You’ll never walk alone… part one

2014-08-05 09.04.11

the Lawyer and the Beautician as we set off

Walk on, through the wind
Walk on, through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone
You’ll never walk alone

So sung Gerry and the Pacemakers and countless hoards of Liverpool FC supporters and so thought I as I looked at the weather forecast for day two of Suffolk 60. Still to quote from another famous song, not, so far as I know, a  favourite of the Kop, ‘Let’s start at the very beginning’.

Day one the Lawyer and I set out from Lowestoft on this little challenge, the slightly misnamed Suffolk 60 the coastal path (it’s about 57 miles and, as you’ll see doesn’t hug the coast) with the Beautician and the Dog for company. The weather was glorious and the beaches utterly empty, despite it being high season and cloudless. Either not so many people are on ‘staycations’ as the papers suggest or it was too early. Hopefully the latter.

Lowestoft is the sort of seaside resort that feels like it has fallen between two stools. Part throwback to saucy postcards, kiss me quick hats and candyfloss, partly modern holiday resort for the family on a budget. Nothing exemplifies this more than the amusement arcade with modern computer murder games for the under tens alongside air tables and their slidy round discs and grab-a-toy machines.

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Church outside Lowestoft

2014-08-05 09.15.00

sleeping it off?

2014-08-05 09.33.50

oh dear…

The front soon gives way to Victorian houses and then modern boxes. Finally after a wiggle a lovely church appeared (together with sleeping resident) and a line of chalets. It took a good two miles for the run of buildings to end and just as it did, the route went due west inland. Come again? Ahead was a perfectly good path, with no sign of erosion yet we detoured into another group of chalets and permanent caravans and then a drive thru MacDonalds. Ok so we grabbed a cuppa but that’s not the point.  Point to note for all those who scoff at Maccy Dees; they do a very acceptable latte or cappuccino for a reasonable price. If you feel the need for a hit and all there is is a MDs then don’t despair.

It got worse; the route went alongside the A12 for a while. Why? This was hardly coast line.

Eventually we were directed2014-08-05 09.56.49 back to the sea at Kessingland, past yet another permanent caravan park. We passed Pontins on route offering us a Wedding from £699. Blimey. At a distance it looked nicely trimmed and tidy, not the awful sheds of old.

2014-08-05 10.56.43

back inland

Of course having got my wish, back alongside the sea the path then diverted to the beach and the soft sand and slidy shingle. Much more of this and we’d take a week to do the walk. Happily it lasted as long as the chalets of Kessingland, small, tidy and well maintained. Still, stuck on a cliff they must worry about the erosion and longshore drift  which is taking large chunks of the east coast and dumping them further down. Sometimes you see a picture of a house within feet of a cliff, its owner devastated to have to move. Today the houses are demolished before they collapse but as a child, on holiday in North Kent I remember seeing buildings hanging over the edge. I suppose it makes sense to take away the risk but you do lose that childlike thrill of watching something so solid disappear. Not much fun for the owner of course.

Again, no sooner had we left the hosues behind than the path made off to the west and inland. This time, I suppose I understood as the cliff was hard by the beach and it was clear, with the tide in, walking along the shoreline could be difficult. Still it was a shame because it meant we missed the ruined church at Covehithe  which is worth a peek.

2014-08-05 11.57.29

Is that left or right?

Despite the glorious weather and the good pace, I was getting a mite cheesed off with the amount of road waking we were doing. So, being the boy scout that I still am and studying the OS map (oh how I like paper, which is just as well because hereabouts the signal for sat nav is crap) I took the route into my own hands. Which meant we lost a mile or two and eventually we had to take our lives in our hands a little on the old Lowestoft road to cross the marshes (it was only half a mile or so). But it was a lot better than the official route.

2014-08-05 13.01.10

inland isn’t soooo bad

One other complaint I have while I think about it and it is not uncommon. Now I’m a bit geeky with maps so am pretty confident I know the way anyway but often we would reach the point where I knew we had to turn or whatever and there was no sign, not even a hint. We’d set off the way I directed and, lo!, there was the sign, like a  prize for guessing right. Why do they do that?

Inland we followed green lanes and bridleways and footpaths, skirting maize and potatoes and barley as well as a oink or two of pigs. Pigs are big around here; Blythburgh pork have 10,000 pigs (source: the Vet) and while there can be acres covered by huts and troughs they seem to have a decent amount of space so as not to make a mockery of the notion of ‘free range’.

