Sandlings walk day 1
We’ve started the Sandlings footpath. In part inspired by reading Robert Macfarlan’s book the Old Ways, which describes all the old footpaths he finds and walks. In part finding the start the day of my vaccination, unexpectedly walking the dogs north end of southwold I saw this notice sandlings way from here to Ipswich.
Our first Sandlings walk was on a dull and cold day, and we kept a good pace for 3 hours easy going. Starting along the popular Southwold promenade, up the estuary, passed all the wooden boats out water resting up, over the Bailey bridge. I deviated for the sandlings route as we had already walked the 5 ways part the previous walk, and we cut down, through the reeds. Walked right passed Sara’s home, which made me miss her, and also guilty that I had not been in contact.
We rocked up at Dunwich as the church bells struck 2, and found a bench in the leper church, among the snow drops and violets, and stone fro Cean, hundreds of years old. Begun in 1200 it continued as a hospital until 1600. Excellent sandwiches and tangerine, before making our way to the sea and our taxi, Michael, to collect and transport us back. The sun came out as we left.
Sandlings 2 Dunwich to Sizewell
Still to write up
Sandlings 3 Sizewell to Snape – April 20th 2021
It was 3 weeks since we last walked – the move from Magnolia to East Lodge distracted. We’d both missed the walking and resumed with pleasure on a glorious perfect walking day with pure blue sky and fresh north wind on our backs.
Starting at Sizewell, John resumed his memory of touring Nuclear Power Stations from Dounreay in Scotalnd to Sellafield in Cumbria, and how Britian, determined to be a paradigm leader in nuclear technology lost out by using gas cooling technology, different to the rest of Europe who used water – the 3 pin plug story and hubris.
The walk turns inland, to cross the estuary at Snape. Throughout the walk we came across the conflict between new technology and landscape. First up was the modest signage for Greater Gabbard a 504MW windfarm off the coat here. Completed in 2012 with Siemans turbines it is now owned by SSE Renewables The extension, called Galloper, adding a further 504 MW, was completed in 2018. I gather A solar powered robot scarecrow successfully reduces dangerous levels of bird ‘guano’ on the offshore substation – they are dressed as offshore workers to frighten birds away! Not long after seeing these … we see the first campaign notice Save Our Sandings – a natural SOS. Scottish Power Renewables plan to build two new windfarms and as a first stage they need to industrialise a large area for a complex of at least 3 substations – covering 30 acres with buildings at a height of 21 metres and the similar acreage for a lorry park etc.
This landscape is unknown to me, the first time on this Sandlings walk. With the trees still bare, but blackthorn flowering along with coconut scented gorse, it is clear to see it in such nakedenss. Above us skylarks.
A notice to Wardens Trust – which I had recently come across as sponsors of Wonderful Beasts creative zoom.
In the middle of fields a huge grey modern architecture is being constructed. From the builder we gather it’s just a home for 2 people.
On such sandy soil, no rain for 3 weeks, the sprinkers are on and the covering for frost protection begins, making the field look like water from a distance. Underneath potatoes.
We lunched under the protection of Great Wood – sitting on a bank with the sun on our faces, as we ate delicious brown bread cucumber and sardine sandwiches prepared by Gill.
John is good at asking direct questions and the first is asked of a woman walker – what are the flags in this field. ‘I’m afraid to say the outline for the substation planed by Scottish Power. They could have a perfectly good substation at Sizewell were there is already plenty of infrastructure, but Scottish power do not get on with EDF and vice versa, so they’ve come in land to this glorious landscape and will blot it.’
A little further on, nearer Snape, a bird watcher with a huge lens on his back, invited by John, tells us of Woodlarks to view and that all of nature is 2 weeks behind last year, such sharp frosts we’ve been having.
The last part of the walk to Snape marshes was a picture post card. With tide low, the mud flats full of feeding birds – a Godwit or two, a flying oyster catcher.
Gill was there to meet us, sitting on a bench in the sun by the barges. While we searched for a cuppa, John stuck gold. Remembering an exhibition of his cousin here he went into the shop Lettering Arts Trust to ask if the work, a figurative sculpture, was still here. Here he encountered Harriet Frazer who was one of his cousins pupils and was as overjoyed as we were to find this unexpected connection. Photographs exchanged.
The Lettering Arts Trust was founded in 1988 by Harriet Frazer MBE as ‘Memorials by Artists’. This was in response to Harriet’s need to find someone to make a unique memorial for her step-daughter Sophie, who died suddenly at the age of 26.
At one point John asked me what were the memorable walks in my life. My first back to back walk, coast to coast, 14 days walking and breathing Alfred Wainwright, falling in love with Bob. The 2nd image came to mind was walking with Kali in the Tatra mountains amongst the carpets of wild flowers. The 3rd walk resonated with John for it was a GR route, somewhere near the Col de Vence, in which I came across a random restaurant in an abandoned village which served me the most delicious Daube for lunch.
For John, the walk was from his childhood, in Kashmire. Taken 4 hours by boat up Dal Lake they as 12 year old pupils walked back taking 3-4 days, up a few mountains on the way. Kashmire is where his strongest memories begin.
We’d walked for 5 hours, our longest walk yet. Getting lost twice no doubt lengthened the walk, but otherwise we found a good pace.