Why we should never take Suffolk’s stunning countryside for granted

PUBLISHED: 16:16 08 April 2020

Saxtead Mill seen across an oil seed rape field on a sunny spring day. Picture: SIMON PARKER        EADT 1 06 06  EADT 13 06 06  ES 31 08 06

Saxtead Mill seen across an oil seed rape field on a sunny spring day. Picture: SIMON PARKER EADT 1 06 06 EADT 13 06 06 ES 31 08 06

Archant

Rediscovering the countryside on his doorstep is one of the joys of living in Suffolk for Terry | Terry Hunt is former editor of the East Anglian Daily Times. Suffolk born and bred, he lives in Ipswich

I spend more time in the Suffolk countryside nowadays than I have since my childhood – and that’s a few decades ago.

Growing up in Cretingham, surrounded by rich farmland, and next to the River Deben, I had lots of time and space to explore the surrounding countryside.

My friends and I would disappear for hours, losing ourselves (sometimes quite literally) in the fields, meadows, and woodland.

I would never claim to have become anything of an expert on the countryside, but I was very familiar with the sights, sounds and smells. I’m not sure I fully appreciated how lucky I was.

After leaving home and starting work, I lost my close connection with rural life.

My home, and my job, were both town-based, and that’s where I spent the vast majority of my time. I only ventured into Suffolk’s countryside to travel from A to B, and that was in a car, which doesn’t count.

Since retiring, though, I’ve managed to at least partially put that right. Although my family home is still on the edge of Ipswich, I now spend as much time as I can walking in the glorious countryside which our county offers.

One of the best things about our county town of Ipswich is that, after only a few minutes of walking, you can be in what appears to be deep and remote countryside.

I wrote recently about a walk I did from the north of the town with former East Anglian Daily Times picture editor Dave Kindred. We ended up in the delightful hamlet of Akenham, which feels so remote, even though you can still glimpse Ipswich.

The same thing applies even closer to my family home. Within ten minutes of leaving my front door I can be in the rolling countryside of the beautiful Fynn Valley. Ipswich is only a couple of miles away, but it might as well be 100.

Some of my favourite walks are when my sister Karen and I revisit places which were special to us in childhood. Villages and countryside around the Framlingham area, like Earl Soham, Framsden and, of course, quiet, unobtrusive Cretingham.

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My family has lived there for more than 15 generations, so it’s no surprise I feel a very special connection with the place.

I absolutely love walking in deeply rural Suffolk. People are wrong when they accuse our county of being flat. They would certainly change their minds after a brisk walk in some of our rolling river valleys.

What I appreciate most is that our countryside is real. Very quickly, you can find yourself miles from anywhere. You can walk for hours without meeting a single person. It is genuine wilderness. Beautiful.

Contrast that to some of the fake countryside you’ll find closer to London. It might seem like the real thing, but in fact it’s all manicured and managed, and there’s probably some awful urban intrusion waiting just over the next hill.

I mentioned that when I was young I probably didn’t appreciate how lucky I was, living in the heart of rural Suffolk. Well now – before it’s too late – I really have come to understand the joys of the countryside.

I’m still no expert. Ask me about a plant as we walk past and I’ll probably give you a blank look. But I don’t think you need to know everything – just enjoy it for what it is.

I know not everyone is able to venture into the deep countryside but, if you can, leave the car at home and stretch those legs for an hour or two. It really is wonderful. It’s also very relaxing, and healthy. Exercise and fresh air. What could be better?

Suffolk’s countryside has a very special magic all of its own, and It is just one of the many reasons we’re so lucky to live in this county.

Enjoy – and please make sure you follow the Countryside Code!

huntt1957@gmail.com

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