Martlesham Creek is a sheltered haven for ducks and waders. Tidal and muddy, it branches off the River Deben just outside Woodbridge. Although it’s easily accessible and far from remote, the location is just far enough off the beaten track to keep the hoards away. As the previous weeks weather had been awful and I was itching to get out for a walk, I arranged to meet a friend at Martlesham Parish Rooms. From there, we took a stretch of the Sandlings Walk and in a couple of miles we were on the banks of the creek.
All too often, winter is dismissed as cold and miserable and that’s not the case at all. Despite the weather forecast the sky was blue and the temperature was pushing double figures. Mud was the only downside but my cheap Dunlop wellies kept my feet dry. I should buy a new pair because they’re not really made for hiking. On the other hand, they must be at least 10 years old, so they can’t be that bad.
The tide was out and there was plenty to see. Wigeon, teal, redshank, curlew and black-tailed godwit provided the entertainment. The path runs quite close to the river so binoculars were more than adequate for close-up views of the birds. Heading north, we came to Martlesham Creek boatyard. A motley collection of yachts were floating forlornly on their anchors or laying in the mud and a bit further on several houseboats cuddled up to the bank. It must be a wonderful place to live, like inhabiting a real-life version of Swallows and Amazons. I know I’m over romanticising. Living on a houseboat can’t be easy, especially in winter, but I can understand why people do it and I’m sure it’s not just about money. Houses seem too permanent sometimes, whereas a boat at least provides the possibility of escape.
After crossing the River Fynn at the westernmost tip of the creek, we turned east towards Woodbridge. With more time to spare we would have continued on into the town, but after a mile we retraced our steps and on the way back caught a glimpse of a kingfisher before it disappeared into reeds. Then a brace of little grebes briefly bobbed into view before diving under to find food.
Talking of food, we found a fallen tree trunk to sit on and tucked into our lunch. I’d bought a flask with homemade soup, I had considered bringing a hot drink as well, but two flasks? That’s shear hedonism, not to mention heavy; asking my mate to carry one didn’t seem fair. ‘You can have a hot drink but you’ll have to carry it yourself.’ To be fair, he wouldn’t have minded, especially as he enjoyed the soup so much.
The soup was piping hot, by the way. I bet everyone knows this, but it’s worth repeating. Warm the flask with hot water for a few minutes before filling it. Having a good flask helps as well, mind you. I have two, both stainless steel. They’re probably not as a good as the glass lined ones, but they work well enough and they don’t break when you drop them, which is a bonus.