'Sundays in Spring' - Suffolk landscape photography walks
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April 23, 2024

May. My favourite time of year in the Suffolk landscape. I've selected 4 walks that are representative of our diverse landscape; places that I've been sharing photos of on the Suffolk Project instagram for years now. Every Sunday afternoon in May I'll be inviting people to join me after lunch (the last walk is a bit later) to spend a couple of hours walking, talking and taking photographs. I'll be sharing a few thoughts on my approach to photography and offering help or advice. I've tried to choose routes that lead through a number of our characteristic Suffolk coastal landscape types: arable farmland, flooding meadows, ancient oak woodland, heather heathland, gorse scrubland, grazing marsh, reedbeds, alder carr, and birch woodland and all it's variations. As always, the aim is to capture and record the special character of these places and their denizens.

No special equipment or experience is required, although, being old-fashioned, I still believe a stand-alone camera gives you the best chance of getting good pictures! (Some people achieve remarkable things with camera phones). Let me know by email on richard@thesuffolkproject.co.uk if you're planning to come. Group sizes will probably need to be limited to about ten, according to the location, parking and paths. I'm suggesting a price of £10 per person, but there will be no pressure to pay and PLEASE don't avoid coming if you can't or don't want to pay! Obviously we'll be passing over rough terrain and will probably encounter muddy areas.

Please consider ride-sharing, wherever possible, to keep our footprint down, and in some instances because there is limited parking. I can offer lifts in my old banger for anyone in Yoxford or I pass on the way.

 

Sunday 5th May 3pm Staverton Thicks

The Thicks require little introduction for many Suffolk residents, although places on the internet still describe it as 'Suffolk's best kept secret'. This exceptional SSSI is a relatively small part of the old deer park of nearby Wantisden Hall. Most of the medieval park has been maintained as relatively open woodland of ancient pollarded oak trees, whereas the Thicks has been allowed to run riot, impenetrable in places, with Holly being the main invader. The Holly trees that wind in and around the dying oaks have reached unprecedented proportions, according to some sources, the biggest in the country. Collapsing birch trees add another layer to the visual chaos. This walk is relatively short in distance, but with so many extraordinary sights, time there passes quickly. If we can keep to 2 or 3 cars it's possible to park on a small lay-by next to the woods, otherwise there's a larger car park a 10 minute walk down the road.

Meeting point here.

 

 

Sunday 12th May 3pm Aldringham Church to North Warren

This walk is representative of a number of Suffolk coastal landscape types: grazing fields and marshes, reedbeds, wet woodland and more. As such it is full of interest and diversity. For the photographer, there are a number of charming features as one passes through Bird Farm before dropping through woodland onto the raised walkway through the reedbeds. On my recent visit, I stopped in the viewing hide for a few minutes and heard the Bittern booming, and watched a marsh harrier being mobbed by a pair of lapwing who doubtless have a nest to protect. The walk then follows the edge of North Warren Heath, in places surrounded by enormous gorse bushes, elsewhere following the edge of the reedbed. From there, the path passes through open woodland before eventually re-crossing the marsh and Hundred river, and back up to the farm and across fields to the churchyard full of wildflowers. There's too many interesting details to list here!

Meeting point here.

 

 

Sunday 19th May 3pm The Min valley between Westleton and East Bridge

This was the route I chose the first time I led a photo walk a few years back and it's still a favourite. Unfortunately, on that particular occasion it rained solidly for almost the whole walk except a brief interlude when the sun popped out, the woods sparkled, and people were able to get their camera out for a few minutes! This walk encompasses all the variants of Suffolk's distinctive and rare lowland heath: heather and gorse, and open woodland, with birch and Scots Pine. Much of this landscape has been managed by the RSPB with the hope of attracting two equally weird birds: the nightjar and stone curlew. I like to take the high ground on the walk out, and then drop down to the edge of the valley on the way back, so we'll see the old grazing marshes and swampy carr woodland.

Meeting point here.

 

 

Sunday 26th May 5pm. Sweffling.

For the last in this series of walks we'll be moving inland to the typical arable countryside that dominates much of Suffolk. Meeting at the wonderful White Horse, Sweffling, a little bit later in the day so that we finish our walk as the pubs doors open at 7pm (in case anyone has worked up a thirst). I haven't finalised the route yet, but will share details soon: it's sure to encompass, the upper River Alde's meadows, arable crops, old farmsteads, hedgerows and woodland. We'll park our cars at the overflow car park in the field up the road.

Meeting point here.

 

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