Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday, 8 May 2011

An Amble up the Deben Estuary

Felixstowe Ferry

A 15 mile walk along the River Deben in Suffolk, starting at Felixstowe and ending in Woodbridge

The majority of the southern side of the Deben estuary has walkable tidal defence paths although some of have been rendered impassable due to erosion. This gives the opportunity for a change of scene to walk along the quiet country lanes between Waldringfield and Martlesham Creek. Waldringfield is a popular village with a little beach, a sailing club and the May Bush pub overlooking the river and giving rest and refreshment for the weary walker.

Felixstowe to Woodbridge via the Deben Estuary - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Great Eastern Square, FelixstoweView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Turban Centre, WoodbridgeView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
14.8 miles
Walk difficulty


First Group - Bus Service
Service Number
64 - First Group 64 service connects Ipswich, Woodbridge, Wickham Market, Saxmundhamm, Leiston and Aldeburgh. Unfortunately this was made into a 2 hourly service from August 2015
First Group - Bus Service
Service Number
75/76/77 - First Group 75/76/77 bus services connecting Ipswich, Trimley and Felixstowe.

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
09:15 to 15:15
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Very warm day with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. A fresh breeze along the coast to Felixstowe Ferry

Walk Notes

This is a walk which I had wanted to do for many months, maybe even years. It would have been good to walk the estuary all the way but looking at googles satellite imagery it is clear that parts of the river defences have been breached between Waldringfield and Martlesham Creek.

On the day, St Georges Day and a very warm April with blazing sunshine and little breeze, it was a welcome relief to navigate inland where hedgerows offered welcome shade from the scorching sun. An excellent days walk that took in both estuary defence walking and some country lanes which held some sought after shade from the fierce sun. On this occasion we walked the Fynn Valley Walk out to Martlesham rather than going round to Woodbridge as we were due to go out for the evening and needed to get the bus back home. An excellent and well recommended walk.

There are no major features other than the river itself along this stretch of the estuary but watching the sailing boats and the wildlife is enough to keep one interested and it turned out to be a thoroughly enjoyable days walk.

The Deben estuary - Waldringfield
The Deben estuary - Waldringfield


>Follow the seafront from Felixstowe through to Felixstowe Ferry and then follow the Stour and Orwell Path inland route. This will soon depart inland but stick with the footpath along the river defences until it meets Kirton Creek. From here head inland along a track up to the village of Hemley then across fields and back down to the riverside at Waldringfield. From Waldringfield a country lane leads through to MArtlesham creek where there is the option to follow the Fynn Valley path up to Martlesham or continue around the creek and into Woodbridge.

Felixstowe to Waldringfield

From Felixstowe take High Road East out to where it meets the coast. Here there is a path along the seafront all the way through to Felixstowe Ferry. At the end of the path, immediately across the road is the way marker for the Stour and Orwell Path inland route which leads along the river defences. The Path soon departs inland along Kings Fleet but keep with the well defined footpath along the top of the defences. Continue through to Kirton Creek recognisable by the wood on the opposite shore to the creek. Take the track down alongside the wood which leads up to the village of Hemley. At the end of the track, turn left by the church and follow the lane and the right by the church tower. Continue until it meets a road. Here there is a track on the right next to a cottage. At the end of the track a footpath on the left will lead through to Waldringfield, coming out on the shore of the Deben by the Sailing Club.

Waldringfield to Martlesham Creek

Take the road by the May Bush up through the village. The road turns a sharp right and can be fairly busy, but stick with this to the village end where there is a cross roads with the main road departing to the left. Take the lane straight ahead and follow this all the way until there is a Sandlings Path waymarker on the right. Take this footpath across the fields to Martlesham Hall where it turns sharp left and follows the road for a few hundred yards where it crosses the road and goes down a steep wooded bank to Martlesham Creek.

Martlesham Creek to Woodbridge

The path follows the defences around the creek and then continues along well defined riverside path to Woodbridge. At the Tide Mill take the road across the railway onto Quay Side. Turn right and then take Hamblin Road on the left to the Bus terminal at the Turban Centre

Martlesham Creek to Martlesham

Just before the path comes out of the wooded area to run alongside the creek there is a Fynn Valley Path waymarker pointing to a footpath on the left just inside the woods. This follows the woods and comes out on School Lane, Martlesham. Turn right at the road and at the junction with the Red Lion Pub opposite turn right where there is a bus stop just up the road.

Landscape inland of the Deben estuary
Landscape inland of the Deben estuary


May Bush, Waldringfield View in OS Map | View in Google Map

May Bush, Waldringfield

Originally a 14th century farmhouse, it is thought to have become a pub in the mid 1700's. Present day it is a popular Deben Inns establishment on the banks of the Deben with panoramic views across the river and beyond. A varied menu offers local game, meats and fresh seafood with Adnams ales are on offer.


Very busy owing to the fact that it was the Easter Weekend. Nonetheless we found a vacant table on the veranda which offered some welcome shade. A pint of Adnams Gunhill and the barman refilled our water bottles without complaint. Very hospitable staff.

Red Lion, Martlesham View in OS Map | View in Google Map

A 16th century Coaching Inn which was used as an overnight stopover for the Royal Mail between Norwich and London. This is now a Chef and Brewer establishment but retains its old oak beams and large open fireplaces. Friendly and welcoming with food and guest ales on offer.


Arrived at 2pm and we were the only customers in this pub. They had Sharps Atlantic IPA on cask which was a very rewarding and refreshing pint.

The Deben estuary looking across to Ramsholt church
The Deben estuary looking across to Ramsholt church


WaldringfieldView in OS Map | View in Google Map

It is said that there was a settlement at Waldringfield as far back as the iron age. It is certainly listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, the name then being Waldingafelda. There is little more history until more recent times when, during the latter part of the 19th century, the village became an important port for coprolite shipments to Ipswich. Coprolite is a fossilized animal dung which was dug from pits in the fields around Waldringfield and was used in the fertiliser industry. Around this time, cement making also sprang up in the area with barges bringing in the raw materials from the Medway and then taking back the coprolite on their return. At its height Waldringfield provided achorage for a fleet of Thames barges, snows, billybouys, ketches and schooners. The industries receded when phosphates began to be used in fertilisers making the coprolite of little worth. By the early 1900's both coprolite and cement industries had completely gone. In 1921 the Sailing Club was created and this set the trend for the modern day Waldringfield becoming orientated towards the leisure industry.


All Saints Church, HemleyView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The church of All Saints at Hemley dates from the late tudor period, of which the tower is the only remaining remnant, the rest of the building being from Victorian times when the church was completely rebuilt after falling into complete decay. The font, however, dates from the mid-13th century indicating that a structure predating the Tudor tower once existed here.

All Saints Church, Hemley
All Saints Church, Hemley


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery


Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2017-02-13

  1 comment:

  1. My daughter in law's mom l used to live in Felixtowe where I visited her and just adored these river walks and pubs... such peace and richness of its history... what a river ! has a life of its own...that man could never copy.. and it doesnt need us ! we need it instead ,, to drink of its eternal beauty !


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