing me with a great view down the River Deben which at high tide was about 800m wide. The river snaked around long sweeping bends and turned towards Ramsholt, where I met and spoke to a couple out walking along the sea bank. I rarely stop for a alcoholic drink on my walks, but today I just fancied a pint! I deposited my rucksack at an outside table and went in and bought a pint of Adnams – what else? The Ramsholt Arms was very busy serving food to yacht people and those who had driven down the dead-end road.

Woodbridge Railway Station
Looking down the River Deben at Woodbridge
Looking across The Deben to Waldringfield at Sconner Point
Walking along the Sea Bank towards Rockall Wood
Looking across the Deben from The Ramsholt Arms
The Ramsholt Arms

The pint of beer did not last long, as thirst usually takes over from taste when I take on fluids on warm days. At Ramsholt there is no public footpath south along the River Deben towards the Bawdsey Ferry. I am not sure why there is no footpath along this 3 miles stretch bordering the Ramsholt and Alderton Marshes – I was tempted to try though. Instead, I set off on an inland diversion towards Alderton. When I came to the first road junction I continued straight ahead up a green lane bridle path. I had not gone far when I was confronted with a crop sprayer sending a plume of water over the track ahead. The plume was not deviating, so unless I wanted to back track, I was going to have to make a mad dash through it. Needless to say I got a right soaking! Within 20 minutes I was dry again. I passed through the village of Alderton and continued onto the village of Bawdsey. I had given thought about continuing down the road to Bawdsey Ferry, but did not fancy the walk back along the single shoreline. Instead I headed directly along a lane to the coast, where I emerged near the sight of an old WW2 gun emplacement.

I could see Shingle Street, about 3km in the distance at the end of the Sea Bank which had an excellent path running along its top. I passed three Martello Towers on my final 2.5 miles, the first tower had been restored as a residential property, with a flashy new access staircase, the second tower had not been restored but had a WW2 pill box built on the roof and the third tower was also restored as I could hear loud music blasting out through the 1m thick walls. I walked onto the shingle bank at Shingle Street, a bank that protects the row of cottages from the sea. It was hard going over the shingle – even for a short distance. I was fascinated by some of the flora growing on the shingle bank, in particular a tall 4 – 5ft stalk plant with yellow flowers – this was a Great Mullein and an impressive plant it was too. I rounded the coastguard cottages and arrived back at the car park. Just the drive home now, calling in to Melton to pick up my bike.

Time for a soaking with the crop sprayer deluge blocking my way
Back at the sea at East Lane on a WW2 gun-site looking west
Modern-themed Martello restored
Unrestored Martello with WW2 pill box on its roof
Restored Martello at Shingle Street
4 – 5ft high Great Mullein – very impressive

Distance today = 18 miles

Total distance = 5,049 miles

 

 

278. Orford to Shingle Street

I decide to do a single day’s trip back to Suffolk and continue my progress south along the east coast. As it is a Sunday, there will be no public transport to get me back to Orford, so I must make use of my bike.

I set off very early from Shropshire and drive to Shingle Street, a small hamlet at the end of a cul-de-sac road from the village of Hollesley. I leave my bike chained to a kissing gate and then drive around to Orford. I park in the small square in the centre of the village.

It is a lovely sunny Sunday morning, with a gentle breeze blowing. Although it is only 7:45, there are a number of people out and about, walking their dogs mainly. I walk down to the quay and head westwards along the sea bank. The walking is very easy, along the short cropped grass. I strike up a conversation with a chap who is out walking his dog; after a mile he returns to Orford. I am now walking along the River Ore and the land opposite me is now Havergate Island a National Nature Reserve. As I approach Gedgrave Marshes the public footpath turns inland. However, I recently read there is now a permissive footpath along the sea bank around to the Butley Ferry. The sea bank now follows the River Butley as I proceed upstream. The signage on the three gates/stiles I went through makes no mention of “permissive” but simply gives the direction and mileage to the ferry and Orford. It now has a Suffolk Council logo on. Just before I reach the ferry I notice a yacht, with people on board, that looks to have been beached – more about that later.

I reach the ferry, it not very wide and I could easily throw a ball to the other side. It’s only 8:30 and the ferry does not start until 11:00, but I have no intention of using it just yet. As there is no continuation of the footpath up the River Butley I must now follow public footpaths, roads and lanes to the first bridging point at Chillesford. I am now heading eastwards and am almost back at Orford before I head up a sandy farm track. I am amazed how sandy the soil is here. I pass multiple water irrigation pumps, essential as the soil holds little water. After passing a cricket pitch, where I see the groundsman preparing the wicket, obviously for a match later that day I meet two ladies, seated in small chairs. They tell me they are waiting for a group of children who are completing a hike as part of their Duke of Edinburgh award. They also tell me that the impressive Sudborne Hall that we are looking at, are now just expensive apartments.

Looking down the River Alde on a beautiful Sunday morning at Orford
Looking across to where The River Butley joins the River Alde
The River Butley Ferry

I continue on, walking along a lovely shaded woodland footpath. I eventually meet the groups of young walkers completing their DofE. The footpath leads out on to the B1084 at Chillesford. The road is quiet and has a footpath. It’s not long before I am heading south along a narrow quiet lane, passing through the hamlet of Butley Mills. I soon turn off down one of the many sandy tracks, used primary for agricultural vehicles. I pass through two farms before I take on Burrow Hill; at 10m high, it is slightly odds with the land around it. Burrow Hill was a fortified Saxon settlement and was an island, before the sea banks had been built. The site was excavated in the 1970’s and over 200 burials were found. The hill provided good views across the area and I could see the nearby Butley Ferry was now busy. I had now arrived on the opposite side of the river bank, to where I was a few hours before. I spoke to the ferryman and he reminded me that he finished at 16:00. I said I would return long before then.

I set off down the sea bank and passed by very close to the beached yacht I had seen earlier. The people on board gave me a wave and I asked how long they would have to wait, they said 4 hours. I continued on along the sea bank and re-joined the River Ore channel again. Speed boats and water skiers were now out on the river. I arrived back at my bike, close to the hamlet of Shingle Street. I now had to cycle back to Orford. I had already planned my return cycle route, which would make use of roads, farm tracks and the Butley Ferry, which would shave 4 – 5 miles off my cycling distance. Although my bike is foldable, I had seen earlier, full sized bicycles being ferried across. I should say also that the ferry is not motorised and requires the ferryman to row across. Butley Ferry is one of four foot ferries that operate in Suffolk

At Butley Mills
One of the large number of pig farms in the area
Looking down to the River Butley from Burrow Hill
Zoomed shot of the River Butley Ferry
At Boyton Dock with the beached yacht in the distance
Beached yacht on the River Butley
Looking across the River Butley towards Orford

Distance today = 17 miles

Total distance = 5,031 miles