270. Southwold to Aldeburgh

I thought I would follow up my recent trip to the Suffolk coast with another visit. Although this walk would be longer the logistical problems of getting back to my start point were much harder. There was no direct public transport between Southwold and Aldeburgh and unless you wanted to start your walk around mid-day, the options for a morning start required some thought. After much deliberation I opted for the drive to and park at Southwold, continue my walk south along the coast to Aldeburgh, get the #64 bus to Saxmundham, then get the train to Beccles and finally get the #146 bus back to Southwold. In the end this is not what happened!

I set off from Shropshire at some ungodly hour, with the benefits of traffic free roads but in the knowledge that my travel plans required me to finish my walk before 13:00. I set off walking at 05:45 on a lovely still sunny morning. It was not long before I arrived at the banks of the River Blyth and headed inland for about a mile to a bridge over the river. I retraced my steps albeit on the opposite side of the river and emerged on the shingle shore near to the village of Walberswick. The Suffolk Coast Path, which I ignored, disappeared on one of its many detours inland.

The route ahead was very clear with the Sizewell B Nuclear power station dominating the view southwards. I searched for and found my ‘sweet’ walking spot close to the water’s edge, a narrow band of firm wet sand. Walking over the shingle would have been murder. The beach was quite deserted, a good job really, as I had an urgent ‘call of nature’ and with no cover, it was needs must!

Looking south from Southwold with Sizewell in the far distance
At Gun Hill, Southwold
Crossing the River Blyth near Walberswick
Heading along the beach towards Dunwich

I was making excellent time and soon arrived at the small village of Dunwich. Here I decided to walk along the cliff-tops, as it can get a bit boring just walking along the shoreline. I was joined by the Suffolk Coast Path, which I followed for a little while. I passed the ruins of Greyfriars Abbey, a Franciscan monastery founded in the 13th century. The location of the original Abbey suffered coastal erosion and was transferred slightly inland in 1289. I continued on through a lovely mature woodland and emerged on a quiet road that led to Dunwich Heath. I passed the coastguard cottages and dropped down to a well-worn track that lead along and above the shingle shore. I dropped down onto the shore line and continued on towards the Power station.

Decommissioning of Sizewell A Nuclear Power Station began in 2006, while Sizewell B is still generating and will continue until 2055. While another Power Station – Sizewell C is currently planned. After passing Sizewell I head back to the shoreline and continue onto towards Thorpe Ness. Here I come across some council signs that said that due to coastal erosion of the sea defences, access along the beach towards Thorpeness was prohibited until 2020! I took a diversion along the cliff-top and headed into the village of Thorpeness. As a forerunner to holiday camps, Thorpeness was developed with this in mind by its landowner, Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie. Annoyingly, I was unaware of The House in The Clouds (basically a decorated water tower), but did get a good view of the impressive Westgate Tower, a cross between a church tower and mock-Tudor building!

The ruins of Greyfriars – Abbey Dunwich
The Coastguard Cottages at Dunwich Heath
Sizewell A & B Nuclear Power Stations
Jack-Up rig just offshore
Sea Kale near Sizewell

I continued over a grassy expanse of dunes towards Aldeburgh. As I approached Maggi Hambling’s The Scallop, a bus pulled up and emptied its young passengers who immediately descend on the controversial sculpture. I continued into Aldeburgh and terminated my walk at the far end of the town.

I had made excellent time and was desperately trying to go over my travel options in getting back to Southwold. I had not planned on completing the walk this early. I decided to get a #64 bus to Saxmundham, get a train to Halesworth, the catch a #99A bus to Southwold. I did have a long wait in Halesworth, but I was back in Southwold at 14:15.

Local ‘Yoof’ gathered near the Scallop
The museum in Aldeburgh
Fort Green tower mill, then a residential property

Distance today =  19 miles
Total distance = 4,893 miles

 

 

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