Delightful Deben Walk

by Jan Harber

My sister Judy and I have been doing walks around the Suffolk coast and rivers for many years. We often remark how, if we do a route at a different time of year or the other way round, it can look so undiscovered.  For this reason we are occasionally convinced that we’d never been that way before.

At the end of April we did such a walk, which we were sure was a new one for us. It was only later when we checked our records, that we found we had been that way some ten years before, in the winter.

We started this delightful Deben walk from Sutton village hall car park, a useful place from which to begin several other local routes. The hall is marked by a telephone box symbol on OS Explorer 197 Ipswich, Felixstowe & Harwich. It is on the left, on the Shottisham road, about half a mile further on from The Plough Inn.

Methersgate cottage from the sea wall

There is a footpath beside a house, directly over the road. This took us in a roughly westerly direction across a large field to the metalled byway that is also the drive to Sutton Hall. The crossing over is not straight across as shown on the map, there is a slight right and left dog leg. We stayed on this footpath around two or three more fields before reaching the drive to Cliff Farm and Methersgate Hall. Turning left onto the drive we followed round to the next footpath on the left, and that took us past the Hall on our right, downhill to the River Deben at Methersgate Quay.

Waldringfield from the sea wall nr Cliff Farm

The footpath going downriver was initially beside the broken and not walkable section of seawall leading towards The Hams. Once the path returned to the seawall, the views across the river to Waldringfield, where the dinghies were racing, were splendid.

The Deben looking NW from nr Cliff Farm

After a steep wooded section, the path again followed the seawall towards the sluice at Cliff Farm where there were more lovely views. Shortly after, the footpath led into dense woods at Nettle Hill. Here we heard a nightingale and, while we were listening to this magical sound, we had a fleeting glimpse of a herd of deer leaping across the steep cliff behind us. The footpath here was very narrow and meandered steeply up and down, with waist-high fearsome nettles causing us a few problems.

Reading the map at the bottom of Nettle Hill

Emerging from dense woods, scrub and nettles, not far from Stonner Point, our route turned left away from the river and uphill to Lower Farm. After passing the newly-renovated farm buildings and recently-planted trees and hedges, we turned left at the reservoir. This track led us to Kiln Walk Plantation where we joined the footpath we had come out on.  And so we returned to Sutton village hall.

The Deben looking upriver from nr The Tips

This delightful walk is approximately five miles long. We did it on a fine spring weekend day and yet we hardly saw a soul anywhere along its length. The reason for this may be that there are no vehicle parking places anywhere near the banks of the Deben between Methersgate and Ramsholt.

If contemplating walking this route in spring or early summer, do not wear shorts, and take a stick with you to beat down the undergrowth.

Jan Harber

Janet Harber is the daughter of Jack Coote, known to many as the author of East Coast Rivers, which Jan took on after his death. She is an RDA member.