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

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

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.

Southwold Warblerswick and Minsmere

Southwold to Warblerswick ferry

We were awake at a reasonable hour and took our time getting up, watching TV in bed is a real treat. Breakfast was not available until 09:00 Sutherland House clearly does not cater for business travellers, well not the business I work in anyway.

The plan for the day was Southwold first Helen was going to do some shopping and I was going to wander round town and take some photographs. Then we would drive round to Warblerswick for a walk around the marshes there.

I went to the reading room first I thought I might try a panorama. When I got there four locals where putting the world to right. I looked around and noticed that there was a sign saying that if you wanted to take pho graphs you had to apply and put the application in the box on the door, very strange. I asked the locals who could give permissions they all looked at the guy who seemed to be holding court amongst the he asked if I wanted to take general pictures or specific ones, I said general and he have the nod. I think he was a bit surprised she got my tripod out and started taking 24 pictures, but if got the shots I needed, left a donation and made a sharp exit.

Life is a stony beach

Next I went to see if I could have a look around the lighthouse but it turns out it is only open certain days and Monday mornings was not one of them, so I wandered down to the church which is quite large and very light inside. I asked out of curtesy whether it was ok to take photos and was told it was ok but a donation was required, I obliged. The church has a very high roof which is painted in blue and good at the altar end and bare wood at the other, the windows are very large so it is very light inside. I was due to meet Helen at 1100 so headed back to the high street to buy some, shoe laces and found a couple of interesting books, then headed to the free car park to meet Helen.

Next stop was Warblerwick we stopped at the church which seemed to have a very interesting history, it was clearly quite big in a former time as there were parts which were falling down, it looked like it was similar in size to the one in Southwold but the used part of the building was now just one of the side sections, the marks on the tower wall suggested there had previously been a central section and two side sections.

We drove on to the quay side where we parked up for £3 then started with a coffee and shared a piece of carrot cake at the lovely cafe on the corner. Then we headed out towards the sea at the beach hits and walked along the coast for a while then headed in land and though the reed beds back towards the church we realised that we would need to get a shift on if we wanted to get to the Eelsfoot before 1400 so we took the short route back, then drove to Eastbridge getting to the pub with 5 minutes to spare. We dumped our luggage then drove back to Minsmere RSPB.

Minsmere beach

Helen had beans on toast for lunch I had coffee and a packet of savoury cardboard triangles disguised as a health snack, which Helen had for some reason purchased for me. The weather was really quite warm there was hardly a cloud and not much of a wind, as a high pressure system was over the UK and was hold off surrounding lows. We had a good look around the north bushes area then headed out to the seaside it was perfect weather for a gentle stroll. At the scape hide there was a lot to see in terms of waders LRP and snipe the highlights. I had not seen a snipe for quite some time it was almost becoming my boogey bird, one that is pretty common but you never seem to see.

We headed on to the Minsmere sluice and had a look at the bushes there was not the usual activity there, so after twenty minutes of sitting around and seeing not a lot we walked back to the visitors centre, stopping off at one of the hides where we spotted Green Shank and Green Sandpiper which were very unexpected. Then it was back to the pub for a east and time to freshen up before a couple of pints and Adnams and some pub grub.

Jam yesterday jam today

Southwold Lighthouse

With two weeks holiday to look forward to we eased into it slowly. R and L had a welcome party for J round at his parent house. It was great to catchup with some people we had not see for quite a few years.

R was showing off his Ogle car and K was showing off his immaculately restored Land Rover convertible I thing it was number 62 off the production line. The Ogle is the only one still on the road.

Sunday as a short drive got see H&N in their countryside residence on the Essex Cambridgeshire Suffolk border. They lurcher puppy call Wilco which was as made as a bag of badgers. We went for lunch at a pub where Dick Turpin was born one of many pubs in Essex which have claims to the highwaymans heritage. After lunch we watched the start of the Grand Prix then headed further east to Southwold where we had a room booked at Sutherland House.

