46 – Aldeburgh: marshes and beach 5.3 miles – 2nd January

In short: extremely muddy in places so walking boots or good wellies are a must. Free parking – even on a very busy day – and lots of choice for a fabulous pitstop near the end. Wonderful views and bracing sea air – the perfect post festivities walk. 2 hrs 20 mins walking + 40 mins pitstop.

A couple of days away from London (and our broken boiler…) at New Year and the opportunity of a longer walk with two fairly willing teenage companions – one son & one niece – this walk is adapted from the AA Aldeburgh walk. I have already decided to cut short the walk by taking a short cut across Aldeburgh marshes but on arrival we discover that the path beyond where we plan to walk is in fact closed anyway for substantial repairs.

We park at Slaughden Quay, more or less the southernmost point of Aldeburgh seafront. There is free parking on the lane near the sailing club – albeit the ground is a little rough here – postcode IP15 5NA. We set off continuing along the lane southwards and take the marked path off right along the edge of the marsh. This path is raised up but nevertheless exceptionally muddy and more than a little treacherous – the views across the Alde estuary on our left are absolutely spectacular.

We stay on this path for a few minutes till we come to a gate – it isn’t possible to continue along here today as there are major works being carried out to the footpath – but in any case we are heading right here and so we descend to the level of the marsh and start along a track.

Shortly there is a marked footpath off right which we take, walking alongside a stream towards the town. As we reach the back garden of the first of the houses the path bends right and then left before reaching a road, Park Road, where we turn left. At this point we are having problems following our map as there seem to be more road choices available than those marked and there is absolutely no useable phone signal to pick up the map on my Sportstracker app.

We take the first road on our right, Lee Road, and follow this all the way to its end – crossing Park Lane after which it becomes Alde Lane – and eventually turning left onto the main road, Victoria Road. This wasn’t the path we had meant to take but in fact it’s not unattractive as we pass pretty coloured cottages and interesting houses.

Just before the roundabout on this road – after having passed both entrance roads into the local hospital – we take a path on the far side of the road to our right which brings us out onto and across another road, Church Farm Road, continuing on the far side.

This is a pretty tree-lined path, firstly running between the backs of houses, and then to the left of a caravan park, with an open field on our left. Just after the caravans end the view opens out on the right across more marshland. We are here walking along an abandoned railway line path – which is a lovely peaceful haven for wildlife and a pretty corridor between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness.

We take a path off right through a gate towards a raised wooden hide – thinking initially that this is a path back across the marshes – we enjoy the views but have to retrace our steps as there isn’t a safe or obvious path onwards.

We continue along our original path until we come to a crossroads of footpaths where we do now turn right to head back towards the beach – with views across to our left of Thorpeness and beyond to the white dome of Sizewell.

The path has a dogleg – right and then left – and after passing the wild ponies we emerge at the main coast road where we cross to turn right and take the path running just behind the beach.

We pass the strikingly lovely shell sculpture on the beach and walk for a bit along the shingle beside the sea. However this really is hard work – particularly in the teeth of a stiff breeze – and we’re all pretty hungry so we continue along the promenade path towards the town centre.

Shortly after passing the lifeboat station we take a road left past a small car park towards the town; turning left onto Crabbe Street we come out onto the main road where they meet at a fork. Continuing on here we decide to grab a bite to eat at the lovely Munchies cafe on the right – where they do absolutely yummy all day breakfast baps. After fortifying ourselves with our choice of food and coffee or hot chocolate – all of which are pronounced terrific – we continue on along the High Road. We take a left turn as soon as we can to walk the last section along the seafront again, and arrive back at Slaughden Quay just as the sun is setting – gorgeous!!

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