News, Sandlings 2021

Sandlings – Last leg – Ipswich to Woodbridge

Friday December 10th, the two Sagitarians, one on last leg of octogenarian one 64, walked 16km, from Ipswich Station to Woodbridge Station, in a 5 good hours.

We rocked up at Halesworth Station, two dogs, one deaf and blind, one excited, to get the train to Ipswich. The collector forgave my wrong day booking, and allowed us to continue, so we arrived Ipswich one hour later, into the day: dull, and with a cold north wind, which did not invite us to dally to search a taxi or bus, so we headed off across the river.

Our first stop was to solve the problem of the falling trousers.
‘Wrong trousers on, said John, I’ve got Gills trousers by mistake, and they’re falling off’.
An Angling shop provided us with some blue bailer twine, which sufficed for our walk through the modest suburbs of Ipswich (terraces, tarmac gardens, PVC windows doors), until we found St Elizabeths hospice which had a very nice tan belt for £2, and lots of admiration for the two dogs outside the door waiting patiently.

It took us an hour and a half to reach the beginning of the Sandlings walk, a relief to be on heathland off pavements.

Like many modern towns, Ipswich suffers from a seemingly endless amount of urban sprawl that envelops the traditional villages that once surrounded it. However, this walk followed healthland that has been preserved alongside the housing estates all the way from Rushmere Health to Martlesham. Long Strops is one such, a mile long widened bridleway, where we stopped for a light lunch on a bench outside a school. The thought kept returning that someone fought for these last fragments of Sandlings knitted together. And indeed, while looking up Long Strops I find Kesgrave Against Expansion (KAGE) 2013 to 18.

It was here we saw the three masts – the Foxhall transmission site – which which played a key role in WW2 and the Cold War, Operation Tea Bag: a scheme to connect telephone switching stations from across Europe, as far south as Italy, to Foxhall for forward transmission across the Atlantic.

A semi burned and hollow Oak, where Bobji dug, Kali rested, leading to an old coppice of sweet chestnut. We were both feeling the length of the walk at this sage, but knew we had one field to cross before the descent to the water system of Martlesham Creek. We arrived as the watery low sun came out, which lit our way, a half mile along the creek before the turn at Kyson Point – where we stopped one last time – up the Deben. Light glorious pink warm.

Our lift delayed, we had a welcoming cuppa tea and ginger biscuit at Art Safari with the lovely Mary Anne, who was multi tasking on a zoom call, an artist painting on a computer screen. This was followed by an unexpected tapas of snacks at the Cinema cafe, including cheesy chips and a glass of Prosecco with Gill and Michael, before a smooth drive back in the new electric car.

No limitations the next day for either the 64 nor ocotgenarian. We have completed our Sandlings. What next? Norwich to Sea Palling?

The Sandlings is the name given to the lowland heath that once covered a large part of East Suffolk. Today, only a few fragments remain and the walk links these together.

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