Friday, 18 April 2014

Wattisham Airfield

Walk Summary
There is a lot to commend Suffolk to the country walker in terms of rolling countryside, predominantly arable, along with it's chocolate box villages that you will not fail to come across where ever you choose to walk. With the likes of The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Path & The Sandlings Walk both entirely within the county boundary, as well as the Peddars Way and Norfolk Coast Path National Trail starting (or finishing) just inside the county on Rushford Heath, near Thetford, it also has a lot to offer the long distance walker. 

However for the Peak Bagger there is nothing. Well almost nothing, there is just one TUMP, Great Wood, which at 128m and a prominence of 37m is also the current county top. Only by virtue of the way the county was administered in days gone by there is just one more peak, the Historic County Top of Suffolk (East), Wattisham Airfield. Although this is the closest peak to where I live it has taken me nearly 6 years to getting round to paying it a visit. Ironic really because I suspect if this had been my first peak, it could well have been my last.

Of more than 500 of the peaks I have visited so far since October 2008 this is by far the least distinguished and also the only one that I have claimed, yet not stood upon. That is because it is situated on MoD property on the wrong side of a 12' fence with razor wire looping around the top. No chance of an accidental trespass then. On top of that it looks suspiciously man made with the possible alternative situated adjacent in Park Wood. Either way it makes no difference really as that is also on MoD land.

Anyway apart from obvious whinging from a peak bagger based in Suffolk, like any peak it is merely the excuse or catalyst to go on the walk in the first place. Starting in Wattisham Village you are quickly in to rolling countryside and by the time you have circumnavigated the airbase and got the business of peak bagging out of the way the walk quickly improves with all the best the Suffolk countryside has to offer.

Rather than returning to the main road at Nedging Tye we continued east along the farm track to the 88m spot height where the track ends. From here we carefully edged the short distance around a couple of field boundaries towards Wallow Farm where we rejoined the footpath past Waller Grove. Following the clearly defined paths through the crops we approached Nunnery Mound and Great Bricett, a fine example of the archetypal Suffolk villages mentioned earlier.

For the time of year it was unseasonably cold so we were not able to sense the distinctive smell of honey from the Oilseed Rape, it needs to be at least 68° for the nectar to flow. However the fields where either a vibrant yellow from the blossom or verdant green from the young maturing shoots of wheat and barley.

After skirting the village of Ringshall Stocks we joined the Stowmarket Road out of Ringshall at Baker's Corner for the last mile of the walk to the strategically placed car at about the 6 mile mark. Just  in case anyone did not want to walk the full 8½ miles. However with "only" another 2½ miles of road walking I was not able to persuade anyone to join me on what would have been a final trudge to the van in Wattisham. By now it was 5:30 and the wind was even colder so I was in no mood to go it alone, especially as hot coffee and Easter cakes awaited in the van just a 5 minute drive away interrupted to pay respects at the RAF/USAF WWII memorial on the road junction at Charles Tye.

This walk completed the only 6 peaks within a 50mile radius of where I live, but will not be the last walking to report in and around Suffolk. Lots of walks in and through Suffolk to enjoy with friends and family, but for peak bagging will definitely have to go further afield.

Walk Statistics
Walk Date - 18 April 2014
Walkers - Steve Smith, Gina Smith, Joss Johnson, Kevin Johnson, Sandie Johnson
Accommodation - Home
Start Point - Opposite phone box, Wattisham village (TM 01001 51458)
Start Time - 14:35
Finish Point - Grassy area due south of Charles Hall on Weir Road (TM 03478 53126)
Finish Time - 17:32
Duration - 2hrs 57mins
Average pace - 2.14mph
Distance Walked - 6.30miles
Height Ascended - 83.14metres

Peaks visited
Historic County Tops(49E - 63E&W - 94E,W&S)
Wattisham Airfield (24E - 28E &W -29E,W&S)
E: England
E&W: England & Wales
E,W&S:England,Wales & Scotland


More Photographs
Walk start point near in Wattisham village opposite phone box
Click on photograph to view slide-show