Bike ride from Eastbridge to Warblerswick via Dunwich

View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich
View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich

Even though rain was forecast we had booked bikes for 10:00 from The Eelsfoot at Eastbridge, which is a very nice pub to stay for the weekend. We left the house at 09:30 earlier than usual., which was good because the rain was forecast for 14:00. At the pub we picked the best bikes out and T lent us his pump to get the tyres nice and hard.

We headed off keeping to the tarmac road that leads to Minsmere RSPB then took a right at Scotts hall up a shortt slop then took the bridleway on the right which headed over to Dunwich heath. When we hit the road that leads to the Coastguard cottages we went left and headed toward the beach at Dunwich. At the cafe we had tea and coffee and T and I shared a doughnut that they make of the premises when the fryers are not doing fish and chips, which are the main fayre of the establishment. If you are ever in the area I would recommend stopping off for a lunch of fish and chips, I have been visiting the place for over 30 years.

Suitably refreshed we headed back in land then found another bridleway that eventually turns into a tarmac road called Lodge Road, which starts at a fantastic looking house over looking the marshes then over the sea.We soon found ourselves in Warberswick and met up with the rest of the party who had chosen the car for the days outing. We took a look at the harbour and the famous ferry across the river Blythe, 90p for people or bikes dogs go free. The we headed back to the center of the village where a tea room supplied us with a great lunch, I had a tuna mayonnaise baguette.

View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich
View of Coastguard cottages Dunwich

After lunch we decided on a different way back, we left Warblerswick and took a left turn along a bridleway, which eventually dumped us onto the marsh were conveniently there were board walks to make the cycling easier. Then we did a stretch of  sea wall which was new and nicely paved with two layers of different gravel. We left the sea wall and headed towards some trees which formed the only high spot around then we picked up a track that lead back to Dunwich, where we went towards the beach but headed up the hill past Greyfriars abbey ruins, then tracked back the route we had followed earlier, back to Eastbridge. The last 3 or 4 miles were done in the rain pub my poncho served me well and none of us got very wet, so once again we had made the most of the weather.

C cooked her tomato risotto with veggie sausages in it, which was very nice. A game of scrabble followed.

New year at the Eels Foot Inn

View from Eelsfoot Inn Eastbridge Suffolk
View from Eelsfoot Inn Eastbridge Suffolk

We are off to the Eels Foot pub in Eastbridge Suffolk for New Year. The plan was to spend three nights there and leave on News Years day. We left the house at a reasonable time and stopped off on route to visit my aunt. We arrived at Minsmere by 14:30 and did a quick route towards the wooded area and island mere before heading of to Adleburgh for a quick look round the shops.

We got to the pub at 17:30 and checked in, this time we were in room 3 on the first floor with a view over the pub garden. N&H arrived early evening and we had something to eat and caught up over a few beers.

We are up at a reasonable 08:30 for breakfast, then we headed out for a day on foot H had a bad tooth so we weren’t sure how far we would get,but we headed towards Dunwich heath, on the inland path because we had heard that the path to the sluice bushes was water logged and wellington boots were needed.

The Ship Inn Dunwich Suffolk
The Ship Inn Dunwich Suffolk

The weather was gorgeous and it was great to be out in the sun after the recent bad weather that had kept us indoors. The chip hut at Dunwich was shut for the winter so we went to the Ship Inn which was packed to the gunnels (did you see what I did there?) So we had to take a table in the garden which was not ideal on a sunny but cold and windy day. There was a queue at the bar, we got drinks and ordered for bowls of chips which considering how busy the pub was came fairly quickly.

After a rest we headed back towards coastguards cottages for a coffee then we headed through the reserve of Minsmere the through the reed beds to the Island Mere hide, by which time it was getting dark, and all you could see were the Moorhens  and Coots. The walk back from there to the pub was dark but even so we passed two or three sets of people walking the other way. We had another quiet evening in the pub.

The weather the next day promised to be wet and windy but when the day dawned the forecasts were good up until midday so rather than shopping we walked to Dunwich Heath and then back through the reserve, but where possible we tried to keep on different paths. We tried to get to the north east hide but the path was flooded and Wellingtons would have been needed, so we went to the north hide. There was not much to see other than the usual ducks. Helen thought she had seen a Smew and it was confirmed when we asked at the visitors centre. At the cafe we all had a coffee and something to eat, then we headed straight back as it was getting late and H&N wanted to pop to the Yoxford Antique centre, as it was not open on the 1st January.

