Suffolk Coastal Path Day 4 Hollersley to Felixstowe

After a fine breakfast at Poplar Farm, we were back out walking. Our first task was to rejoin the Coastal Path where we had left it yesterday just before Shingle Street.  Shingle Street was a very pretty hamlet with a row of very weather-exposed properties adjacent to Bawdsey Beach.  We saw our first Martello Tower here. This one had been converted into a private residence.

Over the next few miles we saw many of these towers (with 1 metre thick walls) and also other more recent defences from WW2.  We soon reached Bawdsey Car Park and walked into Bawdsey. Radar was developed during WW2 in this area and there were signs of the base still evident. We soon reached Bawdsey Manor and the Bawdsey Ferry.  We waved the sign to attract the attention of the Ferryman and his ancient dog. The crossing was easy and we stopped for second breakfast on the Felixstowe side of the River Deben. We were back to a full-on holiday-maker section now, very much in contrast to the isolated walking of yesterday.

We were pleasantly surprised by the section along the Felixstowe front. It was full of the normal sea-side trappings with ice-cream kiosks and amusement arcades alongside the fish and chip shops and cafes.

We were soon the other side of the Pier and walked on to the Landguard Nature reserve. We watched a large container ship being unloaded in the docks and made it to the Harwich passenger ferry landing point and the end of the Suffolk Coastal Path.

We had walked  15 miles today and 65 miles in total and had been very impressed with the scenery all along the route. Autumn was a good time to do the walk as accommodation would be difficult to obtain in the busy summer months.  It was back home now via the Felixstowe train station refreshed but tired from the journey.

Suffolk Coastal Path Day 3 Aldeburgh to Hollersley

We had 20 miles to tackle today so we left fairly early. Breakfast was taken in a smart place on the High Street and we were on our way again with all of our gear on our backs.  At least we weren’t carrying stoves and tents on this trip…  We headed out of Aldeburgh along the A1094 and picked up the Sailor’s Path which would take us through Black Heath Wood on towards Snape.

This was a pleasant path and we made good progress. We soon arrived at  Snape Maltings having enjoyed the bird-rich River Alde Marshes on the way. A mid-morning coffee here was very welcome. There were many shops and galleries but we didn’t have room our bags to buy too much.  From the Maltings we headed off towards Iken and Chillesford walking on the boardwalk by the marshes of the Alde estuary and up into the Tunstall Forest. The 4.5 miles to Chillesford were very enjoyable with much wildlife evident, although we were slightly geographically challenged along the estuary (probably my fault for concentrating on photography and the estuary views).  Chillesford provided another excuse for refreshments.

A trip to the bar of  The Froize Inn turned a request for two coffees into a half pint of Adnams each. The barman must have thought we were muddy as he suggested we sit outside, which made sense on a sunny day anyway.  The food looked good here, but we needed to press on and get to our accommodation in Hollersley.  Refreshed by our half-pint, we made good progress towards The Butley River. Just before the passenger ferry on the River we “climbed” Burrow Hill with a peak of 15 metres above sea level!  The next section along the River Butley and on to the River Ore felt very isolated but provided stunning views. We were soon back walking along the coast but with the River Ore between us and the Sea.

We were getting tired at this point and we were glad to reach Hollesley Bay and left the path to find our digs for the night at Poplar Farm (booked through Airbnb- a first for us). The farm was a working stables and we were very well looked after.  After a wash and a brush-up, we headed to The Shepherd and Dog Inn for some pub grub. We’d had another excellent day’s walking along the Suffolk Coastal Path., with the highlight being the isolated stretches along the Butley and Ore Rivers. Tomorrow would be our last day as we journeyed to Felixstowe and the train home.

Suffolk Coastal Path Day 2 Southwold to Aldeburgh

We left the bright lights of Southwold and headed across the Town Marshes towards the River Blyth. We caught the rowing boat ferry at a grand cost of £1 each. The guidebook had said 60p, but £1 was still a bargain.

