Somehow June has slipped past when I wasn’t paying attention and it’s now July. The hundred miles a month were hard to fit in again this month, what with interviews and changes to my hours. The sultry, humid weather didn’t help much either. When I set myself this challenge, back in January, I was unemployed and fitting in the miles was a simple matter, working full time has made it less so and, as I added the miles for week three, I realised I was going to have to get my finger out. Or my walking shoes on.
Week 1 18.91 miles
In week one I didn’t exactly burn up the miles but at least I was finally out of Essex. The end of the week found me in Ipswich, approaching the village of Pin Mill on the banks of the River Orwell. The most famous thing about Pin Mill seems to be its seventeenth century pub, the Butt & Oyster and the beautiful views of the Orwell estuary. The village and the pub were once involved in the smuggling that was rife along this coast.
These days it seems to be mostly about sailing. Pin Mill was once a landing point for cargo ships and Thames barges were repaired there. During World War II it was home to the Royal Navy Motor Launches and many of the landing craft involved in D-Day originated there. The foreshore is dotted with houseboats and it is a popular yachting destination.
Most interesting to me, there are lots of signposted walks to get lost on.
Week 2 29.06 miles
After a very poor start to my June miles I set to and caught up some ground in week two. This was mostly down to the June, Walking Is Exercise Too! walk, and the bit extra I added when I realised I’d messed up on my miles. Well, that and good weather all week for walking to and from work.
The week’s miles took me across the River Orwell on the Orwell Bridge just east of Ipswich, through Bridge Wood and another mile along the coast towards Levington. The wood is, apparently, filled with bluebells, although I think they might be over by now. It’s ancient woodland, managed since at least 1600, with old oak trees that have stood for hundreds of years. There are excellent footpaths which give access to spectacular landslides leading down onto the shore.
Levington, my next port of call, has some nice circular walks and a boardwalk across the marsh and reeds on reclaimed land through woods filled with roe deer. Sounds idyllic. Apparently a Viking ship was once found in Levington creek, most probably part of a fleet of Danish ships which invaded in 991. What became of it I don’t know.
Week 3 21.27 miles
What with interviews and shed troubles the miles were not as high as I’d have liked this week. Still I made it back to the sea at the mouth of the River Orwell before sneakily crossing the little River Deben to Bawdsey by ferry at Felixstowe. My walk along the coast took me to the village of Hollesley on the Bawdsey peninsular. The tiny village has a population of less than fifteen hundred but does have a prison, Hollesley Bay Prison.
Luckily I didn’t get to visit the prison, even virtually. Having said that, it was in the news this week. It’s an open prison and one of the inmates was caught with some unusual contraband. Not drugs or arms, but a pet rabbit which he found while working outside the prison. The prisoner was told off and his erstwhile pet confiscated and sent to a rescue centre. I actually feel a little sorry for the poor man.
My walk ended at the mouth of the River Ore overlooking the marshes.
Week 4 & 5 30.79
Week four took me within two days of the end of the month so I have lumped together the miles for those last nine days, making my weekly total look rather good, even if I do say so myself. Yet again, by the skin of my teeth, I managed to make the hundred, ending the month with 100.03 miles, talk about cutting it fine!
The walk took me on a little detour inland up the Buntley River and back down the other side. I walked alongs the Rivers Ore and Alde, not knowing which was which as they are actually one stretch of water with no obvious divide. Oddly, the rivers run parallel to the coast, separated from the sea only by a thin finger of shingle spit called Orford Ness that is almost uninhabited.
The River Alde does, eventually run inland for a while and, with no ferry, I followed until I found a bridge then came back along the opposite bank. My walk ended on the edge of fields outside Aldeburgh. I’m looking forward to the blue flag shingle beach, if only virtually, and the fisherman’s huts. There is an annual festival of arts, created in 1948 by composer Benjamin Britten but I think I may have missed that already.
The name Aldeburgh means old fort but the original Tudor town, along with the fort have been lost to the sea. There is another of those Napoleonic Martello Towers though and one of the best fish and chip shops in the UK. Maybe I’d best sidle past that with my eyes closed.
In the sixteenth century Aldeburgh had a thriving ship building industry and Sir Francis Drake’s ship Golden Hind was built there. Silt put paid to ship building though and the town is now a fishing village and popular seaside resort,
So that was June. With three day weekends ahead I’m hoping to make a better job of the July miles. Wonder if I’ll make it to Norfolk.