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Richard's Rambles: Enjoy a peaceful stroll on the marshes

PUBLISHED: 19:09 01 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:09 01 June 2019

Beautiful views and peaceful countryside on the marshes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Beautiful views and peaceful countryside on the marshes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

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Bleak and barren in winter but beautiful and bursting with life in the spring. That's the marshland alongside the Riven Deben on the edge of Felixstowe - and just the place for a peaceful stroll in the countryside. The sparkling white may blooms may be fading but conker trees still have their candles and the verges are thick with cow parsley (or sheep's parsley, as my gran would insist) and the trees are all in leaf.

A footpath across a barley field starts the walk Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLA footpath across a barley field starts the walk Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Walk 4: Falkenham Marshes

Distance: 4 miles

Map: OS Explorer 197

Route: Mix of paths - field paths, gravel tracks, and river wall, which is often uneven.

Lanes lined with cow parsley - a sign of late spring Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLLanes lined with cow parsley - a sign of late spring Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Parking: Falkenham Road, Falkenham - by the wall just past Falkenham church.

Set off walking towards the hill that drops to Falkenham Sink, but within a few yards, immediately past the house that was once The Dog pub until it called last orders in 1970, take a path on the right that climbs a few steps to the field.

Candles in bloom on horse chestnut trees Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLCandles in bloom on horse chestnut trees Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Diagonally across the field is a well-used, well-kept path just narrow enough that you can spread your arms and let your fingers touch the barley feathers as you walk, which immediately transports me back to childhood escapades in meadows and pastures. There are fine views here to the land across the Deben before the path reaches the road - carry straight on ahead down Sheepgate Lane, signposted Goseford Hall, a listed building once known as Red House Farm.

Before the lane runs out take a signed path to the right (just past a hidden reservoir) and follow the edge of the field on the left. Continue forward to cross a watercourse and then at a cross-path turn left to follow the watercourse on your left. The path meanders across the huge flatlands of Falkenham Marshes - now fertile farmland for a variety of crops, this land was once underwater and part of the tidal area bordering the Deben. Over the centuries it has been reclaimed - the river wall is the flood defence - and drained to produce food. It is a peaceful haven, where the only sounds are the wind, warblers in the reed-fringed ditches and the larks high in the sky.

Footbridge over one of the water courses on Falkenham Marshes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLFootbridge over one of the water courses on Falkenham Marshes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

The path sweeps right to cross the first of two footbridges across the watercourses which keep this area well-drained - turn left at both to follow the grassy path as it makes its way between the fields towards the river wall. Over the final watercourse and then climb up onto the river wall - where there are views right across the marshes to the cranes of the Port of Felixstowe and Trimley water tower, and in the other direction to Felixstowe Ferry, its Napoleonic Martello Towers and the sea, across the saltmarsh and river to Ramsholt and its pub and tiny round-towered church, and up river towards Waldringfield.

Turn left and head upriver, keeping your eyes peeled for oystercatchers on the shore, swans in the ditches, peewits dancing in the skies, geese flying over and even the electric blue flash of an occasional kingfisher. Falkenham church can be seen between the trees on the left. It's not a busy stretch of the Deben but there are yachts going past and water-skiers and youngsters being trained to sail do use the area.

Water courses keep the marches drained Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLWater courses keep the marches drained Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

After almost a mile on the river wall, Falkenham Creek is reached and here at a finger post take the path left and down off the wall onto a straight path between fields that heads for a wooded area. At the trees carry on ahead along a gravel tree-lined track that swings left and gently rises to a junction, and turn right. (At the time of writing work is still taking place on the pipeline for the offshore wind farm cables - so be sure when turning right to be careful of any works traffic and keep to the track which then runs closest to the field on the left and soon becomes the only track heading towards a silo). At the next junction turn left to take the path that runs past the church and, at its end, through a gate to the road and the start of the walk.

The River Deben Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLThe River Deben Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

The river wall - can be uneven underfoot but is an excellent footpath with great scenery Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLThe river wall - can be uneven underfoot but is an excellent footpath with great scenery Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Looking across the Falkenham Marshes from the river wall on the Deben Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLLooking across the Falkenham Marshes from the river wall on the Deben Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

Swans in flight and on the water course - Falkenham Marshes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLSwans in flight and on the water course - Falkenham Marshes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

May in flower - it's time to cast a clout, as the saying goes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELLMay in flower - it's time to cast a clout, as the saying goes Picture: RICHARD CORNWELL

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