Walks to put a spring in your step
PUBLISHED: 14:28 24 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:56 24 March 2014
Lindsay Want finds space for reflection as she enjoys Suffolk at a slower pace – thanks to David Falk at Discover Suffolk and his special selection of Easy Going Trails
Somehow the path of least resistance always sounds like an attractive proposition. Well done then to Suffolk County Council’s team at Discover Suffolk for coming up with countryside trails designed to make exploring the wonderful world of Suffolk’s great outdoors a really smooth ride.
With spring doing its thing and trying its best to tempt us out of hibernation into the countryside, surely being a stick-in-the-mud is simply out of the question when there are ‘all-weather’ surfaces in the offing? Just right for all ages, abilities and levels of mobility, the Easy Going Trails are sure paths for great little outings, each tried and tested, with distances kept agreeably short and sweet, and with terrain kept firmly, but gently, in check all the way. Even the leafleted maps and directions are exceptionally easy to follow, so you can let the youngsters take the lead with confidence – whether Rover comes with you or not.
More than half of the Easy Going Trails make for inspiring introductions to some of Suffolk’s wildfowl-rich, waterside locations. Where better then to set off with your brood, or bring along a blanket and binoculars to watch the last overwintering birds and catch sight of any new arrivals?
From lakeside loops to coastal stretches and gentle tales of the river bank, you’re sure to take to it all like a duck to water and feel better for it. Go on, isn’t it about time you had a gander at what the countryside can offer?
Hang loose, Mother Goose
Your soul can soar with the gulls, graze alongside the geese and duck ‘n’ dive with the occasional Great Crested Grebe at Needham Lakes, but there’s nothing like getting stuck behind a tractor to put an unexpected smile on your face and take things to another level. Trundling along the tarmac, powered only by pedals and the littlest of legs, this is no vehicle of frustration, but a genuine opportunity to allow yourself to go slow and go with the flow ... all it takes is a little time to rediscover nature.
A mammoth find
Rediscover nature – that’s exactly what they did when quarrying aggregates in the Gipping Valley and the area around West Stow near Bury St Edmunds: it led to a journey back through time and the discovery of Suffolk’s Ice Age elephants. These days, information boards along the Easy Going Trail ‘trunk roads’ around the bird-rich wetlands of Lackford Lakes, West Stow Country Park and Needham Lakes help to tell the tale.
Enjoy a bird’s eye view
Leave the roads behind – it’s time for a railway journey of sorts. Sudbury’s Kingfisher Leisure Centre seems a start for a nicely straightforward, binoculars-at-the-ready sortie along the River Stour. The old track bed provides the firm ground and some great views down over the river and water-meadows. Be sure to head right out to Brundon Mill which has fine reputation for swans. Another riverside route guaranteed to deliver a bird’s eye view has to be the easy access trail along the towpaths of the Lark at Mildenhall.
Ferry nice indeed
Felixstowe’s promenade-cum-sea-wall from Brackenbury towards Felixstowe Ferry offers sightings of gulls galore and makes for a wonderfully solid path up to the first Martello tower on the golf course. Over at the other end of town at Landguard Point, the brilliant boardwalk across one of Suffolk’s best shingle beaches has been discovered by many long distance travellers including the Eastern Subalpine Warbler and American Golden Plover.
A whole raft of new experiences
It would be sheer folly to miss the Tattingstone Wonder on a journey around Alton Water, but it’s worth going off the gravel path to check out the tern rafts and a bird hide at Lemons Bay too.
If you’re feeling brave, the route around the ornamental lake at Brandon Country Park might be on a smaller scale, but it’s always a hit with the kids when it comes to springtime toad spotting. Redgrave and South Lopham Fen is undeniably the place to discover more about the rare Fen Raft Spider on the easy going Spider Trail. The River Waveney has its source here, but further along its course, you’ll find moored boats and moorhens bobbing about by the sturdy paths of the Beccles Marsh trail.
Nearby Carlton Marshes is an eye-opener too – a place to spot Marsh Harriers, freshwater snails from the comfort of your nice, sure path.