I was determined to get at least another walking day within the month of May and so decided to do a one day trip in Suffolk. At 210 miles each way, it was not a short trip although the walk was. Public transport in Suffolk is not ideal and while certain areas have excellent links, others not so much. No such problems between Lowestoft and Southwold though. So I drove to and parked in the large free car park in Southwold.
I caught the #99 bus to Lowestoft and started walking from the bus station down the High Street towards the bridge over Lake Lothing. The sun for most part was hidden behind scattered clouds, although it remained quite warm. Near the East Point Pavilion I picked up the start/end of the Suffolk Coastal Path, a 57 mile trail between Lowestoft and Felixstowe. I also noticed a large group of runners gathering at the South Pier. This was indeed the start point of the Lowestoft Parkrun, a weekly race/run/jog over a 5km course along the promenade. It appeared to be a popular event, as checking previous entrant numbers, there are usually 350 – 500 runners taking part. As the start time was 09:00 I would be well beyond their finish line.
I continued on past the end of the promenade along a well-constructed path. There was still an excellent beach with inviting sands, but I knew it would be torture walking through/along that. The cliff top path ended close to a holiday park and I was forced to descend to the beach. The Suffolk Coastal Path had taken one of its many excursions inland, which I ignored.
I had checked on the tides in the area and knew I had about 4 – 5 hours before high tide. I got down right to the water’s edge and it was here I found the ‘sweet spot’ – a narrow corridor of firm level sand between the lapping waves and the soft sand and shingle to my right. This ‘sweet spot’ would continue virtually the whole way to Southwold. I had read conflicting accounts on various sites about paths being washed away and I had initially resigned myself to walking slightly inland using footpaths and some roads. However, 2km after passing the large village of Kessingland I decided I would see how far I got along the coast. Although, devoid of public footpaths, a path was marked on an Info Board at the Benacre National Nature Reserve and a fellow coastal walker, Jon Combe, had walked this way before, albeit 10 years ago.
I transferred onto the top of the small clifftops, where I found a footpath between a field of crops and a crumbling cliff edge. I wanted to see what lay ahead and could now see Southwold Pier far in the distance. I could also see a safe gap between the sea and cliff base, which meant I could complete well before High Tide.
I descended to the beach separating Benacre Broad from the sea and met a lady bird watcher. I regained the cliff top and found a well-trodden path along the top. My eye was drawn to the remains of a crumbling ruined church, St Andrews at Covehithe, which dominated the view west. I could and should perhaps have made the short journey inland to take a closer look at the church. But I was aware that “time and tide wait for no man” and I wanted to make sure I could get to Southwold along the coast.
I continued south from Covehithe, along the cliff top and another well-trodden path through crops. The cliff top slowly dropped down to beach level at Easton Marshes and I again picked up a good walking line along the shoreline, where I stayed all the way to Southwold. I could also make out the Lighthouse at Southwold, with its light on and the lens rotation every 8 seconds…well I had nothing else better to do! Interestingly, the light was not visible when I reached Southwold, probably because I was below its beam and it was still day time.
I had become aware of Southwold when I first started drinking Adnams Beer and had always wanted to visit this small coastal town in Suffolk. I was not disappointed. Southwold is a lovely little charming town, with very close links with Adnams, in fact the brewery has multiple buildings in and around the town. In fact the font used in the Adnams signage is prevalent everywhere, but not in bad or commercial way. The whole place had a nice feeling about it. It is somewhere I would like to re-visit. The inevitable call-in to the Adnams shop meant a lightening of my wallet and I came away £56 the poorer.
Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance = 4,874 miles