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

 

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