4 days to do the Suffolk Coastal path was the plan – 55 to 60 miles according to the guide book. It was one we had looked at a few times (the we being Richard and Gary). Finding places to stay had proved a bit tricky but the out of season dates around the end of Sept and the use of AirBnB for the first time made it all come together. Now we would see if the weather stayed on our side. We met at Nottingham train station, grabbed a coffee and jumped on the 07.52 to Lowestoft (with a small stop at Norwich). Bags were of the Osprey variety with weight quite low except for camera gear. We were looking forward to the trip, but were a little worried the route would be poor. It was a walk that we hadn’t heard much about and it was as they say, a bit of an unknown. The Cicerone Guide by Laurence Mitchell would help us on our way.
We had a decent train journey and landed in Lowestoft at 11.35. We nipped to see the Lifeboat – Patsy Knight a Shannon Class and after a photo or two we found the start at the East Point Pavilion fairly easy and we were off ! Garmin watches switched on so distances could be logged…
Route finding was easy – keep the sea on the left and don’t walk backwards…
We took the route closest to the coast and the walking was pleasant with only a few folks around on a Thursday at the end of September. We soon reached Pakefield and admired the thatch roofed church. Here we headed down onto the beach. We planned to walk all the way to Southwold along the front. The tide tables had been checked and it all looked ok.
The beach was empty for the next couple of miles (well except for the odd sea fisherman or two) and the walking was good along a firm beach. The weather was being kind and it felt like a summer’s day even sun cream was discussed. Looking back and forward along the coastline we concluded the route had already exceeded expectations.
We made decent progress and arrived at Kessingland – no coffee shops were open so we pressed on. The sea seemed very distant in this section with a wide beach and shingle area. We nipped in the hide at Benacre Broad nature reserve and saw a heron or two and carried on along the shoreline. This section showed lots of signs of erosion with trees previously in the woodland now collapsed on the beach and smoothed by the waves.
Further on we saw quite a few buildings which had been taken by the sea. Covehithe was our next stop on the route and we decided to carry on with beach route all the way to Southwold. This was a very pleasant 5 miles along the sands in sunshine and Southwold Pier soon came into view, a quick scramble up a cliff and we had arrived.
We walked by the famous beach huts and a well deserved pint of Adnams beer and a sausage roll was taken in the Pier cafe.
Tonight’s digs were the Blyth Hotel. We were made very welcome and after a quick shower we were out to find food. We had walked 13 miles since arriving on 11.35 train so not a bad day’s effort. We chose Coasters and had a decent meal (fish and chips number 1 for Gary). One last pint of Adnams (local brewery – located right in the middle of Southwold) was consumed back in the smart bar of the Blyth Hotel and thoughts turned to the 16 miles we would be tackling on Day 2.