2014-08-05 12.12.44

maize

 

2014-08-05 11.08.54

potatoes

2014-08-05 11.43.40

piggies

 

 

2014-08-05 13.14.41

lunch in Southwold

We reached Reydon, north of Southwold and then Southwold proper for a lunch stop. Now, here I should confess to a small crime; it was the Textiliste’s birthday. We abandoned her. No, that’s not true. We had her drop us at the start and collect us at the end and then we abandoned her. She didn’t seem to mind, set as she was on having some me-time and we did meet up for a decent if rather speedy lunch.

Southwold is a contrast to Lowestoft. It is unashamedly a throwback and doesn’t try and pretend it is modern and it works. The shops and cafes are a delight and the beach (despite the Stasi-like insistence of barring dogs – look I don’t mind barring other people’s but Dog deserves a special licence or what have you) is just the right amount of sand and shingle. It has dunes and fresh fish and… well, all I want anyway (so long as it isn’t a beach hut – they retail at something ridiculous like £50,000 or more – I mean, they are just a shed for Pete’s sake).

2014-08-05 14.38.00

Southwold harbour

Beyond Southwold your cross the river Blyth – by now the Beautician and Dog had joined the Textiliste – and the Lawyer and I debated ferry versus bridge. He won, we did the bridge (the official route ) and an extra mile.

On the far side is Walberswick, home to a bunch of luvvies and where Gordon Brown holidayed once, during the financial crisis (and didn’t the Daily Mail give him a  hard time – well a harder time than usual).

2014-08-05 15.23.34

The reed beds south of Walberswick and a disused windpump

From Walberswick, the conditions change. We enter the marshes and the reed beds. The Dunwich river runs close to the coast and creates an odd and unique environment. It is peaceful, in amongst the reeds, whispering as we passed. If the Lawyer hadn’t decided about then to compose a rap to the Vet and mumble it out loud it might have been perfect. A mile on and we entered the start of Dunwich woods. Dunwich was once a significant port but the changing coast line and the silting of the harbour ended those glory days. In the erosion that followed its ancient churches were swept away and local legend has it that occasionally you can hear the bells tolling under the sea.

st james church dunwich

Dunwich Church

Behind the remaining church (St James) is the remains of a leper hospital from medieval times. Hard to believe we once had leprosy in England.

Quite honestly by now I’d had my fill. However our end point was the National Trust tea rooms at the Coastguards cottages at Dunwich heath, above Minsmere bird reserve. Tea and cake were calling so on we plodded and we were treated to a fantastic sight of the purple heather in full blast. When nature gets her gaudy clothes on she can be fabulous.

And so ended day one. The app on the Lawyer iPhone said 40,840 steps. We thought about 18 miles. Plenty.

2014-08-04 15.06.54

Dunwich Heather

 

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in miscellany, natural history, suffolk, walking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to You’ll never walk alone… part one

  1. Sohrab says:

    Fabulous account of a splendid walk Geoff. Sounds great and really good photos too.

    Don’t the Beautician and the Lawyer look stunning?

    Maybe Milo should be the Shepherd as he likes to keep everyone together!

    Agree Southwold us an English Seaside Delight

    Sohrab

    Like

  2. Dylan Hearn says:

    Maize, potatoes and pigs; you just needed to see sugar beet, wheat & apples and you have the full Suffolk set 🙂 A really great post on the first part of your walk and I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

    Like

  3. Archaeologist says:

    And do remember, if you happen to find an ancient whistle sticking out of the ground -DON’T BLOW IT!

    Like

  4. restlessjo says:

    Made me smile, Geoff 🙂 I made it to Lowestoft once, a long time ago. I seldom venture that far these days but I do have Polish family in North Walsham, and occasionally get to the Broads. It’s a lovely part of the world (though I’m not big on pigs) 🙂 Many thanks for joining me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I’m glad; I’ve been posting since last April and have several other posts on walking: in London (where I live – these are both general and themed: i.e. Shakespeare’s London, street art and so on), Suffolk (where I visit regularly) the Thames Path (which I’m walking in stages with friends) Scotland (which I love to visit) and New Zealand (where I went with my son before Christmas and did a few tramps (as they call them out there). So plenty to include if that works for you…

      Like

  5. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : as promised, Portimão | restlessjo

  6. Heyjude says:

    Phew! I need a rest after this walk!! I have to agree that a coastal walk should be alongside the coast. All that road walking would turn me off, but I am glad you carried on. I’d love to read more of your walks (and tramps…) so please link them to Jo’s Walks so I can join you 🙂

    Jude xx (a staunch supporter of Jo’s Walks)

    Liked by 1 person

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