Southwold Warblerswick and Minsmere

Southwold to Warblerswick ferry
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.

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.

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 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.

Walk in the rain

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

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.