Gallery: Discover the wetlands and vineyards of the Shotley Peninsula

1 - Start Point - Lower Holbrook Road car park

1 - Start Point - Lower Holbrook Road car park - Credit: Archant

From the Grade II-listed Royal Hospital School to the action-packed Alton Water reservoir, there is plenty to see along this route.

Holbrook walk map

Holbrook walk map - Credit: Archant

The circular route from Holbrook covers the area between the Rivers Stour and Orwell, which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, sitting within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Alison Connors, walking enthusiast and keen photographer, recently completed the walk and said: “Holbrook is situated in the Shotley peninsula. “At the tip of the Peninsula there are fantastic views of Felixstowe, Landguard Fort and Harwich and the views of the River Stour whilst on this walk are peaceful, relaxing and inspiring.”

Walkers will come across the Royal Hospital School at eitehr end of the walk. Originally located at Greenwich Hospital in London, this was relocated to Holbrook in 1933.

“The building is Grade II listed and was designed by the Birmingham based architect Herbert Tudor Buckland. The original purpose of the school was to provide education to the orphans of seafarers in the Royal and Merchant Navies. It is now an independent day and boarding school.”


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Alison continued: “The soil and climate in this area is suitable for winemaking and a small vineyeard can be found at Shotley. And oilseed rape is in full bloom at the moment. You will get to see several fields of it, dotted around in the countryside. At one point you will walk right next to one, which means you will be able to see how lovely the flowers are at close quarters.

“Also you will be able to absorb the energy that we get from looking at yellow - the colour is well known for its mood enhancing qualities.”

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She also recommends looking out for the trees in the garden of the Old Rectory at St Mary’s church.

If all that exercise has made you hungry, Alton Reservoir is nearby, so why not take a picnic and spend some time there, watching the sailing boats gliding across the water?

Holbrook Walk Directions

1 – From the Lower Holbrook car park pass the information boards to your left, going through a walk way next to a big gate. Follow this track straight down to the bottom. When the track turns into two paths, keep left. Just up the hill you will see the landscape open up and before you there will be the beginnings of the stunning views of the River Stour. You will see a path on your right to the boating area and one to your left. Take the one on the left which will bring you towards an information board.

2 – Follow the edge of the river on a grassy track. There will be options of walking on the shore or the grass track. The views are fantastic from both positions. The river is tidal so it might be an idea to check the times in order to find out how much of the shore you will get to see. The grassy path will end up taking you inland on to a track.

3 – At the top of the track you will see a wonderful view of houses sitting on top of a hill. Follow the track down to a road. There you will turn left on to the road. An immediate sharp right will take you up hill to another road.

4 – With your back to the ‘T’ road that you have just left, join the road in front of you on the right, going up hill, passing houses. Keep going straight. You will pass a pink pub on your right, then a playing field to your left. Remain on this road until you reach the sharp right hand bend.

5 – At the bend, keep going straight, on to a field which has a path in the middle of it. At the bottom of this field you will find yourself at a footbridge. Cross the bridge. You will then be on a long grass path that borders an amazingly bright yellow Oilseed Rape field. Keep on this path until you get to the road.

6 – At the road turn left and follow it down, then up hill passing Rectory Cottages to your right. This road will take you to St Mary’s church at Harkstead.

7 – At the junction opposite St Mary’s, turn left on to the next road, heading down hill. The road will soon take you up hill. Look back to see a wonderful view of the church when you reach the top of the hill. The road will wind around and you will see the village hall to your right and Millennium Green to your left.

8 – At the junction, you will be afforded a pleasant view of the countryside that falls away from you and ends at the River Stour. Turn right on to the road. This will take you down hill past the pub to your left and back to the ‘T’ road to your left. Turn left down it, then once you have taken the sharp left hand bend, take the immediate right, up a track. Just up there when the track starts to bend left, turn right on to a middle of a field path, following the Stour & Orwell Walk sign.

9 – The path will take you up hill and will soon begin to hug the edge of the field on your right. Look out for the small Oak tree with ‘Red Oak Apples’ on its branches.

The view to your left will provide you with views of the River Stour. The clock tower of the Royal Hospital School will poke up above the hill in front of you. At the top take the right turn through two post and rail fences, following the Stour & Orwell Walk sign, through tree’s and bushes. This will bring you out on to Alton Green. Up high, you will see houses, a green and hills. Follow the road down, past the houses and the reedy pond at the bottom.

10 – Turn left at the next road. This will take you down hill passing houses on both sides and back to the start point on your left.

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