Richard's Rambles: Enjoy a peaceful stroll on the marshes
PUBLISHED: 19:09 01 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:09 01 June 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.