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

 

 

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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

 

 

 

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

 

273. Aldeburgh to Orford

With some nice weather forecasted I decided to continue my journey down the coastline of Suffolk. So after dropping my daughter off at Birmingham Airport I continued along the M6 and A14 towards Suffolk.

I drove and parked in the small village of Orford, a beautiful and charming place to visit. I had to get there early, as there is only one bus out of Orford in a day and that is at 07:05. In retrospect I could have used The Coastal Accessible Transport Service which is available to the general public, with certain services being, understandably, only available to local residents. The bus was bang on time and I was told they were not charging until a few more weeks hence…I did not argue. I got dropped off in Woodbridge and had 50 minutes to wait until I caught the #64 to Aldeburgh. The total cost of the fare from Orford to Aldeburgh was £3.80….not bad value!

I got dropped off at the Fort Green car park in Aldeburgh and continued down Orford Ness, a 10 mile long shingle spit. I was heading for the Martello Tower in the distance. It was a sunny day with a fresh breeze that would keep me cool for most of the day. I arrived at the Martello Tower and met a guest who was staying in the tower. The Tower is owned by The Landmark Trust, a British Conservation Charity founded in 1965. The guest was just on his way out, but he did say that a lot of the original features of The 1812 Tower were still intact.

A short distance after the Martello Tower, no further access south is possible along Orford Ness, as the land was previously used for MOD purposes. I had spoken to the local chap driving the Orford bus in the morning and he said that because no -one from the MOD could guarantee that no ordnance was still around, the land remained out of bounds. However, the southern part of The Ness is a Nature Reserve and is accessible by a ferry service operatig out from Orford, my intended destination.

I retraced my steps back towards Aldeburgh but turned off to follow a footpath along the River Alde. The footpath encircled Aldeburgh Marshes, before leading me back towards Aldeburgh. Looking at the river bank it could have been possible to walk furrher westwards along it, but no paths were marked and I had a long way to travel without the need to double-back. I arrived on the A1094 and continued along a roadside path westwards. I was soon joined by the Suffolk Coastal Path. After the Golf Club, the Suffolk Coastal Path became The Sailors Path, which would continue through Hazlewood Marshes and Blackheath Wood all the way to the first bridging point over the Alde at Snape Maltings. The path was a joy to walk along and offered good shade from the midday sun.

Martello Tower on Orford Ness
Looking south down towards Orford Ness and The River Alde
Waling on duck-boards near Hazelwood Marshes
Looking across to Snape Maltings
The quay at Snape Maltings

I crossed over the River Alde at the Snape Bridge and could see that the Snape Maltings, which is now a large Arts Complex, was very busy. I continued along the Suffolk Coast path, which hugged the shore of the Alde. Shortly after the village of Ilken, all footpaths ceased and I headed along quiet narrow lanes towards High Street, where a footpath crossed over grassy fields back towards the River Alde. I finally emerged back on the opposite bank of the river to what I had been walking around some 5 hours previously. The wind had got up and the River Alde was quite choppy now.
I looked across the river towards the Martello Tower where I had been in the morning. I met two ladies who enquired about the way back to Orford via the Orford Loop. They had no map and I advised that they return to Orford via the Sea Bank, the way they had come. I continued on along the sea bank which followed the River Alde southwards, with the shingle Spit of Orford Ness on the opposite side of the river. The sea bank seemed to drag on forever. Most of the top of the sea bank had short grass, but in some parts it was quite long. Needless to say I was glad to arrive at the Orford and walked up past Orford castle to the square. A very enjoyable walk in a lovely part of the country.

Heading towards Ilken cliff
Typical Suffolk thatched cottage
Looking across the River Aldeburgh to Aldeburgh
Heading south along the Sea Bank
Looking across The River Alde to the old Radar station on Orford Ness
Orford Castle
The square in Orford

Distance today = 21.5 miles

Total distance = 4,948 miles

 

 

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