Today we took advantage of the sunny weather to do a 4 mile circular walk beside the River Stour and Alton Water taking in Lower Holbrook, Holbrook Creek, Stutton, Alton Water and Holbrook.
Starting out at Holbrook Creek the path runs along the top of the river wall giving great views out over the Stour on one side and the grounds of the Royal Hospital School on the other. The RHS, originally created for the sons of officers and men in the Navy and Marines, moved here from Greenwich in the early 1930’s.
The route then turns inland passing St Peter’s Church, Stotton and Stotton House (mentioned in the Doomsday Book), along a wooded lane and onto Alton Water Reservoir which supplies drinking water to the majority of homes in the south-east of the county and is a popular spot for boating, biking and walking.
Crossing the dam at the eastern end of the reservoir the walk continues down into Holbrook, through a tree plantation and past the 15th-century Holbrook Mill, now residential but an operational mill for some four hundred years.
The final 1,000 yards has you follow the mill brook as it winds it’s way down to Lower Holbrook to conclude the walk back at Holbrook Creek.
Two miles to the north of Felixstowe, on the mouth of the river Deben, sits the small hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry, so named after the small ferry that takes foot passengers across to Bawdsey on the other side of the estuary. Coastal erosion is a serious problem here and millions have been spent in the last decade on the sea walls to prevent this small community from being washed away. Its pub – The Ferryman – is an enduring favourite as is it’s café which serves up decent food at sensible prices. There is a small boat yard, a multitude of small yachts and boats anchored just up river, a Martello tower, a small shop (selling locally caught seafood) and a few spots for kids to do a bit of crabbing. All unspoilt and it rarely gets crowded (well not so on any of my trips there). Available from the same jetty as the ferry are boats offering trips up and down the Deben, while on the Bawdsey side is Bawdsey Manor, a top secret RAF research centre during WWII, that became one of Britain’s first radar stations.
Sitting cheek by jowl with the Port of Felixstowe on the Orwell Estuary is Languard Point the tip of the Languard Peninsular, forty-six hectares of land that is now primarily a wildlife habitat but one that is scattered with military gun emplacements, lookout posts, tank traps and jetties. All of this is watched over by Languard Fort, which dates back to 1540 (with numerous additions since) and whose initial responsibility was to guard the entrance to the Orwell from invasion by sea but more recently (amongst many other uses) was a launch site for Operation Outward a WWII project whose aim was to attack Germany with free-flying incendiary balloons. The sand and shingle are now home to a number of rare plants (we spotted a few miniature orchids) and the ground nesting site for many migrant birds.
A month ago we enjoyed a great day out in the Suffolk coastal town of Southwold and a bit more of the same today (sans Sun) in Thorpeness, also on the Suffolk coast, 25 miles from Ipswich and a few miles north of Aldeburgh. Once a small fishing hamlet the entire area was purchased in 1910 by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie. Ogilvie had made his fortune in the design of railways around the globe and set about turning Thorpeness into a private fantasy holiday village, to which friends, family and work colleagues were invited during the summer months. Still very much a holiday village today the population swells from 400 to four times that number in season. Major attractions in the village are the ‘House in the Clouds’, a water tower disguised in mock-Tudor style and just a mater of fifty yards away the Grade II listed Thorpeness Mill.
Today is the first of a two day break from work and we headed up the A11 in glorious sunshine to Southwold. Despite being a Monday there were still quite a number of fellow tourists/holidaymakers around although not in sufficient numbers to spoil my first visit to Britain’s quintessential seaside resort (Mrs Extremegroundhopping has been here several times before on school trips).
Dubbed Hampstead-on-Sea, due to its high number of second and very expensive homes, it has retained its original character and thus avoided the modernisation and commercialistaion that have ruined (in my opinion) the likes of Yarmouth another popular seaside destination a bit further up the Suffolk coast. Southwold is a very pretty town indeed. It has a recently renovated pier, a working lighthouse slap in its middle, a couple of large and well looked after churches, lots of shops selling local produce, brightly coloured beach huts and an Adnam’s brewery!
A short walk along the beach brings you to the equally pleasant Southwold Harbour. Once a bustling herring port locally caught sea food is still landed here and is available from the half-dozen or so fishmongers that are scattered in amongst the boat repair yards. And not forgetting the Alfred Corry Museum that is home to a beautifully restored 1893 lifeboat.