Thursday, 24 April 2014

Alton Water south loop with Stour & Orwell Walk extension

Walk Summary
Do you know this is the first page within this blog that does not include a peak being visited.

The change in blog name from "Peak Bagging English & Welsh Nuttalls" to "Peak Bagging and Long Distance Walking in the UK" allowed me to include local walks rather than me constantly being frustrated that my passion for hill walking is just too far away from where I live. Not only has it brought the hills closer to home by including Deweys, HuMPs, Marylins etc, it also includes the many miles of long distance walks available throughout the kingdom including those areas close to home without a great concentration of contours or any contours at all. Most importantly it has made my passion more inclusive for the wife, meaning we can share most of the great experience I have had when walking alone. I say most because although I think it is a great experience to be out in all weathers the wife does not always share this view particularly when we are above 2000' and I suspect quite a bit lower.

Whilst the walk objective was primarily to walk all the way round Alton Reservoir, the 10½ miles figure of eight option was discarded to allow us to explore the paths south of the dam and sample a section albeit small section of the Stour & Orwell Walk (S&OW). We chose the short extension which was also 10½ miles. The S&OW is a 42 mile walk from Cattawade on the Suffolk border with Essex along the north shore of the River Stour to Harwich, along the south shore of the Orwell to the historic county town of Ipswich, around the modern Marina and back out to sea along the north shore of the Orwell to Felixstowe. A doable walk we would be quite an achievement to do in 3 consecutive days later in the year, but only after we are both fit enough to walk 15 miles in a single day and then about the same the following day.

The 7½ mile route around the southern loop can be extended by 3 miles by including the short extension to the S&OW, 6 miles the long extension or nearly 9 miles with a combination of all 3. 

The route around the reservoir is purpose built and doubles as a cycle path most of the way round the southern part of the reservoir. It is well signposted with lots of  parking spots to leave a second car for larger groups where there is a chance some may not complete the full circuit. There are a number of info boards all around showing current locations and the signposts show not only direction but distances to the next couple of info/parking spots.

We chose the short extension today leaving the longer options to build up the miles on future walks. Walking anti-clockwise and instead of crossing the dam left the path near the cycle hire shop and cafe heading through Stutton to join the S&OW on Lower Street. Passing St. Peters Church on Church Field Road, then behind the Royal Hospital School playing field we turmed right at the bottom of Markwell's Farm to reach the sea bank on the north side of the tidal River Stour.

The S&OW continues along the sea bank for an all too brief ½mile heading back towards Alton Water along the west bank of Holbrook Mill Stream west bank near Wall Farm Wharf. When we realised Holbrook Mill was imminent we began to look forward to a grassy bank with a view of the mill across a mill pond. Unfortunately it is privately owned and unless we wanted to sit on the roadside of the B1080 near Primrose Hill would have to postpone lunch for a short while longer.

After lunch we were soon returned to Alton Water at the north end of the dam. Only 3 miles back to the van from here along the path to the van. As it turned out this was plenty for Gina who has not done many long distances since we walked The Great Glen Way together last October 2013. It is is important not to overdo distance walking preparation as it is to prepare in the first place.

The entire walk was great showing off Suffolk scenery and estuary landscape at it's best, proving once and for all that it does not matter where you live the joys and benefits of walking can be enjoyed anywhere in the country.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 23 April 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith
Accommodation - Home
Start Point - Lemon's Hill North Car Park (TM 13728 37685)
Start Time - 14:35
Finish Point - Lemon's Hill North Car Park (TM 13728 37685)
Finish Time - 17:32
Duration - 5hrs 09mins
Average pace - 2.05mph
Distance Walked - 10.55miles
Height Ascended - 173.87metres

Peaks visited


More Photographs

Lane and pond at back of St. Peter's Church, Stutton.
Seems I am not the only one to see a photo opportunity

Click on photograph to view slide-show