Shotley: River views and maritime history

Craft moored at Shotley marina

Craft moored at Shotley marina - Credit:

Cyril Francis enjoys a walk on the Shotley peninsula

Route of the river views and maritime history walk

Route of the river views and maritime history walk - Credit: Archant

With its fine network of public paths and stunning waterside views, walking on the Shotley peninsula is always a pleasure. This week’s walk takes you to Erwarton and Shotley, offering extended views of Harwich Harbour and Parkeston Quay, plus a scenic stretch of the river Stour.

Leave the car park, turn right and take the footway to quickly reach the entrance to Rose Farm. Turn right and follow an access track running between farm buildings and afterwards separating two fields. After passing Shotley Cottage on the left, the track runs downhill and allows scenic views across to Harwich into Essex and a stretch of the river Stour.

Turn right at the bottom, pass a row of cottages and then swing left and right to join a field edge path. Continue along the undulating path that hugs the waterside and passes through successive fields. With a mixture of mud flats and creeks still on the left, the path eventually arrives at a sluice gate, marked ‘Erwarton One’.

Turn right here and follow a grassy path to later draw level with a three-way fingerpost. Turn left and shortly pass a centuries-old oak tree to continue along gently rising ground. Turn right at the next corner, pass Church House and continue up a sloping access driveway. Turn left to enter Erwarton churchyard and pass St Mary the Virgin church on the right. Go round to the front of the church, open at time of walking, and exit churchyard through a pedestrian gate.

Turn left to join a minor road and after about 200 yards, just where the road bends left, turn right to enter a field and continue with a hedge on the right. Follow the path to the point where it swings left and continues ahead beside a field edge. Further ahead ignore a path going left, go forward a few paces and turn right to continue walking on a path separating two cultivated fields.

Head towards and afterwards pass beside woodland marked on the map as New Covert. Pass over a track and shallow ditch to enter the adjoining field. Go right along the edge and after a few more paces turn left to find a path and cross the field, cropped with potatoes at time of walking. On reaching the boundary, turn right, go forward some 60 yards and afterwards turn left beside a finger post directing you in the direction of Charity Farm.

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Continue on a broad path with pigs and their accommodation positioned in fields either side. Cross a stile and follow an access driveway to emerge beside the Shotley road. Cross straight over and continue along a grassy path that later develops into a hard surface. From time to time tantalising views of the River Orwell can be seen in the far distance.

Go past Charity Farmhouse and take the next turning on the right marked as a restricted byway. Continue along a shady path passing between mature hedgerows. Soon Shotley church will appear to the left in front, with the path now running towards it.

Continue ahead, later passing down a slope beside some houses on the right, to reach a road junction. Turn left if you wish to visit the church or view the neatly kept graveyards containing memorials to submariners and seamen from both world wars. Otherwise swing right and climb the hill in front. Nearing the hill top and opposite Shotley Hall, turn left to join a delightful green lane enclosed on either side by mature hedgerows.

Keep following the narrow path downhill, bearing right when you reach the Green Oak sculpture and accompanying seat beside it. Continue to the valley bottom where a small panel lists details about the Golden Wood nature reserve. Cross a nearby bridge, swing right and follow a rising field edge path with a hedge on the left. Turn left at Garden Close and quickly go right between a row of houses. Cross the B1456 in front and rejoin the car park.