Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Felixstowe to Hollesley - 30 June 2012 - 11 miles

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This walk was originally advertised as "Southwold to Aldeburgh", but the threat of cloudy weather made me change my mind.  The four places of interest on the planned walk - Southwold, Walberswick, Dunwich and Aldeburgh all required a sunny day to be seen at their best on what might be my only visit.  I therefore decided to tackle the unwalked stretch of the Suffolk coast from the south.

My journey out was along the well defined route of the 0600 from Birmingham International to Euston, a quick dash along the Circle Line and then the 0800 from Liverpool Street, arriving at Ipswich 10 minutes late by 0917.  From there, a short walk into Ipswich and photographs of what appears to be a city with many attractive features.  Then I boarded the 77 bus at the bus station in the "Old Cattle Market" which took me to Landguard Fort at Felixstowe by 1040.
Languard Fort was originally built by Henry VIII and is the only existing fort to have seen active service, repulsing a raid by the Dutch in 1667. The construction is massive, but it is set so low in the ground that it is virtually impossible to obtain a decent photograph.  Of more interest on that day was a spectacle on the River Orwell between Felixstowe and Harwich.  Around 6 to 8 Thames sailing barges were racing in the harbour.  They made a magnificent sight with their red sails.  Despite the windy weather, they were under what appeared to be full sail and were moving very quickly through the choppy water.
Thames sailing barge at Felixstowe
I enjoyed this event as I made my way to Landguard Point and turned back towards Felixstowe, crunching shingle underfoot as I walked.  I was beginning to panic a little at this point as I had been unable to telephone my wife to report my safe arrival.  I had assumed that there was a temporary fault with the network, but the extreme slowness in restoring normal service began to suggest otherwise.  To complicate matters, two phone boxes I passed were out of order and appeared to have been in the same state for quite a long period of time.  Eventually the obliging proprietor of the first fish and chip shop I came across allowed me to use his phone for the essential call.  If you are ever in Felixstowe please show my gratitude by visiting the establishment!
Help is at hand
There then followed a gentle stroll along the promenade past the unremarkable pier (1145 - 2.7 miles) and the grand houses which became even more grand as I travelled northwards.  At Old Felixstowe, I had to detour inland as work was being carried out on the beach to reinforce the cliff.  I soon regained the cliff which then gradually sloped down to Felixstowe ferry at the mouth of the River Deben.  As I descended, Bawdsey Manor made a spectacular view in its woodland setting across the river.  The Manor was built by Sir William Cuthbert Quilter in 1886, but is most famous for the development of Radar during the Second World War.
Bawdsey Manor
Past a couple of Martello Towers and then a little upstream took me to the Deben Ferry (1255 - 5.8 miles) which was situated near a group of old buildings that would have been picturesque had it not been for the many cars that were parked in front of them.  I found the ferry moored to the jetty, so I wasted no time as we were off just as soon as I was on board.  The fare was the princely sum of £2 for the crossing and I was the only passenger on that crossing.  On reaching the other side, I had to disembark onto the shingle as the North Jetty was out of action for repairs.  Despite this, the transition from boat to land was achieved smoothly.
The Deben Ferry
At Bawdsey Quay I found several substantial building that were probably part of the 19th Century Bawdsey Estate - One house in particular appeared to be a lodge to the manor house seen earlier.  My original plan was to return to the mouth of the Deben on the north bank and walk around the manor along the coast path by the sea.  Since I was feeling a little achy at that time, I took the road to Bawdsey instead.  My decision was confirmed as correct when I came across a "Footpath Closed" notice at the point where the two routes met.  Meanwhile I walked alongside the grounds of the Manor which were attractive despite a number of MOD building in a state of semi-ruin.  When I visited the area about 30 years ago, a number of Bloodhound surface to air missiles were to be seen.  All that now remains are the concrete bases where they were sited.
I then passed through the village of Bawdsey (1345 - 7.7 miles) which is an attractive sprawl along the B1083.  The sturdy church tower is very large relative to the diminutive nave and the blue clad scaffolding indicated that restoration work was in progress.  The road then led past arable fields to either side into the village of Alderton (1405 - 8.8 miles).  There, I was greeted by a somewhat larger church (without tower), an attractive village sign which has become a common site on my visits to East Anglia and village centre cottages rendered in a delightful range of colours.
All you need to know about Alderton

Outside Alderton, I came across a WW2 bunker by the roadside, a substantial round affair with a steel door.  Moving on, I had a good view of the Shingle Street coastguard houses by the sea.  Finally on the way to Hollesley I was passed by two vintage buses which may have been on their way to the Village Fete.  I saw no sign of activity on the way to my destination at the Shepherd and Dog in the centre of the village (1505 - 11.2 miles), so I determined that the Fete was taking place further on..  I was very pleased to see a sympathetic new development of new houses close to the pub and took the opporunity to inspect the show house.  Thence, I returned for refreshment at The Shepherd and Dog before boarding the bus for Woodbridge.
The bus was small and modern, but disturbingly was adapted to take a significant number of disabled passengers.  However, it was free and efficiently carried me and the only other passenger to Woodbridge.  There was almost an hour wait for the train to Ipswich, so I took myself around the town admiring some of the ancient buildings and unspoiled shopping streets as I went.  It is something of a tourist trap, so I didn't buy any food there, but went back to the station and caught the train which rattled its way back to Ipswich.

I had spare time at Ipswich so went in search of food there, but found only a Subway, so I made my way back to the station munching one of their creations before boarding the train to Liverpool Street Station.  On arrival in London, I was delighted to learn that the London Festival was in full swing and one of the highlights was the placement of several pianos in locations around the City available for anyone to play.  The one at Liverpool Street was sounding out to classical music played by a young man.
Liverpool Street Piano
It was soon time to catch the tube train to Euston and the 2103 train which arrived at Birmingham International at 2233.  Thence to the car and home.

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