Snape Maltings to Aldeburgh and back – Sunday 18th March

Words and pics contributed by Simon 

“We must be mad.”

Ian, our walk leader for the day, briefly popped out of the car to get his gear from the boot. Hastily he dashed back into the driver’s seat and proceeded to colourfully describe how cold it was. The Met Office had warned that the wind-chill would make it feel like -9 degrees C. Brass monkeys had been warned to stay indoors.

The weather could not stop nine hardy souls from gathering in the car park at Snape Maltings, ready for a bracing walk to Aldeburgh and back. Ian briefly went into ‘tour guide’ mode and explained some of the history of the route we were going to take, the ‘Sailors Path’. I remember he said something about smugglers and how local pub owners used to display lights in a particular way to warn them when it was not safe to come near. But most of us just wanted to get moving and get warm.

After a short walk along the road into Snape, we soon picked up the path towards Aldeburgh. We walked through fields with a smattering of grazing sheep before heading into the woods. The trees were largely bare. The leaves had rather sensibly decided that it definitely wasn’t spring yet and that they would sleep a little longer. There are boarded walkways over the swampy patches, but most of the water we saw underfoot was frozen. Emerging from the woods the path turned from dirt to sand and we soon found ourselves at the road into Aldeburgh. On the way down into town we caught a brief glimpse of the sea. Pale grey and roughened up by the wind.

Aldeburgh was very quiet. The sane people were indoors in the warm. We piled into the Cragg Sisters’ Tea Room and refuelled on hot thick soup and cream teas.

Our route back initially found us re-tracing our steps along the ‘Sailors Path’, but we soon branched off to walk around ‘Snape Warren’ so we could return to the Maltings through the reed beds. The group’s keen bird-watchers were soon identifying marsh harriers, lapwing and avocets. No one seemed very impressed when I pointed out some pigeons.

There was some debate about how far we had actually walked. Phone apps were compared; some said 13 miles and others said 11.6. Precise measurements would have to wait because the Plough and Sail at Snape Maltings beckoned. We claimed the comfy sofas near the wood-burning stove and soon warmed-up over a well-earned pint or two. The conversation drifted into that pleasant realm of nonsense that shows that everyone is having a good time. I was very surprised to learn that apparently Lord Lucan and Marilyn Monroe had faked the moon landings. 

A good day, in good company. Thank you to all involved.