We could not check in to the hotel till 18:30 sort we wandered down to the pier and I took a few photo’s as the sun was low and the light was that special Suffolk light. Helen won 78 tickets on the slot machines and cashed them and gave the receipt to a young child who was on the premises.

Sutherland House room Southwold

We walked back to the car then drove to the hotel where we managed to find a parking space nearby which would mean that we did not need to move the car till 10. The room was big well furnished and has an ornately moulded ceiling. We had a table booked for 19:00 and it was a good job that we had booked a table as the restaurant was full after we had sat down for 10 minutes.

Southwold Pier

We were given complimentary amuse bouche as while we waited for our starters, smoked salmon, caper berry, and horse radish on a shaped piece of toast. Helen was given a veggie one after refusing the salmon, it was cucumber and onion marmalade I think they may have put it together in a panic, but hHelen said she enjoyed it.

The starters were crab tian for me and goats cheese pannacotta with walnut pesto for Helen both very tasty. For a main I had skate with potatoes soufflé and Helen had goat cheese (again) on potato soufflé again both were very tasty. We had eaten at lunch time so we forewent desert.

Then it was early to bed the real holiday would not really start till Monday and everyone was at work. Bring it on!

Bike ride from Eastbridge to Warblerswick via 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

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.

A trip to Southwold in Suffolk

View of Southwold in Suffolk lighthouse

We woke up to a glorious day, the sun was shining and there were white fluffy coulds against a deep blue sky, the only slight downside is that it was cooler and there was a strong wind to make it worse. I had toast and coffee for breakfast then we all left the house destination Southwold.

The drive from Thorpeness to Southwold takes about 30 minutes, and keeps you away from the A12. We parked up a the pier car park and even managed to find a free parking space. The pier is an interesting place in particular there is an arcade room but all the games are one offs and involve some sort of mechanical feature. The attraction is called The under the pier show and the link I have included probably explains it better than I ever could.

We then headed towards the shops but stopped off at a beach side age for some lunch I had a lovely fish finger sandwich, and an Americano. The weather made for great photography so when the women went shopping I disappeared off round town to make the most of the light. We al met up at 15:00 at the pier arcade and shoved a pound or two into the tuppence waterfalls and day at the races machines.

On the way home we picked up a mini barrel of Adnams bitter, and some parsley. The beer needs to stand for 24 hours but the parsley would be used in the pasta sauce I am making for the evening meal.

View of Southwold in Suffolk

New year at the Eels Foot Inn

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 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

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.

First 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.

The 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.

Sat 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).

Down 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.

Minsmere and a Friday off

Coastguard cottage Dunwich heath

We are off to The Eels Foot this weekend to meet up with Helen and Nik. The Eels Foot if you don;t follow the blog is a pub in a village called Eastbridge just on the edge of the RSPB reserve at Minsmere, it has a couple of features which attract us back, the beers is excellent (Adnams is my all time favourite), and it is a close as you can get to Minsmere for accomodation.

We set out after the rush hour and the plan was to meet up in the Lord Neslon in Southwold at about 13:00, we headed down the A41 but soon turned off when we heard that the M25 was closed both ways between the A42 and the M1, it turns out there was a 6 car pile up. We wasted a bit of time but ended up taking the shorter but slightly longer cross country route involving amongst other roads, A14, A12, A505.

At about 12 we got a call from N&H, they had been way laid by and antiques shop and would be late, so we went to Minsmere for a quick circuit of the reserve and an excellent lunch at the visitors centre. Then we met up at the pub at 14:00.

The pub was followed by a some shopping, I bought a paper. I also managed to get some pano shots of the main square, but the light was grey and overcast so the results might not be that good. It seems ever since I have been wanting to take panorama shots the weather has been not conducive.

Cattle grid with critter ramp

After shopping we headed of to the pub, via the long spiral route, due to my navigation. We just had time to see if the owls were out, and get a shower before eating in the pub in good company. The menu did not have so many veggie options as usual but we made the most of it all the same.