Grey and windy North Sea view
Grey and windy North Sea view

New Years Eve in the pub started quiet, we hit the bar at 18:30 to ensure a table for something to eat, I suspected that I would not last till midnight. We had some more great pub grub, then chewed the cud for a few hours. I retired at 23:00 the others stayed till just after midnight. I did not get much sleep for a bit as our room was on the pub side of the building. There were fireworks at 00:00.

The next morning we had agreed with Julian the landlord to have breakfast at 09:30, as it happens he had been up since 07:30 and had not got to bed until 05:00, we did not envy him having to push on through, the pub was open all day and they expected it to be busy as the sun was out and it looked like it would be a great day weather wise.

Helen and I had to head off as we were meeting up with my brother and parents as we had not managed to get together over Christmas. The drive using the tourist route to Haverhill was great. We met up and swapped presents then Helen and I headed home.

We both agreed a pub is a great place to spend a few days at New Year especially the Eels Foot Inn in Eastbridge in Suffolk.

Eelsfoot Inn and Minsmere weekend.

The Lord Nelson, SouthwoldFirst I would like to thanks Steve for this post hes texted me to check if I was OK as he had not seen any posts for a while. Angela also gets a mention as she also mentioned the lack of new material. So spurred on by our fans here is a post for our weekend away at the Eels Foot Inn, yes another weekend at the excellent pub.

We left work on the dot and went back to base camp grabbed our luggage and set off to Hotel Baldwin where Kev n kids, had delayed thier departure so we could doa a quick “Say hello and wave good bye”. Mum made an excellent pasta dish despite having been eaten out of house and home.

We were up in good time as the cleaner were due at 09:00 and we had to get to the Lord Nelson by 12:00 to meet H&N, we had our doubts about them being thier by that time but we could not let them get there and us not be their. We decided to take a slight detour via Harleston (where we heard for N&H and yea they were running later than they anticipated) and then Denton to check out the grand parent grave. We did a quick tour of the shops in Harleston and had coffee and cake on the less busy back road that cirecles the main part of town.

We set off again and easily remembered the route to Denton, we we parked up at the church car park and without too much trouble found the head stone. I quickly took a set of panorama shots so watch this space for the results.
We left for the final leg of the journey, which was very pleasant as the weather was fantastic and the country side stunning. We arrived at Southwold around about 13:00 and went for a walk down to the pier as H&N were going to be another 30 minutres.

Beach Huts, SouthwoldThe high street and sea front were packed, it was the end of half-term and everyone seemed to be making the most of the weather. Down on the pier we had a quick look at the Down on the pier show http://www.underthepier.com/ which is a strange version of the traditional penny arcade and consists of machines to take your money but they are all somehow mechanic and brilliantly crass. Neil had a go on the frogger style game involing a zimmer frame crossing the road but the screen image came from a really camera pointing at a model road with moving lanes.

Met H & N at Lord Nelson, for a pint, and something to eat, I also paid for a T Shirt which they promised to post when new stock came in. Next on the agenda was some shopping. Both bookshops closed down and W H Smiths are moving in. N and I stood watching them replacing the wooden floor. Not very successful shopping trip but brought some heidi & cheese onion pies for lunch the next day. I took the opportunity to rtake another set of papnorama pictures, which when I get back to my own house will certainly post if worthy.

We left southwold and headed to The Eels Foot in it was late afternoon, lucky someone was around to let us have our room keys. We quicly settled in then walked a few hundred yards down the road to look at the field where the Barn Owls hunt. We were not let down, it is amazing how you can almost guarantee to see an owl as long as the weather is right. We saw at least two which at one point were both perched on the fence of the house on the bend.

Back to pub where N and Helen headed to the bat at 6pm in order to secure a table. Good job as 5 mins later they were all full. I joined them later and H was already there. Food was the usual fare I had fish n chips, and few pints of Adnams, wisely we were in bed by 10pm.

Desktop backgroundSat am – cloudy, misty. Excellent fry up with veggie sausages, muchrooms, toms n scambled eggs, with beans on toast and a sausage for Helen. We then performed an elaborate car shufffle where by we left my car at Warblerwick then headed back to the pub in N’s. The women watched the Grand Prix qualifying. When they returned, we headed out circa 10.45am, fortunately remembering the pies for lunch.

