Walking the Suffolk Coastal Path (well part of it)
For the past few weeks I’d spent a great deal of time discussing with the team here at Suffolk Secrets and one of my close friends attempting part of the Suffolk Coast Path. Weeks of planning, meticulous research and training had gone into this gargantuan task.
When Saturday arrived my friend travelled over from Bury St Edmunds and we started, what I thought would be a monumentous hike miles up the coast line to Southwold. We started from the car park at the often overlooked Sizewell beach. My wife and son dropped us off and I could see in her eyes she expected to be back soon. In fact I had visions of leaping enthusiastically out of her car, twisting my ankle in the car park and being rushed to the local minor injury unit. Fortunately for all involved and my ligaments this was avoided as I was extra careful stepping out of the vehicle.
Sizewell beach is a fantastic landscape with sandy dunes and a shoreline that turns from all shingle to golden sands depending on the tide. It is notorious locally for being a great spot to find washed up pieces of Amber, and early morning walkers are often seen bumping heads as they walk searching for, quite literally jewels in the sand.
Before setting off, we consulted the Suffolk Coast and Heaths information board and then made our way north past the front of the power station. The path is wide and easy going although my early enthusiasm meant that the first stage was almost a blur (sort of almost). The sea was calm and the breeze gentle and the sun’s rays glistened on the rippling water. A few small sailing boats were out but the coastline as far as we could see was completely deserted.
Fairly early on our walk (although my friend commented this was more like a march) we could see the large bird hides at RSPB Minsmere. As we got closer we could see and hear the huge amount of activity in the wetlands. It was truly spectacular to see Minsmere from this coastal viewpoint and to listen to the cacophony of noise being produced from what is one of the countries if not the world’s most important bird reserves.
After Minsmere we walked up onto the heath at Dunwich, the beautiful greens and purples from the gorse and heather contrasting with the blue of the sea made for many lovely pictures. Although we didn’t have time for this as I was enjoying the pace of my walk and also enjoying watching one of my oldest and tallest friends having to jog alongside me. I think I heard him mumble something about stopping at the Dunwich National Trust Café, but I was too focussed to stop for a cappuccino and we carried on with the promise of a pint along the way ringing in his ears.
Further along our journey we skirted around some of the ruins of Dunwich Abbey and there is a point on the route where you look over Dunwich cliffs at the sea below with the ruins behind you. It is a fabulous view and a real treat to enjoy. Quite soon after this you plonk down a small decline in the path to the Dunwich Ship Inn. We ordered two pints of Adnams Southwold bitter shandy and sat down outside for a well-deserved rest. Stage one complete. In my planning this would be our lunchtime stop. Five miles down and a break for lunch. However, we had been walking at such a pace (for two unfit men in their early thirties) that we had conquered the first part of the journey in an hour. I wondered why the barman looked at me slightly odd as I enquired about the scampi at 11:00 in the morning.
Written by George Bradley, General Manager of Suffolk Secrets