I really like these small ferries – I’d come across a fair few with Jane on the South West Coastal Path. This one had been operated by the same family for five generations.   Next stop was the shoreside edge of Walberswick and its marshes. This area was very quiet compared with Southwold, with a mixture of reed-beds and beach huts making up the view. We pressed on, walking inland now mostly on heathland paths. We passed the remains of Dunwich Friary and a few miles on we came to the National Trust Dunwich Heath Visitors Centre. We were impressed by the local photographer whose work was on display.

This was a coffee stop and suitably refreshed we headed out back along the beach with Sizewell B Nuclear Powerstation coming into view.  This 3.5 mile stretch was very pleasant even with the power station. Another refreshment break was had at the well-named “Sizewell Tea” cafe and we were soon on our way again. Next stop was Thorpeness a village developed as a private holiday resport in early 20th century by Scottish Barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie. We didn’t spend too long exploring as we were quite wary from our walking and we pressed on along the beach to get to Aldeburgh.

We saw the sculpture paying homage to Aldeburgh’s most famous former resident Benjamin Britten. Our digs were just the other side of the Lifeboat Station. We stayed in the Ocean House B&B, which was well appointed but no breakfast was being provided as the owner was away.  A couple of beers were had in the local pubs and Fish and Chips 2 was eaten on the sea front.  We had walked 16.4 miles and had a long day ahead tomorrow to get all the way to Hollersley.

Suffolk Coastal Path Day 1 Lowestoft to Southwold

4 days to do the Suffolk Coastal path was the plan – 55 to 60 miles according to the guide book. It was one we had looked at a few times (the we being Richard and Gary). Finding places to stay had proved a bit tricky but the out of season dates around the end of Sept and the use of AirBnB for the first time made it all come together. Now we would see if the weather stayed on our side. We met at Nottingham train station, grabbed a coffee and jumped on the 07.52 to Lowestoft (with a small stop at Norwich). Bags were of the Osprey variety with weight quite low except for camera gear. We were looking forward to the trip, but were a little worried the route would be poor. It was a walk that we hadn’t heard much about and it was as they say, a bit of an unknown. The Cicerone Guide by Laurence Mitchell would help us on our way.

We had a decent train journey and landed in Lowestoft at 11.35. We nipped to see the Lifeboat – Patsy Knight a Shannon Class and after a photo or two we found the start at the East Point Pavilion fairly easy and we were off ! Garmin watches switched on so distances could be logged…

Route finding was easy – keep the sea on the left and don’t walk backwards…

We took the route closest to the coast and the walking was pleasant with only a few folks around on a Thursday at the end of September. We soon reached Pakefield and admired the thatch roofed church. Here we headed down onto the beach. We planned to walk all the way to Southwold along the front. The tide tables had been checked and it all looked ok.

The beach was empty for the next couple of miles (well except for the odd sea fisherman or two) and the walking was good along a firm beach. The weather was being kind and it felt like a summer’s day even sun cream was discussed. Looking back and forward along the coastline we concluded the route had already exceeded expectations.

We made decent progress and arrived at Kessingland – no coffee shops were open so we pressed on. The sea seemed very distant in this section with a wide beach and shingle area. We nipped in the hide at Benacre Broad nature reserve and saw a heron or two and carried on along the shoreline. This section showed lots of signs of erosion with trees previously in the woodland now collapsed on the beach and smoothed by the waves.

Further on we saw quite a few buildings which had been taken by the sea. Covehithe was our next stop on the route and we decided to carry on with beach route all the way to Southwold. This was a very pleasant 5 miles along the sands in sunshine and Southwold Pier soon came into view, a quick scramble up a cliff and we had arrived.

We walked by the famous beach huts and a well deserved pint of Adnams beer and a sausage roll was taken in the Pier cafe.

Tonight’s digs were the Blyth Hotel. We were made very welcome and after a quick shower we were out to find food. We had walked 13 miles since arriving on 11.35 train so not a bad day’s effort. We chose Coasters and had a decent meal (fish and chips number 1 for Gary). One last pint of Adnams (local brewery – located right in the middle of Southwold) was consumed back in the smart bar of the Blyth Hotel and thoughts turned to the 16 miles we would be tackling on Day 2.