Walking on water . . . don’t just go with the flow
PUBLISHED: 14:04 17 June 2014
Lunch by the Waveney locks, a pint by the Orwell at Pin Mill, afternoon tea by the Stour in the heart of Constable Country . . . Suffolk is awash with wonderful waterside experiences, but it’s oh-so-tempting to just go with the flow and stick to our favourite spots.
Could it be time to get to grips with our great range of rivers and see things from a different perspective perhaps? It really doesn’t have to take much effort and it could be surprising just how quickly the rest of your crew get on board with the
Go wild on the Waveney
Wind down the tiny marshland lanes from Beccles to Geldeston’s Wherry Dyke and within minutes you can be bolstered by buoyancy aids and aboard a three man Canadian canoe from Rowan Craft, paddling off through green and pleasant lands towards pastures new. Just beyond Geldeston Locks, the Waveney becomes pleasure boat-free and wildly wonderful along Shipmeadow Marshes. Here, where the mallards and moorhens dip and dive, the cows are at eye level and flocking swans dot the lush grasslands like the brightest oxeye daisies. Between Beccles and Bungay the Waveney has many spots for dipping a paddle or two in the water, so watch out for hire centres at Ellingham and at Outney Meadow where exploring the Bungay Loop makes for a simply splashing day out.
If less of a do-it-yourself-river trip has more appeal, walk up an appetite along the Angles Way from Beccles on the southern side of the Waveney (about 3 miles) or follow the Beccles and Geldeston Waveney Valley Walk for a northern route along the river (+/- 4 miles) and catch the Big Dog Ferry open boat back from Geldeston Locks Inn. And if you think you’re more of a fair weather explorer, try hiring an all weather picnic boat for a gentle half-day outing with younger or less mobile family members. It’s a great way to enjoy the river and its wildlife at your very own pace.
Revisit an ‘Alde’ favourite
Park up at Iken Cliff picnic site and the boardwalk stroll along the Alde to Snape Maltings is pure magic at any time. Make more of a day of it by timing things to include a river trip from the Maltings’ historic grain quay. The low tide tour is a must for birdwatchers, but sailing the winding water channels to spot vintage Thames Barges is always a true Suffolk pleasure.
If you fancy a paddle, best take your shoes and socks off to get onboard at Iken Canoe, just downstream from the Iken Cliff car park. Choose from sit-on kayaks or nice-and-stable, novice-paddler-friendly Canadian canoes and set out into timeless tranquillity where river navigation is still marked as it was in the Bronze Age, with hazel ‘withies’.
Real landlubbers should not be down-hearted though – there’s always the Sailors’ Path to stick to! Start from Aldeburgh and the beautifully varied 6 mile route above the Alde is sure to whet your appetite. There’s many a watering hole at Snape to welcome you, before wending your way back towards the coast.
Dawdle along the Deben
You might find fossilised sharks’ teeth at Ramsholt, but there are always many treasures to admire at Sutton Hoo and the walk with Deben views down to Woodbridge marina has to be one of them.
Upstream, there’s a super river-wall stroll from Kyson Point to the famous Woodbridge tide mill which has its own tales to tell. And where else would you find a beach, a Maybush and an unexpectedly impressive quay in succession, but at Waldringfield? Follow the really refreshing pub walk inland to Newbourne Springs from here or experience the estuary from the water courtesy of Deben Cruises.
Out and about by the Orwell
Choose a wonderful walk from Wherstead, or pick a pub walk from Pin Mill - downstream towards Butterman’s Bay or upstream towards Woolverstone Marina.
Orwell Country Park has some of the finest vistas of boats and birdlife, but nothing tops experiencing the historic locks, big ships and smallest waders close up on a river cruise. ‘Orwell Lady’ cruises start at Ipswich Wet Dock and are the way to see the massive span of the Orwell Bridge and historic Pin Mill from a totally different perspective.
Swan about by the Stour
Why does Constable Country always get in the frame? The Gainsborough Trail from Sudbury has idyllic pastoral scenes which are a picture too! Leading round the Stour’s historic meadows, marshes and commons, this is really one for wildlife with swans by the score at Brundon Mill.
Let the kids have a Lark
Don’t miss the great play areas near the River Lark at Bury’s Abbey Gardens or at West Stow Country Park.
A ferry lovely alternative
Characterful Suffolk ferry services not only give walks/ cycle rides a helping hand, but deliver that little taste of adventure too. From the simplest row boats to small motorised craft be sure to include them in your day at Butley, Felixstowe (Ferry and Landguard Point) and Walberswick (Southwold).