Day 316: Felixstowe to Shotley Gate

Distance: 22.24 miles

Ascent: 1373 feet

Weather: Sunny

Accommodation: The Burge’s house (Kindly offered)


I had half suspected last night that I may be coming down with something and when I woke up this morning it was clear I was not in tip top condition. My throat was not in a great shape, and I felt just generally a bit under the weather. I was not so bad that I wouldn’t be walking, so I decided not to wallow and just get on with it. I had breakfast and then Nicky very kindly dropped me back to the promenade at Felixstowe not long after 7:20.

I was on my way and would actually be passing very near Nicky’s house again in about 2 hours so would meet up with her and her sister then by the river for a coffee. The start of the day took me behind the Port of Felixstowe, this is absolutely vast, far bigger than any container port I have passed on the walk. I followed the roads around it and at the railway I needed to cross over to reach the footpath on the other side (this was a very busy section with lots of slow moving container carriages.) There was a container train on the track at this moment so I had to wait for it to move before the gate (which had an electromagnetic lock on it) could be open. After the container train had moved, I tried the gate and it still wouldn’t move. After a minute or so I picked up the phone for contacting the signal man, and he said that now there would be one more engine coming and then he would turn the lights red so he could open the gate for me. It had felt weird calling the signal man but as he said one engine crossed and then the gate could be opened and the other approaching train stopped shy of the crossing allowing me across.

Once on the other side the path climbed up a small hill giving views over the whole port, and the amount and size of the cranes is incredible. The path eventually reached the end of the port and then joined the sea embankment. The sun was out with barely a cloud in the sky and the next 3 miles or so up to the marina were lovely scenery, though I was feeling quite lethargic and more achy than normal.

I bumped into Nicky and her sister just shy of the marina and then just after the marina we reached a bench and we stopped for a little break and had the thermos of coffee. They had been incredibly kind putting me up, and feeding me and I knew Nicky was trying to contact people all over Suffolk to put me up. I said goodbye and was on my way.

The Stour and Orwell path followed the river for about another 2 miles, before it turned off. As it was low tide I decided to try and follow the river directly instead. The first bit was harder than I expected and the mud was right on the limit of too deep, so I headed onto the edge of the land just of the foreshore and in the trees I found an actual little path and when this rejoined the beach it wasn’t to muddy so I could follow the foreshore and path all the way to the Orwell Bridge. I had actually began to feel a bit better along this stretch.

The Orwell Bridge is a utilitarian bit of design, but its proportions actually make it quite attractive. The issue for me is it is far up in the air and I was down at river level, so I found the stairs and began climbing up and was more exhausted at the top than I should have been. The pavement part was not overly wide and with HGV’s whizzing by it didn’t make for great walking but the views were stunning.

I dropped down on the other side and passed the Suffolk Food Hall a sort of posh local food hall, café and restaurant. I didn’t need any food but got a small tub of ice cream to have with my picnic as I thought it may make my throat feel a bit better.

The path actually diverts inland here a bit but I decided to follow a mixture of foreshore (though tide put a stop to this) and the land next to it with a couple of little diversions around buildings. I was actually beginning to feel quite weak, I am not sure what I have but it was making me very lethargic and achy not just due to the walking. I had about 3 miles to Pinmill and was considering stopping there as wasn’t sure I would make the final 5 miles from there to Shotley Gate.

At Pinmill there was a pub and I decided to sit with a pint of coke in front of the fire and make up my mind whether I should/could carry on today. In the end I decided as the weather was good and due to Nicky’s calls I now had accommodation near Shotley Gate I should carry on.

This final 5 miles were mainly along embankments and I actually passed the Mayhew’s house on the other side of the river and they waved but for some reason I couldn’t see them. The giant cranes of Felixstowe Port looked even more incredible from this side and there were I think 5 giant ships being loaded as I walked by.

I reached Shotley Gate and Jo kindly collected me and took me the short distance to his house. He cooked a lovely dinner, and I decided to head to bed early in the hope that I would wake up better tomorrow.

An incredibly scenic day with great weather, but due to whatever moderate illness I had a tough day. I am sure that lots of people have little illnesses at this time of year and up till now I have been lucky to remain fairly healthy on the walk.

charles compton