Steve S-M’s Orwell River walk – 1st April 2017

Story by David Truzzi-Franconi. Pics contributed by Torben Wood and Chanakan Kwan Natnuea.

The walk started from Pin Mill and after a safety briefing – where Steve pointed out that as there were no railings around the coast at this point caution should be observed – the group set out at a brisk pace in order to meet the 11pm ferry at Shotley Gate, passing the houseboats and Butterman’s Bay. This was a transhipment point for large vessels before the river was dredged to Ipswich and, indeed, importers of butter awaited lighterage here!

We cleared the wooded stretch and set out onto open salt marsh arriving at Shotley in good time to consume a variety of mocchas, lattes, macchiato etc. The foot ferry operates via Harwich so as to cross the shipping lane at right angles, disgorging its passengers via a ramp on to the beach at Landguard Point – we stormed the beach with rucksacks held aloft to keep our sandwiches dry! Skirting the docks we passed Steve’s haulage company and had to run the gamut of lorry drivers trying to exchange their ignition keys for a sandwich. Their piteous cries were soon left behind as we ascended Fagbury Cliffs, stopping for lunch at Trimley Nature Reserve set in the marshes as an Ipswich bound tanker was taking the flood to the medina at Cliff Quay.

Negotiating the boatyard at Levingstone Marina one of our number halted the group to check some chafing from his boot; Andy applied a bandage to no avail and it was decided to shoot the victim. The report from the group’s revolver was soon reverberating across the river whilst we waited for his body to stop twitching – before sliding him under an upturned dinghy. Each of us now proceeded more keenly, aware that a minor slip could prove fatal!

The tide was now out and so we stepped out along the foreshore at Nacton before coming inland to climb to the Orwell Bridge up a steep flight of steps – rewarded by some stunning views down river. As the bridge crossed the mud flats I idly wondered how far I would penetrate if I jumped off – and continued negotiating the detritus thrown from passing vehicles on the narrow footpath. Descending from the bridge on the south side is not easy: you are confronted with a steep grass slope with a few wooden slats set into the ground to check your progress.

Dusk was approaching as we cut across country and found ourselves in Woolverton Marina and on the home run to the Butt and Oyster pub (c. 1456) at Pin Mill, eventually releasing our feet from their bonds, supping a pint and dining on a light repast of boiled puppy and crispy invalid.

An excellent day of brisk walking with only one casualty!

[This was adapted from the coroner’s report – the deceased has not been named until his family have been informed.]