Shingle Street: River views and coastal wildlife
- Credit: Archant
Richard Tyson enjoys a ramble from Shingle Street
From the car park go towards the sea, passing the SSSI sign and following the concrete track which goes left and passes a white bungalow. Where the track ends I went left to reach the path on top of the grassy bank which is the right of way.
As the tide was high, several yachts were cautiously negotiating the dangerous entrance to the estuary, past the green and red buoys. If the tide is low there will be a better view of the shingle banks, which may well have changed their positions by the time you read this. Opposite is the south end of Orfordness, with the distant lighthouse apparently out at sea.
Continue walking along the top of the bank as the path turns left beside a tidal creek then reaches the road. Turn right and cross a bridge with rusty white railings. In 30 yards your route turns right at the footpath and Suffolk Coastal Path signs. Now you are following the other bank of the creek. Note the wartime pillbox almost hidden by bushes. Soon, lonely inlets lie beside the banks, with Orford Church and castle visible far ahead. Sea lavender was prolific below the wall, and looking straight out to sea I could see one of the new windfarms just over the horizon. Passing a second pillbox, butterflies were numerous on this warm August day and two egrets and a heron were fishing where the creek meets the main river.
Ignore the path on the left going inland and pass a third pillbox beside the track, and continue to an information board at Simpson’s Saltings. Resume the walk and about eight minutes after passing a sluice and yet another pillbox you should turn left along a dyke at 90 degrees to the main dyke. The branch dyke is a right of way and in 200 yards there is a stile at the edge of the tree belt. I chose to go straight ahead but you could try the path to the left. I went through the trees and up a field headland with the hedge on my left. At the top is a concrete track – turn left here. In a few minutes the other path comes in from the left and there are views out beyond the Ness.
Continue straight, past the high fence of the youth custody centre. At the end of the road go left at a grassy triangle, then go along the public road through the prison buildings. Go uphill, with trees on the left, and veer a little right, still on the road. When you see “Hoxon Unit” to the left, your route is to the left, but straight into a dirt-surfaced lane. Keep ahead at the end and follow the road for 10 minutes towards Shingle Street, over the little bridge with railings. You can reach the car park in a few minutes on the road, or you could lengthen the walk by taking one of two paths on the right which lead to the Martello tower.