In short: lovely varied walk with atmospheric estuary views, rural landscapes and huge Suffolk skies. Bone dry ground but good walking boots definitely worth it as the ground is quite rutted and uneven. Plenty of parking – some free, some paid – public toilets available in the village; rather over-rated village cafe, super coffee, poor pastry. 2 hrs 5 mins walking + 20 mins pitstop.
Easter Sunday dawns bright and fair despite a rainy forecast and I venture out on a lovely Suffolk break walk with my husband (oh yes – he does exist – and we do occasionally do things together…!) It is worth pointing out though to those who don’t know him that he is about a foot taller than me – a large amount of this made up of leg length – and hence this walk was very definitely completed at a pace a little more rapid than my usual…
The large part of this walk is taken from the ifootpath.com website – their walk entitled: ‘Kings and Sailors: The Orford Heritage and Pub Trail’.
We start as per walks 9 & 11 from Daphne Road where there is some free on street parking (see walk 9 for alternatives) and heading away from the main village road, Quay Street, we take a marked footpath right to head towards the coastal path at the river estuary.
We pass by a couple of fields, alongside a ditch which we cross at a marked bridge, to pick up the obvious path across a planted field to a couple of gates and then wooden steps up to the coastal path. Here we turn right – with the glorious estuary dotted with picturesque boats on our left.
We go through a gate to pass the sailing club where we use the steps to drop down onto the shingle and continue past the delightful Riverside Tearooms (not sampled today unfortunately) and a couple of other wooden cabins to the quay.
We cross the quay passing the wooden shelter to the little shingle beach, and then turn right and very shortly after left to follow the coastal path again. We stay on this windy and windy (!) path for quite some time; passing at least 2 paths off right which meet at a metal gate down in a field. We continue on with lovely views back to the village…
…and across to the castle…
…past the RSPB reserve, Havergate island on our left once the bulk of Orford Ness is behind us.
Eventually we reach a path off right just after the path has taken a hard left turn where we descend a grassy slope to a metal gate with a footpath map on a board beside it. We pass through the gate and along this well made track to the road, Gedgrave Road, at the top.
On reaching the road we turn right and shortly after passing a side road right to a set of cottages we turn left on the left hand of a pair of tracks. This climbs slightly and we pass – and ignore – a path off right, to pass a smallholding with animals on our right and fields left and right before the path bends right to pass woodland on our left – this is apparently Gedgrave Broom.
We continue on this path for some time till we pass some cottages and then a substantial house on our left shortly after which we are at a crossroads of paths. Here we turn left to follow a path downhill slightly with a line of trees on our left and fields with woods beyond on our right.
At the foot of this slope we come upon the surprising sight of an absolutely immaculate cricket pitch and pavilion – tucked here off the beaten track – how very English!
We pass this tranquil scene and continue on till we reach a lane arriving from the right at which point we have a good view of Sudbourne Hall on our left – now private housing but formerly the centre of a large estate.
Here we turn and retrace our steps – despite my husband’s pleas to explore the lane which I am adamant leads out to the main road and a potentially not so pleasant walk back!
Eventually we return to the crossroads we were at previously and here we continue straight on this time – now with a clear view of Orford Castle in front of us. At the end of this track we find ourselves on a quiet side road in the village walking at the back of the fire station and in front of the primary school. We continue on this road past the entrance to the sports and recreation ground on our right until we reach the Crown and Castle hotel in front of us where we turn left onto Market Place – looking back over our shoulders at the near view of the castle.
On the left of this market square is the Pump Street Bakery which has a national reputation for baking excellence and so our expectations are high when we realise there’s an outside table free. A delicious coffee and frankly dreadful pastel de nata (Portuguese custard tart for those not fully conversant with these usually lovely treats) – means that for me there really is only one cafe in town…the Riverside Tearooms! The (single) toilet was absolutely fine though and very welcome at this point in the morning!
After a very brief pitstop we leave, turn left to the village stores to pick up essentials for lunch and walk through the churchyard to turn left on leaving and then first right to bring us back to Daphne Road.
A super walk – it has set us up nicely for Easter Sunday – and even proven that we may be able to both share in an activity in the months and years to come!