We walked towards Minsmere but then headed off through the woods behind the reserve. We were hoping that mushroom season would be at its high, however the dry weather seemed to have delayed their growth and there were not as many about as we had hoped, Helen got a few pics though. Excellent views of a goldcrest then turned right towards Dunwich Heath. Wallked past the pie bench of yester year. No sight of Dartford warblers on Dunwich Heath. Crossed the road then into the dark and into spooky pinewoods that lead to the Dunwich cliffs and priory remains. As ever I was determind to peer over the cliffs although H backed up wisely once the word overhang was mentioned. Followed the path down to Dunwich itself. Sun was shining by now so we voted for a quick pint at in the beer garden of The Ship pub (which, should you ever find yourself pieless in the vicinity, does good food).

Windmill in the reed bet at WarblerswickDown to Dunwich beach, where we ate the pies along with some chips from the cafe at the beach. A couple of brave swimmers. Discussion of choice of route for the next leg to Walberswick, where we plumped for the least populated option. So it was up the road past the church (passing several ladies with bodrums, the purpose of which we will never know). Headed up the stony track alongside Dunwich forest, overlooking the marshes. We saw excellent views of a goldcrest, and a jay and chaffinch enjoying the puddles. Past some rather lovely houses to a view over the march at Walberswick, where we saw lots of wildfowl. Through a gate onto the reserve itself and followed the raised path sea defence through the reedbeds back to Walberswick. Drove back to Eels Foot Inn for a rest I was soon aback out thpugh, back to the Barn Owl field, where I saw no less that 3 owls a marsh harrier and couple of unidentified waders flushed by the owls quartering the fields. What a a great spectacle for early Saturday evening, far better than Strickly!

N and Helen headed off to try to make sure we got a table, whilst I had a shower. They were lucky to get a table as the pub was very busy with a couple of large parties but as usual service and food were good. Neil & N had veggie lasagne. A few pints/glasses were drunk, and we ended up chatting to a friendly chap who had a Scottie dog, and who was a frequest visitor to the area, in between climbing the hills and mountains of Britain (including camping in the snowy Lake District last winter!). One last drink and some bemused observation of the rather drunk party who were drinking Zambuca (rather them than us!). Then off to bed and remembered to put the clock back too.

Up for another excellent breakfast at 8.30am, a bit of a record in that none of the party were suffering from hangovers. We must be getting older & wiser 🙂 Watched the start of the Grand Prix then off to Minsmere for another walk. There is a great deal of development happening at Minsmere, on the Visitor Centre, North Wall & sea defences. Off through the woods to the edge of Dunwich Heath. Fleeting glimpses of a bird we would have loved to have been a Dartford Warbler however we just did not see enough of it to be sure. Saw an optimistic mushroomer but he only had one in his basket.

Across the heath sighting a large group of deer grazing in the heather, then a coffee stop at Lighthousekeepers cottages. It was getting a bit chillier with the sea breeze. Another brave swimmer who then proceeded to disrobe entirely. We peered stalwartly at the sea until he had had a chance to gather himself together and then a trudge across the shingle towards east Hide. Saw a small flock of greenfinch and cormorants en route. Hide was busy but we did not have to wait too long for a window seat. Lots of wildfowl and black-tailed godwit, a couple of Berwick swans and three avocet. Then on to sluice bushes. Saw a robin and heard a wren, but no rare warblers unfortunately! Then back towards the visitor centre, admiring a ruff, redshank and little egret on the way.

We had some lunch at the visitor centre and spotted an unexpected treecreeper near the cafe. Then becauses we had’nt eaten our own bodyweight this weekend, thought we should probably have a cake, purely in the interests of supporting the RSPB you understand. Then it was, sadly, farewell to H&N and homeward bound down the very lovely A12, M25 & A41.

Coat on coat off, coat on coat off

Heather and trees
Heather and trees

After a very pleasant evening in the Eel’s Foot with a few pints and an enjoyable chat with a couple from Cambridge whom we happened to sit next to, we were again up early for the Eels Foot fry up.  Unfortunately no vegetarian sausages but lots of toast so very well fuelled as we checked out and headed off to Minsmere.  The choice for today’s amble had been subject to much discussion, but decided we could not do better than simply do a circular route centring on Minsmere safe in the knowledge that a coffee and excellent cake could be assured at the end of our walk.

