Day 48: English Coastal Path

Day 48: SOUTHWOLD to ALDEBURGH

Wednesday 26th June 2021

Today miles: 17.2 Total miles: 743.3

After breakfast we drove the short distance to Halesworth and then jumped on board the 99A bus which would drop us off in the centre of Southwold. There were a few grey clouds lingering in the sky but the forecast for today was for a much drier day then yesterday. The first section of today’s walking was a nice gentle stroll along the Northern bank of the River Blyth. The old fishermen’s huts have been converted into several independent shops/cafes and I love the way that they’ve maintained an authentic look. It was still early in the morning but the area was already busy with lots of other walkers and cyclists. We crossed the river at the sluice bridge after about 20 minutes of walking and then set off down the opposite bank which by now was much quieter. I had earlier mentioned to Gemma about a ferry that operated across the River Blyth and we both had a chuckle when we saw the oarsman rowing his way across the 15 metre wide waterway in his small blue rowing boat.

We pushed on past Walberswick before heading towards the windmill highlighted on our map, near Dingle. Unfortunately this particular windmill has fallen into disrepair and is unlike many of the others that I have seen recently in Norfolk/Suffolk. We sat on the bank of the river for our first short break before continuing into the Eastern fringe of Dunwich Forest. The sign ‘cattle grazing’ sets Gemma on edge but fortunately the said animals did not make an appearance. We’re about 6 miles down and ready for a well earned coffee. As we wander towards Dunwich I spotted the chalk A-board indicating a cafe on the sea front. I wasn’t expecting too much so was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the impressive Flora Tea Rooms. It’s a popular place to eat but we just settled for a hot drink and I also grabbed myself a cold can of fizzy pop for later.
After GreyFriars wood we again deviated away from the Suffolk Coastal Path and instead we walked along a minor road until we arrived on the North-Eastern edge of Minsmere Level RSPB nature reserve. This vast area of wetland, heathland and woodland is home to a diverse number of birds and is an internationally important site. It’s so strange to see the enormous Sizewell B nuclear power plant in the background. Despite this enormous, drab grey EDF plant it’s still a pleasant walk towards Thorpeness.

By now we’ve been walking for more then 6 hours and 15 miles, I know from previous experience this is about the maximum length that Gemma’s comfortable with walking in a single day. I was a little naughty in telling Gemma today was only about 15 miles in total and really knowing it was in excess of 17 miles, I did fess up to her later, as we waited for the bus to arrive. I grabbed us another coffee from Thorpeness and this helped to get through the final two miles. The route through the dunes into Aldeburgh was uneventful and we passed by the controversial 4 metre high, stainless steel scallop shell sculpture close to the town centre. The sculpture isn’t really my cup of tea and I’ve since heard it’s been vandalised several times, that’s a real shame. Art work like that is always open to argument and controversy. In Aldeburgh we sat and relaxed in a nice shelter whilst I checked the bus timetables back to Halesworth. Two buses and two hours later we were back at our accommodation in Wangford, sat in the pub and enjoying a couple of cold drinks. A member of staff behind the bar apologised for the ants nest in our bathroom and gave us our cold drinks ‘on the house’ great result. I’ll maybe carry a jar of ants with me in future.

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