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Saturday, 12 October 2019

A Suffolk Saturday (Wickham Market to Aldeburgh)

SWC:  Wickham Market to Aldeburgh T=SWC.205

Distance:         14 miles or 22 .8km for those more metrically minded

Difficulty:        3 out of 10 

Transport:       Take the 8:00 AM Greater Anglia train bound for Diss from London Liverpool Street and change at Ipswich to a Lowestoft bound train (arrive 9:07; depart 9:17), arriving in Wickham Market at 9:43. I have picked the early train to provide plenty of time to enjoy the walk and explore Aldeburgh at the end before catching the last bus at 18:00; however, it would also be possible to catch the 9:00 AM train and get to Aldeburgh in time for the last bus – but you may be more pressed for time in Aldeburgh. Return requires a bus (number 64 – hourly on the hour) from Aldeburgh (Fort Green stop) to Saxmundham – the last one is at 18:00 – you will then catch the 18:57 train bound to Ipswich. 

Both these train stations are out of the SE Network…however, as of Monday night there were still advance tickets available for £13 each on the 8:00 AM outbound train and 18:57 return trains. Otherwise, you can buy a network day return to Manningtree PLUS an off-peak return from Manningtree to Saxmundham.

So, unfortunately, my original plan was scuppered because of a change in ferry time…which would have made the planned walk a bit of a long distance sprint to catch the last (and critical) ferry of the day…Fortunately, though, there is a sister walk in the same area with a little more flexibility in the schedule (shorter walk and later critical logistics)….which should hopefully prove a more relaxed exploration of the Suffolk coast, an area not frequented on many of our walks. This route starts in Wickham Market and will take us across Blaxhall Common and Suffolk heathlands (the Sandlings); then along an attractive section of the historic Sailor's Path following the River Alde estuary before reaching the Suffolk coast at Aldeburgh, formerly a fishing village – but now a fashionable resort and home of the Aldeburgh festival, a classical music festival ….More information about the walk can be found here (however, note -- this walk post includes the current bus information).

Lunch:  The recommended lunch pub is the Plough and Sail in Snape Maltings (7 miles/10km into the walk) – 01728 488 303/http://theploughandsailsnape.com/.

Tea: There are various refreshment options available in Aldeburgh, including its famous fish & chips, see the walk notes for details….but, keep an eye on the time.....

Enjoy the walk!

4 comments:

Mike P said...

It’s good to see this walk being revived – I think it was last walked 5 years ago so it is possible that more has changed than the bus times.

Car drivers should note that Wickham Market station is in Campsea Ash, nowhere near WM!

The early heath sections are pleasant enough, though the turning to the sandpit in Section 2 is easily missed. The real highlight is the Sailor’s Path from Snape Maltings. I’d recommend picnickers continue to the seat at the start of the path. It ends on the main road, but at least there is now a path along the edge of the golf course to the SW of the road (not the main golf course on the other side).

The turning off the main road was a bit of a building site when I researched the walk in 2012-14. The onward route crucially involved getting over a locked field gate which had a tangle of barbed wire, but as access to the gate from both directions was possible, it was hard to see why the gate itself should be out of bounds! The coast path beyond the gate is widely used though not a right of way.

Enjoy the walk and please report any essential updates. By the way, in addition to its big sister involving a ferry ride (WM to Felixstowe), it also has a little kid sister, Aldeburgh to Saxmundham.

Sean said...

Bring a hard hat if planning to eat on the beach at Aldeburgh. The gulls are equally keen on its renowned fish & chips and will swoop down viciously on unwary punters not guarding their food carefully.

Mike said...

Also, note that the route from Snape Maltings in the text is different from that marked on the map. I strongly recommend leaving the Sailors’ Path to take the route as described across Snape Warren. This is not marked on the OS map but there are regular marker posts on the ground and it is probably the best bit of the walk (if anyone is able to record it for GPS, that would be great). After all, the original sailors were just going home, they weren’t trying to make a good walk, any more than the first pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, the foot soldiers of Hadrian’s Wall or the posties of Achiltibuie.

Stargazer said...

In the words of Neil Young "I've been first and last"...the first and last SWC walker to arrive in Aldeburgh at the end of a delightfully varied walk (kudos to the writer). This is most definitely the most under posted walk for what it offers....fairly easy travel, nice variety (estuary, heath, woods, marsh, fields, seawall), great lunch pub and charming seaside resort (even on a soggy Saturday) flowing with Adnams (always a good thirst quencher)….although I posted an early train -- the walk can easily be done from the 9am train -- but may limit time for slower walkers to enjoy the amenities of Aldeburgh. The instructions are fine...I will put a few minor notes on the comments page (and have a track to upload)....though happy to say no climbing over barbed wire was required....Not being a fried fish affishianado, no comment on how the fish and chips compare to others....though did eat some outside without being attacked by seagulls (I did note on the seafront -- you can be fined up to 2500 pounds for feeding the beasts...) As a wrap, me, myself and I disembarked from the appointed train (some would argue for 3 -- but under official SWC accounting standards, I believe just n=1 in w=persistent-light-drizzle....conversation top notch....all world issues sorted....