Springwatch pub to springwatch pub and back

Violet Edged Ground Beetle
Violet Edged Ground Beetle

The Eelsfoot is where the 2014 Springwatch crew stayed as it is close to Minsmere RSPB, the presenters stayed at the Ship Inn at Dunwich, which was apparently to keep them apart after having worked together all day. today we set out to prove that it is not far enough by walking from the Eelsfoot to the Ship Inn and back again.

We headed off at 0930 there was a bit of a chill in the air and a jumper was necessary. We headed towards Minsmere but then headed off the road up the track that goes past Hangmans New Wood, which was a mistake which we figured out later when we got back. We were hoping to the take the path that leads to Saunders’ Hill and then cross the road at Scott’s Hall Farm but we ended up heading towards Westleton so had to veer off before we got there. Then we found that the “open access” area was closed, so we had to walk to Scott’s Hall Farm anyway, not a great navigational start to the walk we have done quite a few times!

We started across Westleton walks and came across a guy watching a Tit flock, the usual suspects were present Great/Blue/Coal/Marsh/Long-tailed tits and for a bonus we spotted Treecreeper and an almost certain Goldcrest. The weather was starting to get quite warm I had to take the jumper off. We carried on passing Grey friars, then the Friary at Dunwich and finally the chip huts down at the beach. My grand mother thought it was the best fish and chips in the world and I got taken there more than a few times when I was at school. We had coffee and shared a bowl of the chips. I’m not sure they were as good as I remember but a welcome snack all the same.

Coast Guard Cottages
Coast Guard Cottages

Sat on the beach in the sun for a while the walk was a long one so we wanted to take our time. We shared a Snickers bar for an energy burst then headed back up the hill destination the National Trust Coastguard cottages for coffee and cake. Once on Dunwich Heath we scanned the heather for Dartford Warbler but although we had fleeting glimpses I would not add the to the holiday list. We did get great views of a Wheatear but they have a habit of sitting on on prominent perches and their sand colour makes then easy to spot.

I had coffee and a very nice apricot and almond cake, and Helen had hot chocolate and cheese scone. I took a panorama set and managed to get the same bloke in the pictures who was in the one I did at the chip hut he probably thought I was stalking him. We headed down to the North wall at Minsmere and noticed that a twitch was happening in the field to the west of the north bushes, we theorised that it would be for a Wryneck and we were not wrong. We stood around for about 10 minutes but being impatient birders we soon got bored and moved on to the visitor centre for a quick fruit juice before the final push back to the pub via the Island Mere hide, where we hoped for a final chance to see Bearded Tits.

Early  mushroom
Early mushroom

We had quite sore feet and were quite tired by this point we had probably walked about 8 miles and had another two to go. There were quite a few people in the island mere hide, but we found a seat each at the new windows, which seem to have replace the traditional lift up windows you find in most older hides. We saw a marsh harrier and some ducks in the distance, then a kingfisher was hovering but the Bearded Tits were elusive as the dartford warblers, although a lady nearby claimed she had seen some but despite scanning the area she pointed out we dipped out.

Rather than taking the direct route back to the Eelsfoot along the reserve approach road, we climbed the hill to Scott’s Hall Farm so that we could take the cross country route which is a much more pleasant walk and you don’t have to give way to cars every minute as they leave the reserve. Doing the route that way round enabled us to understand where we went wrong on the way out in the morning, we had left the reserve road too early.

Back at the pub we freshened up and relaxed for and hour then enjoyed Sea Bass and chips and Goats cheese salad. All washed down with the obligatory Adnams bitter. After a long day on foot we retired early to bed.

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.

Final day in Suffolk

On the beach
On the beach

We woke up to a glorious but cold morning, with some regrets at having booked breakfast for 08:30, perhaps in future we should go for 08:30 on the Saturday and 09:00 on the Sunday? Break fast was up to the usual standard. We had the bill sorted by 10:00 and headed over to Minsmere for a short walk before heading back home.

All the sun was shinning there had been a deep frost and add to that the wind meant that it was quite bitter out. Accordingly we decided to keep the woods and avoid getting too near the sea or other exposed places. We headed out of the reserve to catch the footpath that leads to Dunwich Heath in the hope that the sun may have tempted the Dartford Warblers out. There was not much movement about and we did not hold much hope, but we did decide to give them one last go by standing still and scanning the heather. Helen could hear some calls and did once see a bird hovering but no concrete evidence. Just as I had decided in my mind that we were not going to see one, I saw a bird fly out from a heather plant. I quickly god my binoculars onto it. It was sat right on top of a low gorse, although distant the views were cracking as the sun was just in the right direction relative to our position.

