Felixstowe Ferry circular route across the marshes to Falkenham Church - By Mark Ford
This route has appeared in an AA guide book from around 2009 but every time I have walked it there have been very few, if any people on the footpaths. I walk this route for its big Suffolk skies, the tranquil nature of the river and the little-known history along the route. It is also a great spot for migratory birds being on the most easterly part of the UK.
The start point is in the hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry where there are two tea rooms and The Ferryboat Inn which serves good food in generous proportions and has well-kept cask ales. This Inn was originally built in 1465 as the house of the Ferry Master and became a hostelry in the following century.
On the other side of the River Deben is Bawdsey Manor which was a RAF base from 1936 to 1990 and was the original research centre for Robert Watson-Watt’s development of radar.
The walk starts on the footpath at the right-hand side of the Millenium Field and follows the side of the creek past some derelict and other not so derelict boats to a path junction where we take the right-hand path along the raised bank of the river. We follow this path for about a kilometre and reach Kingsfleet so named as this was the assembly point of the warships of King Edward III during the 100 year’s war with the French. Much has changed since the 1330’s and Kingsfleet has silted up, been closed off and is now a freshwater fishing lake.
We continue along the river bank for another 1.2km and reach a footpath heading to the left which takes a meandering route along the reclaimed marsh and climbs up to Sheepgate Lane where we turn left and head up the road to the T Junction and take the footpath across the field to Falkenham Church. Dedicated to St Ethelbert an 8th century King of East Anglia.
There is a bench at the rear of the church with lovely views across the river and provides an ideal spot to rest for a few minutes.
We take the route back across the field and turn right to pass Russel’s farm on the left to another T junction and cross the road into the fields and drop down for about 400m to the dip and turn left into an area called ‘The Wilderness’ and go along the side of the ponds to a meadow which we cross diagonally and then keep to the field boundary then turn left and where the hedge ends climb up towards Brick Kiln Cottages. Keep an eye out for hares in the fields.
We turn left along the lane in front of the cottages and stay on the lane past Gulpher Hall and reach a field edge path on our left which climbs slightly and then turns left for about 480m turn left again coming to a pill box where we turn right onto Ferry Road and keep along this road to reach Cliff Road. We follow the road left and take the footpath to the right across the golf course to reach the sea wall and turn left past the Martello Tower towards Felixstowe Ferry.
The first Martello is disused but the next one along is a private residence. These were built between 1804 and 1812 as part of a line of 103 towers from Sussex to Suffolk to defend against any invasion by Napoleon’s forces. You will also have much better views of Bawdsey Manor from the sea wall.
The walk continues along the sea wall to Felixstowe Ferry where you can refresh yourselves in either of the two cafes or have a well-deserved lunch in the Ferryboat, maybe a pint of Adnam’s Ghostship.
OS explorer 197 refers and the walk is around 7.5 miles or 12.5km and I usually allow around 3 hours though there are sufficient alternatives to make this a 6.5 mile or 9 mile route.