Between Highway and Railway: the Gipping River Path, Suffolk

Gipping River Path, Suffolk
Gipping River Path, Suffolk

Gipping Valley, Suffolk, England

The longest walk we did in Suffolk this trip was 10 miles along the Gipping Valley River Path. Today this is a 17-mile restored path running from Ipswich docks to the Stowmarket railway station.

Full Circle

In 860 A.D., villages were established on this peaceful river. Nearly a thousand years later, in 1790, locks and the Gipping Navigation Towpath were built, supporting 100 years of industrial activity in the valley. It flourished with mills, maltings, and factories, and the river was its major thoroughfare.

When railroads were introduced, the river gradually became neglected and polluted. When roads replaced rails and the busy A14 truck route to Felixstowe was built, much of its gravel was quarried from the Gipping Valley, further damaging the landscape.

Then something quintessentially English happened: the quarry pits were flooded and stocked with fish, the valley was reclaimed and nurtured to return to its natural state, and a network of public walks and recreation areas was created for all to enjoy.

IMG_1762

For most of the walk, we found it hard to believe we were between and relatively close to both the A14 and the Ipswich to Norwich Railway line.

At some points, we could hear traffic on the A14, and in several stretches we were alongside the railway tracks. Mostly there were peaceful views across fields, with occasional horses and cows to keep us company.

Horses

 We stopped midway through the walk, sat on steps leading up to one of the old canal bridges, and had a coffee from our trusty Thermos.

Coffee1

Since walks and pubs often go together, we treated ourselves to a stop in Great Blakenham at the end of our walk.

Chequers
Thank you, Suffolk, for your unique and beautiful walks.  I look forward to experiencing more of them on our next visit.

Aggregates Trail, Gipping River Path

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3 Responses

  1. Hi Carol,

    What a delightful sounding walk. I bet it was pleasant and relaxing. In his book, A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson tells of walking along the Appalachian Trail in some spots in Virgina that ran right along the Skyline Drive, the first car road through the Appalachians built during the 1930s. He comments that after weeks of walking in the woods, it was a shock to see a car zipping along right next to them.

  2. That looks just delightful. And I so love the English pubs too. The weather looks superb!

  3. Thanks, Eleanor and Lilly. Eleanor, I enjoyed that Bill Bryson book (and his others). Lilly, we were blessed with great weather and now so happy to be back in beautiful Australia 🙂

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