Join the high flyers

PUBLISHED: 01:56 17 July 2012 | UPDATED: 21:37 20 February 2013

Join the high flyers

Join the high flyers

Lindsay Want joins David Falk, manager of Suffolk County Council's countryside access project, Discover Suffolk, to touch the skies of Shingle Street and explore the blustery beauty of some of Suffolk's windier haunts

Lindsay Want joins David Falk, manager of Suffolk County Councils countryside access project, Discover Suffolk, to touch the skies of Shingle Street and explore the blustery beauty of some of Suffolks windier haunts

Its all absolutely breathtaking hardy red drifts of heathy Sheeps Sorrel and gusts of white campion nodding knowingly on the wildest beaches; cliffs crumbling from whipped up waves; wind-washed silvery dunes and whole stretches of speckled shingle spits tossed up by storms. Even before the sea breezes chance to blast hairstyles asunder and rush in to fill the space where words should be, the sheer scale of primeval power is simply overwhelming: the very essence of the Suffolk coast, its shifting shape, scattering of flora and haunting spirit is all down to the wind.

Suffolk was certainly born to be blustery and from the mighty Gulliver wind turbine at Lowestoft to the rocky sea defences newly strengthened at Felixstowe, the wind and what it does to the waves is the make and break of our county. Inland, historic post and tower mills tell a similar tale. It is part of our heritage, part of our future; inexplicably drawn to it and exhilarated by it, just like the coast, it is part of us.

Everyone should have a go at flying a kite. Its certainly not just for kids and doesnt have to become a determined tussle between warrior and wind. Whats more, were spoilt for wide open spaces in Suffolk village greens, old airfield sites, brilliant beaches so surely it would be a crime not to? Best put all those Mary Poppins memories behind you though tuppence these days probably wont buy the paper let alone any string to make your own set of wings, but a good-looking cutter or delta with strong fibre-glass struts should leave plenty of change from a tenner.

Shingle Street has to be a favourite kite-flying haunt a curious sort of place dotted only with dog-walkers and the occasional determined fisherman, tented up near the waters edge as the curve of the bay scoops round from Martello Tower to Bawdsey Point. On the approach from Hollesey, where woodlands give way to the lowest, stillest lagoons, a cottagers white wash billows out high on the line at the rear of an equally bright coastguard terrace. Next door, a weather vane fish twists its tail at the top of the porticoed Mansion. Climb aboard the massive hull of shingle and it is clear even on a misty day, that the natural world is populated in places only by a sparse and motley crew of dwellings. It is an overwhelmingly empty place: far, far reaching and brimful of sky; so very full of breezes, so positively uplifting.

A ribbon of white whelk shells stretches from the Coastguard Cottages towards the sea like a long kite tail, adorned from time to time with pale bordered bows of the greenest succulent sea kale, pinky sweet peas or burst of white campion. Piece of conscious art or organic, therapeutic pastime? No matter. As it criss-crosses the shingle banks it somehow puts nature in mans perspective.

Launch the kite, grounding your heels firmly in the shingle and the effect is somehow the same. Strings unwind leading fabric shape and focus higher and higher into the Suffolk sky. And so there grows an exhilarating, heightened awareness of the unseen, unfathomable world around us. Theres a battle of wills, a powerful dance, a pulling at the leash to explore further and further and we share every feeling moment of it. When you fly a kite, theres no question about it there is simply something in the air.

More great places for kiting caper

From Dunwich down to Shingle Street, there are plenty of pebbly paradises to let your kite stretch its string. If that all sounds a bit bumpy underfoot, head up to the soft golden expanses near Kessingland.

Theres nothing like a good hill when youre in search of a breeze. Pity Suffolk is a bit challenged in that department. Just inside Orwell Country Park, at Nacton near Ipswich, redevelopment of an old airfield introduced the slope up out of the heathland known as The Tump.

Crowned with a wind reactive sculpture by environmental artist, Diane Maclean, it also affords great views falling away to the impressive Orwell Bridge. Surely one of the most fantastic urban places to fly a kite in Suffolk, theres a ready-made downhill run way for the kids to get up speed and practically any type of kite to get off the ground.

The loudest little skylarks climb constantly higher to court their colourful new playmates. Meanwhile the wings of the towering "Green Wind" sculpture turn gently, changing from blues, greens and pinks as they catch the seasonal light.

Framlingham Castle,

is an amazing location for a spot of gentle kiting with the kids. Making a mad dash between the battlements, cavorting with the kite strings on the plateau above the Mere or up on Castle Meadow brings a whole new cool dimension to a great day out.

Country parks, commons or village greens offer big enough tree-free zones to get the kite tail dancing. Look for signs promising decent wind: at Saxtead Green the historic postmill is a bit of a give-away and makes for a fantastic backdrop for serious kiting.

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