By the time the bird disappear again (5 minutes later) we decided that a celebratory beverage was in order, and with NT Tea room within sight we soon had that sorted. Whilst there we did have a quick look from the sea watch room at the Red Throated divers. Suitably refreshed we headed down to Minsmere Helen and I set off home, and H&N went round to the South hides for a look before they set off.

Eight Goldcrests and three treecreepers

Snowdrops
Snowdrops

We went for the earliest breakfast 08:30, as tghe weather forecast suggested that the best weather would be at the start of the day. The delicious veggie fry up was up to the usual standard. We were ready to leave by 09:30, the plan was to dump a car at Blythburgh and the other at Dunwich Heath NT car park, then walk from Dunwich to the first dropped off car.

We had wrapped up quite well beacuse the weather man said it would be a cold wind, but were soon taking layers off. in the mixed wood towards the friary we cam across a flock of several Gold crests and at least 3 Treecreepers, quite an unusual count. We headed on towards Dunwich car park checking out the snow drops which were in bloom everywhere. H was fascinatedby them and stopped regulalry to look at the inner petals. Some were quite sparse and others had layers of smaller petals almost rose like inside the outer petals which is the part you usually see. We all agreed that the more simple ones were more attractive.

At Dunwich car park the chip hut was closed so we went Ship Inn for coffee and crisps. The firewas on so we removed more layers. We took over one end of the pub with all our gear, luckily there were few other people in the bar. Suitably refreshed we headed out towards wood that overlooks Dingle marsh then Warblerswick marsh. There are some lovely remote properties at the far end of the wood.

We crossed the marshes and then ended up at Warblerswick village near the shops. There was a hint of rain in the but luckily there were some sheltered seats where we could have lunch. The Heidi pies were up to the usual standard but my alliegance has now changed and now the cheese potatoe cream and garlic ones are my favorite. In case you were wondering the puiesare made by Pieminister www.pieminister.co.uk

On the beach
On the beach

Suitably refreshed again, we headed out of Warblerwick in the direction of Blythburgh, we were more out in the open on the heath and in addition the wind was against us. The path then headed into a Pine wood which was a welcome relief from the wind. Once almost back to where we dumped my car,we came across a great hide which looked over the estuary. We spotted Shelduck, Dunlin, Curlew, Redshank, and Golden Plover. we were in no rush to leave the hide as it had started to rain hard. We got out some snacks bars and chocolate and relaxed until the rain slowed a bit.

The final half a mile was miserable it was raining and cold, we were all jus intent on getting back tothe car and inti the warm. Despite the last stretch being cold and wet we had a great walk probably not far off 10 miles in distance.

Eelsfoot Inn Suffolk part XXII

Mushrooms
Mushrooms

I’m not sure how many times we have now we have been to the Eelsfoot Inn at Eastbridge in Suffolk, but we love going there because the beer and food is great and we have yet to hear of or find more reasonable priced accomodation near great countryside. So here we go again off round the M25 and up the A12.

We headed off at a reasonable 10am and were soon on the M25, just to make a change we headed off up the M11 then swung a right on a road to Colchester. We had to stop at a service station to check out a tyre warning light but they were all in the correct range of pressures.

We got to RSPB Mismere at around 12:30 and headed for the cafe for a bite to eat. Turns out they are rebuilding it and the temporary cafe is very tight in comparison to the old one, old 6 tables. The work on the new one seen to be well progressed so we look forward to coming back to have a look round later this year, (August bank holiday?).

Storm clouds over the reed beds
Storm clouds over the reed beds

After a bite to eat we headed off to do a tour of the reserve, the wrong way round! From south hide we saw Smew, Ringed Plover, Pintail. From the sluice Seal, Red throated diver. Whilst in the east hide N phoned to say his car was at the vets and they would be later than anticipated, so we would have to buy the Heidi pies for tomorrows walk.

It did not take long to get to Southwold, but we managed to add Curlew to the day list. The tide was out at Blythburgh waders could be seen in the distance. It was the end of the afternoon and parking in the main car park was easy. Helen’s mood was soon restored back to “happy go lucky” by hot chocolate and a toasted tea cake. The menu at Buchenham Coffee House (in a cellar of the high street near the bus stop) includes a whole section devoted to the “Hot Chocolate Collection”!

The Deli that sells the Heidi pies was also now selling a cheese and potato version which I opted for. Once pied up we headed round the Adnams kitchen shop where I purchased a finger guard for use with the mandolin. We then headed back to the car, the sunset over Warblerswick was stunning. We got to the Eelsfoot inn at about 17:40, I went to have a look for the barn owls with out luck before having a rest before we hit the bar at the inn

H&N arrived at 19:00, good food and beer followed swiftly afterwards, followed by a fairly early bedtime so we were suitably refreshed for a good long walk on Saturday.

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.