Pure England reveals plans for the ultimate stretch of the Suffolk coastal path

Proposals for improved public access to a 62 km stretch of coast between Bawdsey and Aldeburgh were made by Natural England.

When this fifth and final section of the trail is in place, it will complete a 222 km coastal route along the Suffolk coast. It will run from the Essex and Suffolk border near Manningtree to the Suffolk and Norfolk border at Hopton-on-Sea. It stretches around the confluence of the Alde and Ore and includes three rivers: Ore, Butley and Alde.

The public now has 8 weeks to comment on the proposals for the England Coast Path. If approved, this route will become part of the England Coast Path – the 2,700 mile walking route and England’s newest National Trail currently being developed by Natural England across the coast of England.

The south Suffolk estuaries define the character of this part of the county and the proposed route is entirely within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Region of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is also an important area for wildlife.

Montagus Harrier, Orfordness, Suffolk, Copyright Sean Nixon, from the Surfbirds Galleries

This section of the England Coast Path uses parts of the existing Suffolk Coast Path and begins at the mouth of the north side of the Deben.

Along the way, it takes in Bawdsey’s military history and Shingle Street, then circles the mouth of the Butley River with views of Orford Ness. A few miles further it passes Snape Maltings, then over the swamps to Aldeburgh.

From cliffs to grassy banks, this route offers some interesting sights. These include the Radar Museum and Martello Towers in Bawdsey, Orford Castle and the old military buildings in Orford Ness. Snape Maltings is also an internationally renowned music and performing arts venue.

Hannah Thacker, Natural England Area Manager for Suffolk said: We have had discussions with landowners and key organizations along the proposed route. Your input was essential and shaped the proposals. We thank everyone for their time and contribution so far.

In the next 8 weeks we invite all organizations, farmers, residents, visitors and companies to have a say. It is important that all answers are taken into account and we look forward to hearing people’s views.

Councilor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, said: I am delighted that Natural England is releasing the final report, which will be the last to highlight the path the England Coastal Path will take in Suffolk. This is a very exciting time for anyone who loves the Suffolk coast and enjoys the peace and solitude that it offers. We look forward to continuing to work with Natural England to launch Suffolk’s first fully-fledged National Trail.

Anyone can comment on the reports to Natural England for a period of 8 weeks. Owners and users of the affected land may for certain reasons object to the reports, which are examined by a planning inspector before the foreign minister takes a final decision.

All statements and objections must be received by Natural England by midnight March 31, 2021 at the latest. The full reports as well as all forms and instructions for submitting or filing objections within the next 8 weeks are also available on GOV.UK.

England coastal path

The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 obliges the Secretary of State and Natural England to secure a long distance walking path along the open coast of England as well as public access rights to a larger area along the way for the people.

Natural England is working on the entire coastal route. New sections have also opened in Cumbria, Norfolk, Dorset, Kent, Somerset, Yorkshire, Northumberland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Tees Valley and Lincolnshire.

  • A card shows a schedule for work.
  • The England Coast Path will be our longest, newest and most challenging National Trail, traversing some of our most beautiful scenery and coastal towns.
  • It will for the first time secure the legal rights of public access to typical coastal areas such as foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs.

The proposals not only recommend new sections of the route, but also describe improvements to the existing access to the coast with the following proposals:

  • Determination of clear and continuous path markings along this stretch of coast, with some sections of the existing coastal footpath being brought closer to the sea and some locations being connected together for the first time.
  • In order for the route to roll back if the coastline erodes or slides, the longstanding difficulties in maintaining a continuous route along the coast are resolved.

Additional information – Bawdsey to Aldeburgh coastal path

The Radar Museum explains Bawdsey’s key role in developing radar technology. The cliffs soon give way to the grassy banks that protect much of this coast from the sea. Three Martello Towers along this route defended the coast from another threat.

The remote hamlet of Shingle Street was once home to the river pilots. Here the route leaves the open coast and runs along the rivers which, due to the Orford Ness, partly flow parallel to the sea.

A route around the Butley River has been suggested, but the part-time ferry has been in service for hundreds of years and now relies on volunteers to row people across the river.

Along this route there are glimpses of the strange buildings on Orford Ness that reveal its military history. All is quiet now and the National Trust is in charge of the area, which is a National Conservation Area, with boat trips from Orford. One of the most complete fortresses in England at Orford Castle offers a good view of Orford Ness.

Continue a few miles and the path will pass by Snape Maltings, which has become an internationally renowned music and performing arts venue. In addition to the concert hall, the Maltings offers shops, restaurants and boat trips along the Alde River.

On the north bank, the route partly follows the Sailors’ Path, traditionally a route between Snape and Aldeburgh. The trail now crosses the Aldeburgh Marshes, offering one last chance to walk along the river and see the boats and sailing clubs. There’s one final look south to Orford Ness and the final Martello Tower before discovering the delights of Aldeburgh.

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