Owen Peters finds out about walking in Suffolk along the Deben Estuary from Felixstowe to Woodbridge.
I plan to spend today walking in Suffolk along the coast and The Deben Estuary river. My day, however starts in Ipswich. Although the heady days are long gone when Ipswich was a thriving maritime port, today I’m in luck. A reminder of those halcyon days are on view. Lined up in the town’s new swish marina surrounded by new waterside apartments, restaurants and Ipswich College Campus are a dozen or so multi masted tallships. The display boards indicate they are part of a training or adventure programme, clearly enjoyable as various early morning party’s are still ongoing from the night before. Ships resting, securely moored with their sails resting alongside mast and booms like drunken sailors awaiting their next port of call. A wonderful sight to behold.
Old ships crewed by the youth of today. There’s a parable in their somewhere.
As I Leave Ipswich port behind with a tinge of envy at those youthful endeavours, i’m all set for a short train ride, Ipswich to Felixstowe. Felixstowe is just 3 miles from the 1912 Centre group accommodation at Harwich, which would make a great base for a walking group planning on doing this route. Today I plan on walking from Felixstowe to Woodbridge via the Deben Estuary.
Alighting the train I’m keen to get away from Felixstowe town centre and begin my walk along the promenade. However I’m struck by how many charity shops the town has. Perhaps a UK record?
Overcast and a touch chilly, it’s late morning with only the occasional hardy dog walker in sight. The first section of the walk is promenade for four miles or so towards Bawdsey quay and ferry.
Past unoccupied beach huts, Martello towers and grey waters of the North Sea, the sun finally makes an appearance, which is a welcome sight.
Bawdsey bathed in late morning sunshine is picture perfect. Suffolk epitomised. Stunning views over the estuary. A meeting point for walkers, cyclists and families working out what to do after the ice creams have been eaten.
After a light breakfast at the quayside cafe I decide to stay with my plan to walk into Woodbridge from the south side of the river. The inland path is well sign posted so I’m off, fed watered ready for the walk ahead. The only activity is on the water, an occasional dinghy and crew out for a recreational sail from A to B. No one else is walking in Suffolk today! Well not this bit anyway!
The path stays close to the estuary edge. It loops back and forth, side to side like someone who has furiously scribbled on paper trying to get an uncooperative pen to work.
When dark clouds blot out the sun a cold mist sweeps from the water’s edge, resulting in a chilly, eerie sensation which shoots through my clothing. Like a magician wand has been waived, the sun and bodily warmth returns. I’ve been walking over two hours, still no one about.
Then abruptly without warning, the path ends. Due to erosion no through way. As per the previous day inland I must go with a touch of sadness the river and I must part.
Pretty churches, well tended cottage gardens and minor roads are my companions for another hour or so. Ahead is a main road (bugger) signposted four miles to Woodbridge.
I check in with the local shop if their is a more rural route available. Sadly the answer is no.
So for the next hour and a half I’m on traffic watch as I traverse a mixture of pavements, tarmac and disused paths. The walk has now become functional signs for Woodbridge rail station can’t come quickly enough. As ever wanting the journey to end only has the opposite effect, it seems to forever before I come across any railway signage.
The wait is worthwhile. Woodbridge station is perched next to the Deben estuary, a lovely setting. I decide to walk some of the river path, needing to clear my head from the noise of traffic. I find a secluded spot to eat, drink and rest my throbbing feet. Far too much tarmac.
Although I’m tempted to explore the riverside paths I decide to call it a day and take an early evening train back to Ipswich.
Woodbridge and the surrounding areas, definitely one for another time.
A walk which started well, but ended up with too much pavement and tarmac. However well worth the time, and as ever walking in Suffolk has sights and sounds which are a pleasure to have experienced.