We parked at the visitor centre and grabbed a “what’s about” to get a heads up of what we should be keeping an eye out for.  Not many people about yet and we headed off through the woods and soon came across a tit flock in an oak tree, which included two treecreepers, a greated spotted woodpecker, great & long tailed tits.  We stopped at Bittern hide, unfortunately not repeating Neils success on Saturday but saw good views of a little grebe and chick.  Continued to Island Mere where we saw a bar head goose, which is one of thos e “does what it says on the tin” birds, i.e. is a goose with striped bars on it’s head.  Usefully.

Coastguard cottages Dunwich
Coastguard cottages Dunwich

We pottered on in the sunshine, so coats off, crossing the road at Scotts Hall where a berry laden treee held tantilising views of, as ever, unidentified warblers.  The down the bridleway towards Dunwich Heath.  The mushrooms has started to appear and Neil got a few photos and the chance to try out his fish eye lens.  Another tit flock but could’nt spot the accompanying goldcrest that could be heard and more flipping mystery warblers!  Reached the Heath where is was getting a bit busier as the sun drew people out but we took to long way round and managed to secure the seat at the centre of the heath in another unsuccessful attempt to spot Dartford warbler.  It’s a bit worrying after we did not see any yesterday

and hope that is just us getting there at the wrong time rather than the after effects of a tough winter for them.  We did manage to see the stone chat so that and a cheese toastie at Lighthouse cottages was some compensation.

Refuelled we went down to the sea where, despite there being a chilly wind there were several swimmers.  We called in at East Hide to see the sanderling, black tailed godwit, avocets and wildfowl and walked on round the reserve.  We reached on point where several birders were starring intently at a bush at a ……..wheatear! A lovely looking bird but we anticipated a mega from the number of watchers.  Neil whispered he initially though it must be some special sort of wheatear.  Sun came out so Neil took his coat off, then of course it went back in again.  The BBC should use his coat wearing a some sort of weather prediction method.

Carrot cake, yummmm
Carrot cake, yummmm

Then lastly we popped into West Hide where it was surprisingly quiet after yesterday, until we spotted the sparrowhawk perched on one island which explained the rest of the birds shuffling quietly away on titpoe.  We saw a distant greenhank and another avocet.  The back to the visitor centre  for coffee and cake and some light shopping (me) before heading back Chiltern-wards at 3.00pm.

A perfect day

We were in bed early last night, and I woke up about 06:30, by 7 I had had enough so I got up and went down to island mere hide. I parked near Scots Hall (not sure is that is allowed!) and walked into the reed beds. No one else was in the hide, the mere was quite full of water after the recent rain, and there were not many birds about. Geese were flying in and out in formation, and I spotted a juvenile Marsh Harrier. I had not bothered getting the scope out but then spotted a Bittern on the far side, by the time I got it set up the bird had gone.

Ragwort
Ragwort

Soon after I spotted another one further along this time I had the benefit of the scope, it was at the edge of the reeds looking up in the classic pose, then it barked and flew along the reeds and dropped out of site. Just before I left I spotted another one.

Breakfast was as usual great but they did not have veggie sausages but they promised some for tomorrow. After breakfast we sorted out our gear and headed in land along the Minsmere river.

The we then did a second side of a triangular route across Westleton heath where the Heather was in full bloom very purple and very fragrant. There were two distinct colours one very vibrant purple the other more pastel in colour. It was still early’ish and we had the place almost to our selves and the weather was getting warmer and sunnier.

Number 98
Number 98

By the time we got to Dunwich church we had not had a break so we sat on the bench and had half a snack bar each. After a nice rest we walked up the village high street and down to the fish and chip shop over looking Dingle marsh and the car park. Helen had veggie burger and because she said it is the law that if they are offered they have to be taken in case the proprietor thinks demand has dropped. It turns out that the burgers were deep fried vegetable fritters and there was no bun! I ended up having one of them.

Once Helen was tired of the wasps we went over to the beach where there were a few swimmers bracing the North Sea temperatures. After some time relaxing on the beach we headed back up the hill towards the light house cottages.

Just past Grey Friars we heard a great but distant thunder clap. To our west there was a very big and dark anvil shaped cloud, and it was heading our direction. Soon after it started to rain, but as soon as we had unpacked the poncho and got it on the rain had stopped. The storm was heading past just to the north of us, we surmised that if we had stayed much longer at Dunwich we would have got soaked the storm continued to flash and rumble for the next half an hour. We found a bench on Dunwich heath and looked for Dartford warblers, but apart from stonechats and wood pigeons we were out of luck. There was a brief flash of grey at one point but not good enough to get an id of any bird.

