Day 312: Thorpeness to Orford

Distance: 20.42 miles

Ascent: 682 feet

Weather: SUnny Spells With Brief Rain Shower

Accommodation: The Curtis’ Home, Orford (Kindly offered)


I woke up annoyingly early again today which was not ideal as was quite tired so sleeping a bit more could have been useful. A bit after 7am Dick and I had a lovely breakfast of his homemade granola and I cooked some bacon and eggs. The forecast for today was good if a little windy and we were on our way just before 8, and Dick would be joining for the whole day with another friend joining later.

The first part of the day from Thorpeness was very simple along the beach to Aldeburgh. We passed Maggi Hambling’s Scallop sculpture on the beach, which to me seemed quite nice and inoffensive but has caused a lot of local controversy since its unveiling in 2003, somehow winning best public sculpture in Britain in 2006 and in another list part of the 6 worst public sculptures in Britain, the reality is it is neither terrible nor great and the controversy may say more about Aldeburgh than the statue.

Aldeburgh itself has some lovely old & new architecture and the old Moot Hall is beautiful one of the best surviving examples of a Tudor public building in the country. After Aldeburgh there is a sort of spit but I do not think it has public access so turned of at the edge of the spit up the River Alde, this would be the first of many rivers over the next few days which I would have to head a fair distance inland to cross. We joined the embankment and were treated to a slightly bizarre display by a kestrel which landed and then just sat in the grass and let us get within 10m before it took off.

After about 3 miles we had to join a road as both the embankment became private but also was damaged further on. This is actually where we joined my friend the bizarre Suffolk Coast Path which took a ‘lovely’ route for the next mile along the verge of busy road. It did finally turn off onto the Sailors Path which was lovely heading through a mix of woodland and across open farmland with a certain amount of autumnal colours around. Suddenly it rained which was unforecast but by the time I had waterproofed up it had already stopped. This path took us to Snape where we would be crossing the river and we met Priya (an old uni friend) at Snape Maltings just the other side of the river.

Snape Maltings took me by surprise it was vast, it appears to be a general cultural hub, with music halls, artists and all manner of things but for us it was useful as it had a little café and Dick very kindly treated all of us to lunch.

Fully nourished the 3 of us set off down the other side of the river and it was beautiful with boardwalks through the reed beds, embankments and even a little beach. Just shy of Iken we had to join the narrow country lane for a couple of kilometers before rejoining a public footpath which took us back onto the embankment which would take us the final 6 miles of the walk.

This final stretch was really nice with the sun slowly setting in front of us, the intriguing military structures on The Ness and even a couple of Marsh Harriers swooping by. We arrived at Orford and what a lovely little village which had all the amenities anyone could want. Dick and Priya would be leaving from here, and it had been a lovely day with both of them and thank you so much to them for joining.

After their taxi had left I was going in search of my kind hosts tonight’s in Orford who are parents of Duncan’s girlfriend whom I play fives with. Suddenly in a car park a man with a torch spotted me and it was Andrew who’s house I would be staying in. We walked the short distance to the house where Theresa was also waiting to greet me. They have a lovely house and cooked me a very nice dinner. I was quite tired this evening so retired to bed quite early.

A lovely day, with good company, good scenery, good weather and a bed to see me through this stormy conditions tonight.

charles compton