In these uncertain times, it’s important that we all pull together and take care of one another. Here at Mollett’s Farm, we are lucky to be blessed with a fabulously supportive community and plenty of countryside and fresh air to enjoy.
With that in mind, we have decided to write about Hidden Coves and Beaches of Suffolk as part of this week’s post.
These wide-open beaches and picturesque forgotten bays are perfect for getting lost in. They provide space for quiet contemplation and can instil a sense of calm even as storm clouds gather overhead.
So, while the fish and chips at Aldeburgh; the heath and history at Dunwich and the lighthouse at Southwold are well publicised (we certainly write about them frequently enough!) We thought we’d share with you the magic of some of the lesser-known beaches on our beautiful heritage coast.
Just a few miles along the coast from Southwold, you’ll find the still, golden beach of Covehithe which is only accessible on foot.
Dotted along the beach you’ll see the salt bleached remains of trees poking out from the sand like modern art sculptures. These are the trees which once lined the crumbling golden cliffs overhead. This area of the coast has the highest rate of coastal erosion in the UK.
It is possible to walk from Southwold to Covehithe. The 5 or so mile beach walk runs along country lanes and footpaths (with one larger road crossing) although this route should be taken with care as it is dependent on the tides. The coastline has eroded over 500 metres here since the 19th Century. The remains of St Andrew’s Church now sits nearer the sea than ever and is the ideal place to sit in quiet contemplation at the power of nature.
Just to the South of Covehithe is Benacre Broads. When you think of Broads you mind instantly leaps to our northern neighbour Norfolk. But Benacre National Nature Reserve (NNR) is on the Suffolk coast.
The reedbeds and lagoons of Benacre, Covehithe and Easton Broads, are home to an impressive array of turns, gulls and oystercatchers along with plenty of other wildlife. It’s the first British landfall for many migrating birds, so it’s especially busy with wildlife during the spring.
Much of the reserve is private property so access apart from the public rights of way is by permission only but it’s a beautiful area featuring a mixture of green woodland, typical Suffolk fields and shingly sand under a wide, open sky.
Strangely enough, in contrast to Benacre and Covehithe, Kessingland is one of the only areas along the UK coast where the sea is receding and the beach is actually growing in size. This is thanks in part to the marram grass and wild lupins planted here in the late 1800’s by the English writer Henry Rider Haggard (whose adventure books are said to have been the inspiration for Indiana Jones franchise!)
This area is old beyond belief Palaeolithic and Neolithic tools and implements have been found here and the remains of an ancient forest lie hidden within the seabed. Kessingland was the richest village in England in medieval times.
Pakefield is old. Archaeological digs have uncovered evidence of earliest evidence of human activity in Northern Europe following the discovery of dwellings from over 700,000 years ago.
The first recorded mention of the village is in the Domesday Book at the end of the 11th century. Pakefield is very unusual in that it has two churches which share a wall – St. Margaret’s and All Saints. During the Second World War, the thatched roof and most of the inside was lost after heavy bombing. The building is famous for being the first church in England to be rebuilt after the war.
If you take a walk along the beach, you’ll find the wooden groynes stop and the beach has more crunchy shingle than golden sand. Go fossil hunting and beach coming and you may even spot seal sunbathing along the pebbly beach. There is a hidden decommissioned lighthouse tucked away on the cliffs which even some locals know nothing about, it’s certainly worth spending some time exploring this dramatic stretch of coastline.
A mere 10 minutes from the beautiful town of Woodbridge lies a calm bay known as Shingle Street. There are no streets here however, just an impressive Martello Tower looking out over the North Sea as a reminder of our military history and a wide stretch of shingle beach.
In a stranger than fiction tale, Shingle Street was evacuated in 1940 ahead of an anticipated German invasion which never came to pass. There were no civilian observers to tell us what happened next but rumours still abound of a dramatic firefight and bodies washing up on the beach, despite the MoD’s denials. Sadly, the village never quite recovered although this means it is usually peaceful and largely empty.
You’ll find an abundance of wildlife here, thanks in large part to it being abandoned all those years ago. The rare vegetated shingle shoreline provides a great breeding spot for tern; and its position, at the mouth of the River Alde, makes it the perfect habitat for a variety of rare flora and fauna. Be sure to bring your magnifying glass and some binoculars.
Supporting small family businesses like our lovely self-catering accommodation is imperative in retaining the quintessential charm and character that our country is world-famous for. Without the army of small, independent UK businesses, our British seaside would be a very different place. We look to the future with hope and resilience and will look forward to welcoming you as and when travel advice permits.
Until then, we will keep calm and continue to share our special Suffolk county. Look after yourselves and each other. Bless us all.