Aldringham: Wildlife and autumn colour
- Credit: Archant
Richard Tyson journeys through heathland, woods and wetlands on a delightful walk close to the coast
From the car park go a little downhill and turn left when a little road is reached (Post Office Lane). When you reach the B1069 turn right and continue using the footpath. The route turns left immediately after the very last house on your left (opposite a private car park) and is indicated by an old wooden bridleway sign.
Keep straight on past a farm on the left as the lane turns into a gravel farm track under big oak and ash trees. In a few minutes, at a junction of tracks, our route is to the left and is marked as the Sandlings Trail. The trees had subdued but lovely colours when I visited and (reaching a wood on my left) they were nicely lit by the welcome but low autumn sun. Looking at some of these ash trees I wondered if they are showing signs of ash die-back, which may destroy them in a year or two.
When you leave the wood ignore a path on the left and swing a little towards the TV mast ahead, which transmits television channels to the surrounding area. Keep ahead at a path waymark and beside the foot of the mast pass into a green lane; keep ahead but when you pass a track which is private you may be able to discern the ruins of an old chapel in the bushes at Chapel Farm. Keep along the lane and cross straight over the B1122 ahead (care, please!) into North Warren, much of which belongs to the RSPB; in summer you might see a woodlark, a scarce species which favours open grassland.
This autumn has been notable for massive displays of fruit and berries, and on the left were some rowan trees completely crimson with berries which had yet to be eaten by the birds. Even butterflies were around the bushes in the bright sunshine, while overhead vapour trails marked planes en route to Scandinavia or even China and Japan.
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In only five minutes a crossing path is reached. Turn left and use a boardwalk through the area, marked on maps as “The Fens”, crossing the jungle-like stream which later passes into Thorpeness Meare. In the summer season this is a good place to see birds of prey such as hobby and marsh harrier.
The path now goes uphill between fences and reaches a track, which goes right just before our route turns left downhill to Birds Farm. Leave nearly all the buildings on your right, then leave metal gates to left and right so that you rise up a grassy path. After a stile, the same direction leads on towards the graveyard of Aldringham Church. The church was open when I visited; there is a good font with Victorian décor dating from the restoration of 1842 and memorials to some of the Ogilvie family, developers of Thorpeness.
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Leave by the gate and turn left down beside the churchyard, then right at the bottom into woodland, followed by a path beside a field. Alder, sloe and blackberry fringe the path, while a gang who had arrived by minibus was busy harvesting swedes as I passed along, soon reaching a cottage and its driveway. Keep straight on to the road, although the land on the right is open access.
Cross the road opposite the Parrot and Punchbowl pub and go left (signed to Knodishall) but in only 100 yards turn left along Mill Hill (a cul-de-sac but not so for walkers). At the end a path goes between two driveways (the signpost has fallen down). Turn right at the end of the footbridge in front and go through woodland. Three junctions of paths are next – go right in every case and then reach Judith Avenue, which you may have noticed near the start. Regain the B1069; now go right, seeing Post Office Lane and the Butchers Arms ahead, to get to the start.