Truly gifted . . . well, it’s that time of year
PUBLISHED: 17:46 01 December 2014 | UPDATED: 17:46 01 December 2014
Lindsay Want unpacks a sack load of Suffolk countryside walks worth sharing with friends and family this Christmas, delivered by David ‘Santa’ Falk and the Suffolk County Council’s Discover Suffolk project
When it comes to fab places to get all fired up about this Christmas or inspiring landscapes to make the most of your chill out time, Suffolk simply has it all.
What could be better than a bracing blast past the Martello towers towards Felixstowe Ferry before the next round of turkey and tinsel? Can anything come remotely as close to feeling history underfoot as on the ancient Icknield Way, up among the morning mists on lonely Knettishall Heath? Surely nothing tastes quite as good as a warm and richly deserved hot chocolate, after the sort of river-view ramble from Clare that colours the kids’ cheeks as pink as those iconic Cavendish cottages?
Suffolk walks come in all shapes and sizes, but our most memorable ones are without doubt those we’ve yet to share. What about a welly-boot squelch with the little ones round Redgrave Fen or a gentle mooch around Framlingham Mere with a loved one? Or perhaps a determined crunch down Shingle Street with a couple of friends? Or light-hearted fun and games with the all the family along Lark Valley Path on Mildenhall’s easy-going trail?
Planning a special walk for friends and family this Christmas is a real gift thanks to the great portfolio of downloadable countryside routes and trails available from the Discover Suffolk project. And with simply so many to choose from, there’s bound to be one with your name on it…
A present for Cliff
Pardon all puns, but don’t you think he’d fancy a walk along the dramatic, weathered coastline just north of Southwold? Set out on the Suffolk Coast and Heath’s pub walk from Wrentham and stop to wonder at the towering ruins of St Andrew’s at Covehithe before following field margin paths and the tree tunnel track, Smugglers Lane, down to the beach renowned for its crumbling sandy cliffs. If Bill’s in the party, then best take the binoculars and head up along the beach to spot the bright beaks of the oystercatchers from the bird hide at Benacre Broad.
Something for Bob
Well, if he likes watching boats, then the Shotley Point Stroll has this one covered in all directions. There are magnificent views of both the Stour and Orwell estuaries, of Harwich Haven and the Port of Felixstowe as well as close encounters of the bobbing kind at the marina on this three mile circular around Shotley Gate. Alternative ‘gift’ ideas might be the 3.75 mile Woodbridge pub walk past the moored boats and marina along the Deben towards Melton or the easy access trail along the River Waveney at Beccles Marsh.
What about Clare?
Easy one this – just check out the Angels & Pinnacles Church Heritage Trail from Cavendish which leads out by the Stour to the motte and bailey castle and awesome country park in the picturesque wool town of Clare. Don’t miss the magnificence of St Peter and St Paul’s or the eerie priory ruins before heading up along the valley slopes back to Cavendish and its ‘golden wonder’ of an altarpiece at St Mary’s.
Then there’s Rosemary
They’re bound to enjoy a family outing to the Abbey Gardens at Bury St Edmunds and find themselves singing the seasonal praises of the Pilgrim’s Herb Garden, the Sensory Garden and River Lark walk, bright with red and green dogwoods. There are squirrels to spot and exotic ‘tweets’ in the aviaries, history round every hedge and great play areas for the kids too – a place where you’ll soon have all generations singing from the same hymn sheet!
Don’t forget Eddie…
A visit to Newbourne Springs is sure to bring more than just a trickle of excitement to his Christmas proceedings – maybe a little whirl even! The Springs once kept the population of Felixstowe well watered, but these days the area where the water emerges between the Red Crag and London Clay is a charming nature reserve – all fen, wood and waterfalls and home to Little Egrets and Tree-creepers alike. As part of the five-mile Suffolk Coast and Heaths Waldringfield pub walk, there are also two notable watering holes to discover en route!
Or Doug and Pete
Up near Lowestoft on the southern tip of the Suffolk Broads, Carlton Marshes comprises more than 100 acres of grazing marsh, fens and freshwater pools like Sprat’s Water, the result of peat diggings carried out long ago. There’s both a lovely Waveney Valley Walk and a shorter, buggy-friendly easy access trail to enjoy direct out of Oulton Broad Station and round the Carlton Marshes Nature Reserve. The longer route clocks up 4.5 miles, touching the Angles Way briefly along the River Waveney.
A gift for Shelley
Well, a beautiful riverside walk along the Orwell from the Butt and Oyster at Pin Mill seems quite appropriate. Or perhaps she’d prefer Aldeburgh, that firm family favourite where the kids love to clamber and perch on the slippery silver Scallop? The three-mile pub walk there makes for a jolly coast and countryside jaunt and includes a picturesque stretch of the old Aldeburgh to Saxmundham railway line. Alternatively, just offer to whisk her away to Bawdsey beach – probably Suffolk’s premium location for any budding collector of shells.