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Discovering Bawdsey & Sutton Heath

Written by Andrew Woodhouse on

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On an unusually dry and sunny weekend in January, my boyfriend and I decided to visit Bawdsey – a small hamlet situated on the southern shores of the beautiful Suffolk coast.

We started our day, bright and early with a delicious breakfast at Honey and Harvey in Woodbridge. We then headed out towards Melton and turned onto Wilford Bridge Road (A1152), before turning right onto the B1083 at the mini roundabout.

En route, we passed Sutton Hoo - the award winning heritage attraction and burial site of an Anglo Saxon King. 

Continuing along the B1083 and armed with a Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Explorer Map, we stopped at Sutton Heath for a quick stroll through this unspoilt area of lowland heath. This beautiful and tranquil area features expanses of heather, forest and woodland and is a haven for numerous species of wildlife, insects, reptiles and birds including bats, woodlark, lizards and nightjar. We were hoping that we’d spot the ponies that live on Sutton Heath during our visit which were introduced as part of a heathland management programme, but we were unlucky on this occasion! Nevertheless, we both enjoyed the serenity of being on the heath and were sure we heard the “churring” of an elusive nightjar – which was perhaps hiding amongst the undergrowth!

We continued on our journey, passing Bawsey Radar on the way. Bawdsey Radar played an incredible part in Britain’s military history during the last century, and in 1937, became the world’s very first radar station.  We would have liked to have visited the transmitter exhibition, which offers a fascinating insight into how scientists discovered that radio waves could locate ships, aeroplanes and other targets. However, we discovered that the exhibition does not open to the public until Easter 2014. (See bottom of blog post for 2014 open days).

We then continued our journey and stopped at the Bawdsey Quay car park where we found a visitor map with details of the Suffolk Coastal Path walk. Passing the famous Bawdsey Boathouse café (which we returned to for a delicious late lunch) and Bawdsey Quayside Watersports (where you can hire kayaks and learn to sail), we were greeted with the breathtaking view across the River Deben towards the old fishing village of Felixtowe Ferry. During the warmer months, you can catch a foot ferry from Bawdsey Quay over to Felixtowe Ferry. From here you can walk to the Martello Tower which sits at the mouth of the River Deben (on its southern banks). 

We then followed the Suffolk Coastal Path onto Bawdsey Beach – but had to take a slight inland detour due to coastal erosion. Once we reached Bawdsey beach we were both taken aback by the “Mediterranean” feel of this stretch of coastline. The rich golden sand cliffs which had succulent plants cascading down it, with a backdrop of clear, blue skies transported us into a different world!  The only landmark that seemed to indicate that we were in fact in England was the striking, red brick Bawdsey Manor which sits high above the beach.  We walked for approximately 1-2 miles along the beach passing the eerie shapes of eroded groynes along the way.  Due to beach erosion, we scaled parts of the sand bank and walked along the fence line of MOD Bawdsey before reaching the Bawdsey Martello tower. We then made our way back, skimming a few stones en route before returning to the quay and stopping in at the Boathouse Café for delicious bowl of homemade soup. (Ok, I admit, we had cake too!)

For those customers staying in one of Suffolk Secrets' Woodbridge cottages or Bawdsey cottages, I thoroughly recommend that you discover this beautiful area!

FACT FILE

Bawdsey Radar, Bawdsey Manor, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3AZ
Open Days – from 12:30pm - 4.30pm:

Sunday 20th and Monday 21st April 2014
Sunday 4th, Monday 5th, Sunday 25th, Monday 26th May 2014
Sunday 15th June 2014
Sunday 20th July
Sunday 24th, Monday 25th August 2014.
Saturday 13th September
For more information phone: 07821162879

Foot Ferry Between Bawdsey Quay and Felixtowe Ferry
Timetable:

Easter until end of April - weekends only, 10.00am-5.00pm: 
May - end September - daily 10.00am-6pm.
For more information phone: 01394 282173.

Andrew Woodhouse

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Suffolk Secrets - The Finest Choice of Holiday Cottages