Walk along the banks of the River Orwell at Wherstead
- Credit: Archant
Bill Baldry enjoys a wide variety of habitats near Ipswich
Parkland, river valley, reed bed, meadow, wood, farmland and the Orwell estuary are all found on this walk. Not surprisingly parts of this walk can be very wet and muddy at times.
The walk starts with a little bit of history. A plaque on the park gates as you enter Bourne Park says: “Opened by HRH Prince Henry on October 7, 1927”.
After the children’s playground and paddling pool go half-left down a slight slope off the broad tree-lined Corporation Avenue towards the reed bed area. This is the start of a variety of habitats along the river valley which are enjoyed by many and cared for by the Greenways Countryside Project and the Friends of Belstead Brook Park.
Stay on the low path and turn left into Bourne Park Reed Beds Local Nature Reserve and follow the river through to Ashground Plantation. Ignore the bridge immediately after the Ashground Plantation sign and maintain direction beside the river. Cross the next bridge and turn right into Bobbit’s Lane Meadows and at the double five-bar gates, cross Bobbit’s Lane. With Kiln Meadow Local Nature Reserve to the right, go straight ahead to the power lines. At entrance to Spring Wood go left through the base of the pylon, right and right again following signs for Spring Wood 125 yards then Thorington Lane 100 yards. At the lane turn right, this will take you over the roar of the A14.
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Take the footpath left across a field and through a tunnel under the railway line. The reeds in the meadows stretching down from Jimmy’s Farm give a clue that the next stretch may be very wet at times.
Follow the rising path through the wood, emerge by an Anglian Water reservoir on your right and follow the concrete access road to the A137. Cross and head into Wherstead village maintaining direction down another concrete drive to Wherstead church, catching your first glance of the River Orwell.
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Pass (or pause at) the award winning Suffolk Food Hall and continue down to the road. Go right along the grass verge then cross by the lay-by and take the footpath round and under the Orwell Bridge. Depending on the state of the tide you may see the full range of estuarine birds from curlew to cormorant, gull to goose.
Follow the river wall and then carefully make your way through the busy boatyard and emerge by Fox’s Reception, then the Chandlery and Orwell House. Descend a few steps and turn right onto the pavement passing Wherstead Oyster Reach just across the road. Right again over what was Bourne Bridge before the road was moved and then cross Wherstead Road (no proper pedestrian crossing point) to re-enter the approach to Bourne Park.