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

 

 

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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