Marginal seats . . . inspired walks with Lindsay Want
PUBLISHED: 21:56 03 August 2015 | UPDATED: 21:56 03 August 2015
Lindsay heads off along Suffolk footpaths in search of places to enjoy a picnic and a special kind of sandwich
One of the great things about Suffolk is that you can have it both ways. Wander out from Westleton across the rich purple heather beds of Dunwich Heath to crack open your lunchbox on the bench beyond those iconic clifftop cottages and there you have it. Coast and countryside. This way and that. Sandwiched by sea and sky. One wonderful view, two very different sides of the Suffolk equation. And somehow always deliciously bright and beautiful, even when the day hasn’t quite landed sunny side up.
Nibble at the edge
There’s something irresistible about eating on the edge, be it up there aloft of Docwra’s Ditch with Minsmere views or perched on the Scallop sculpture along Aldeburgh’s rising shingle strip, with memories of the railway walk’s wooded tracks and the haunting marshlands of North Warren behind you. Clamber up through the wooded passageways to the top of Lowestoft’s Sparrow’s Nest and venture onwards and upwards via secret garden stairways to the perfectly positioned benches of Belle Vue Park. Look out in one direction to surfeit on sea and sky; look out in the other direction - in case a brave squirrel hops across the lawns to share more than just your lunchtime view.
Make a meal of it
Walks are great appetisers and Walberswick tempts with the ultimate BLT combo (Boardwalk – Lanes – Tales of the Riverbank). Little footpaths lead along woodland and meadow margins by Hoist Covert, dropping down onto the boardwalks of Old Town Marshes and Dunwich River. A choice of tracks trail off more or less into ‘town’ and the historic lanes around mighty St Andrew’s. After a cut across the Common, there’s the old railway line which carves its way across Robinson’s Marshes to Bailey Bridge and the Blyth. By the bench near the row-boat ferry jetty, gulls take it in turns to share a crumb or two. It’s a favourite spot to savour by the water’s edge, but it’s busier by far than any seat above the curlew cries of the Deben at Woodbridge’s Kyson Point, or the much-loved bench in Erwarton churchyard on the Shotley Peninsular, where the world of big ships silently passes you by out on the Orwell below.
Share something special
But even inland edges, those marginal moments alongside fields and hedgerows can be windows onto different worlds. Munch your lunch not far from the Stour, by thatched St Stephen’s Chapel around the back of Bures and there are literally dragons in them there hills. The pew with a view on the field margin is enjoyed by so many that there’s even a visitors’ book to record the excitement – and an odd tasty morsel about the picnic fayre too!
A stroll and a stop by the streams of vines, round the edge of Framlingham’s Shawsgate Vineyard; a field margin path to follow, past apple and cherry orchards en route to the lost world of South Elmham Minster in the mysterious Saints; a scented trail of high hedges to the serene seat amidst the wild flowers of Bildeston community meadow or the bench round the back by the Needham Lakes butterfly garden: marginal paths make for great little seasonal adventures and delightful discoveries.
But few spots turn tide with the seasons quite like the area between Sudbourne and Orford. Throughout the year, all along the wonderful walk from Tunstall Forest edge to Orford quayside, borderlands become more or less defined; skies shift in size; tree tunnels come and go; colours blaze now intense, breath-taking yellow, loud with buzzing bees: now intense, silent darkness, as sharp and deep as the clean curving furrows which sway their way regardless of any breeze across the landscape.
Snacking on a seat, looking back at Sudbourne All Saints’, a shimmering sea of plastic stretched tight across the soil delivers a delicious illusion. Higher on the hill, the view towards the church across the hidden reservoir proves even more refreshing. Further along the field-side bridleway before the final stretch to civilisation, another bench brings castle views. Chained to a tree in a much-loved spot, it seems particularly firm of purpose. Perhaps this is Suffolk’s ultimate place for an immovable feast on the edge of a world where coast and countryside are just so much closer than you’d think… n