Hail stones
Hail stones

At coast guard cottages we had coffee and shared a cake, then a bit of sea watching and a pee. We then headed down to the beach and on to the main part of Minsmere RSPB reserve. The storm was heading away out to sea but you could still see lightning and hear thunder. Over towards Eastbriddge we could see some more dark clouds so we got a speed on, the plan was to go to a hide for a while before heading back. We just about made the hide before it started raining trouble was the hide looked out over scrapes but hey were empty because the Terns that would normalhangout there had left for sunnier clims, so I put on my poncho and Helen her rain gear and we walked back towards Mere hide in the hope of seeing another Bittern.

The rain did not last long and the sun came out the light was warm and brilliant for taking photos, so I did! Not muchaction going on in the hide, which was deserted. We got a few more ticks that had evaded us earlier in the day (Tufted, Great-Crested Grebe, and Little Grebe), but no Bittern in site. Later a man turned up with  a 500mm f2.8 Canon lens (£5,000) hoping to get a Bittern fly by, if he got one the light was perfect. Feet suitabkly rested we left the hide for the final push back to the hide it was already 17:30 and I reckoned it would take 30minutes to get back to the pub, Helen reckoned longer 40minutes.

Storm over abbey
Storm over abbey

Rather than take the road back we turned away from The Eels Foot and walkked past Sotts Hall and joined the bridleway that runs parallel. We were both knackered and Helen needed a fruit bar to avoid a trough, 35 minutes later we were at the last corner before the pub, so I guess Helen was right about the time it would take to get back.

All day we had failed to find a Tit flock but just as we got back to the river Minsmere we spotted one so Blue Tit and Long-tailed wer added tothe day list. Then I spotted a Treecreeper it was really close and hunting insects on the small branches, the view was fantastic. Suitably rewarded we headed back to the pub it had taken 40 minutes!

We had walked about 12-13 miles and been out for just short of 9 hours which is  probably a record for us. We quickly freshened up and heaed to the bar for a well earned pint and some pub food, the end of a perfect day.

Walk in the rain

Snow drops
Snow drops

We were up for breakfast at 09:00, but lingered because the weather did not look promising. We left the pub at about 10:00 and dumped my car at Warblerswick the plan was to walk back to the pub, via Dunwich, the heath and Minsmere. After a short beach section we headed in land across the marshes and reed beds, toward the disused windmill. It was grey, not too cold, and not raining we were out in the fresh air so we were happy.

When we got to the windmill we found that the footpath was closed and fenced off, we decided we would do what other people had done and carry on regardless, we had walked all that way and we had not had any warnings that might have made us take an alternative route. The half made p[ath was very muddy as it had been laid with grey clay from the marsh, then there was  a section with gravel which was like walking on a beach, but it soon passed and we were heading past Dingle Great Hill (all of 12 feet in elevation!). We walked throught the woods overlooking Dingle Marsh and saw seom lovely isolated houses and soon entered the village of Dunwich a lot of which is now under the sea.

Hats drying in front of pub fire
Hats drying in front of pub fire

The planned stop at the fish and chip place was cancelled because it was closed, from November to March, it was also raining and there was no shelter. We ended up in the The Ship Inn for lunch rather that having the Heidi Pies we had bought in Southwold the day before. I had some shell on prawns, and the others had goat cheese toasties which looked really nice. We had to eventually drag our selves out of the pub and into the rain.

We headed up the hill then eventually over and onto Dunwich Heath where we were hoping to see Dartford Warblers, but there were to remain elusive. It had started to rain so we stopped off at the NT Coastgaurd Cottages for tea and cakes. Whilst we were in the cafe it stopped raining but it soon started again as we headed down off the heath to Minsmere, and the south hide.

During the whole walk we had not really seen a soul and the south hide was no exception, we had  the place to oursleves it was a welcome break from the rain. There was not much to see as it was a bit early in the year, but we managed to identify a Med Gull and a Little gull. We woke Helen up and set off back to the pub via the sluices, just as we turned in land at the sluices it started to really rain, so mush so that I had to get the poncho out. We walked the last mile or so in the pouring rain, but still managed to add Barnacle goose to the weekend list. As we go back to the pub the rain stopped, Nik and I went off to pick up the car and the Helen’s went off to see if they could see the barns owls.

In the way back to the car we came across quite a few Muntjac in our headlights. We picked up the car went back to the pub, watched the remaining half of England thrashing France at rugby and then headed to the bar for something to eat and drink. Another great day despite the weather.