Author: Karyll Browne
Want a day trip away from it all with a nostalgic feel but with all modern conveniences? Felixstowe is your destination! It’s easy to get there. After all, it is at the end of the A14 and you can go no further. Yes, there are trucks pounding towards the docks, but life is still sweet along this route; unhurried, passing fields and hamlets and very little else. You could come off the A14 via the scenic route through The Trimleys – St. Mary and St Martin. Trimley St Martin is the smaller of the two and hosts The Sausage Shop, the Hand in Hand pub and Goslings Farm Café – any of which are worth dropping into before you head on to Felixstowe itself. From Trimley St Martin go back out of the village and cross over the mini roundabout into Trimley St Mary. This is a much bigger village that stretches into Walton at Felixstowe without you even realising you have left The Trimleys. If you are a cyclist, take the continuous cycle path from Ipswich to Felixstowe, or, it’s easy driving – whatever takes your fancy – it’s not far to go.
At the main crossroad traffic lights, which welcome visitors into the town, take a right up and over the Railway Bridge and follow the road down to the seafront, past quirky, pointy-roofed houses – and just keep going. You will start to get a feel of Felixstowe and how peaceful and calm it is, even on a blustery day.
Met by the sea wall, you will come to a superbly clean, shingle beach and a prom to write home about. Head south past the neat row of colourful beach huts where you will find all things sea-sidey – amusement arcades, crazy golf, fish and chips and eventually you will come to the Martello Park – both for young children to play in and of some interest to adults is a Martello Tower.
Once you have taken a pleasant walk through the park and back along the front – great for wheelchair access, head towards the town, taking Bent Hill, an incredibly steep road up (probably not so good for wheelchair users).
Parking in Felixstowe is easy and available – not often to be seen elsewhere. Cobbold Road is cheap and has the most fabulously clean public toilets I have ever come across! Once you arrive at the town centre, there is a welcome that purveys a feeling of not-so-much old time, but proud of a slower way of life with all modern amenities.
Cross the traffic-lighted junction from the car park and this gives you immediate entrance to the peaceful, clean and mostly-pedestrianised town centre where you can wander up and down Hamilton Road. Here you can take in regular high street shops, a still-open library, and The Palace cinema enticing you in on a wet and windy day with films to suit all tastes. Browse the numerous independent shops and cafes, like the pink-painted Oak Tearooms on the corner opposite the car park or The Bakery where you can savour a hazelnut and walnut brownie and buy beautifully fresh bread, without the plastic wrapping. And, Felixstowe is charity shop heaven – each one neat and orderly, welcoming, selling their wares of top quality goods. Hear the seagulls squawking overhead as they float gently on the breeze and feel the atmosphere of being unhurried, unrushed and peaceful.
Once you have completed your window or ‘real’ shopping and maybe treated yourself to a cup of something and a bite to eat, it is probably time to explore some more. There is another side to Felixstowe – to the north of the town. Head to the top of Hamilton Road and turn right on the roundabout towards Old Felixstowe. Again, just keep going. If you like to be away from it all, this is the road to follow! It will take you out of town, past both the Ferry Golf Club (the oldest in the UK) and sailing club. Eventually you will arrive at the end of Ferry Road in the village of Felixstowe Ferry. In a time stood still, you will find Winkles Fish & Chip Shop at the boatyard – a scrumptious treat of sizzling battered fish and those, oh so adorable, chips. On a peaceful day out at the seaside you will come across wooden, painted shacks that line the end of the road, along with boats moored up, their masts tinkling in the breeze, patiently waiting for summer. From this friendly village, you can take a foot or cycle ferry across the smooth-flowing River Deben to Bawdsey during the summer months or a walk along the estuary, taking in the delights of rustic nature and do a spot of bird watching. You may see Siberian Chiffchaff, a Western Cattle Egret or even a Glossy Ibis. If you choose to hop over to Bawdsey, you will find the Ferry Road continues, where you can pick up Bawdsey Manor and a small museum in the Radar Transmitter Block. This museum tells the fascinating story of radar development, with interactive displays – a great stop for kids and adults alike. As a last part of your jaunt you could even continue along to the well-known Shingle Street where many a strange happening have been reported, including a failed German invasion!
Returning to Felixstowe Ferry, make your way back past another imposing Martello Tower, out of the village and along Cliff Road where you will find a sandy beach to take a refreshing stroll along, beach huts and the North Sea battering against the shore in a time forgotten. Treat yourself to an ice cream and soak up the coastal atmosphere, watching out for seagulls who quite like a snack.
Continuing to head back, turn off towards the sea at Golf Road and this will bring you to Undercliff Road East, which runs right along the seafront, past the stunning Felixstowe Seafront Gardens. Here you will enjoy an inspiring place to relax and take a wander through the eight gardens of the Heritage Trail, beautifully restored. Imagine being here way back in time a hundred years ago in the Victorian era, when visitors would come to improve their health and well-being in the ‘spas by the sea’.
Resume your journey, take in all that is interesting along the front and pick up Undercliff Road West at the Spa Pavilion. Cross over the roundabout into Langer Road until you come to View Point Road. Drive or cycle down this long, narrow track, gaining a sense of mystery and tension before arriving at Languard Fort – an ancient monument with a viewpoint of the powerful, fully-working, dock – the largest container port and one of the busiest in England.
If you bring your day trip to an end at Languard, you could be blessed with an amazing sunset to be seen from the pebbly beach with gently lapping waves. A delight to behold on a warm summer’s evening!
This guide was written by:
Suffolk Writers Group