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My geograph apprenticeship on the Shotley peninsula

By Roger Jones

The first time I visited the Shotley Peninsula was in 2009, where, after a visit to Arger Fen TL9336 : Pond in Spouse's Grove by Roger Jones, I followed (by car) the north side of the Stour to the sea. After a walk along the Stour near Holbrook TM1734 : Holbrook Bay looking west by Roger Jones I decided to that this was an area that needed exploring.

I was already taking pictures of landscapes, mostly woodland and coast, when I encountered geograph a couple of years before I joined in May 2011. I had a small Sony compact and a nokia phone with a crude map, but it did at least give GPS co-ordinates. For my first geograph project I decided that I would try and take a picture in every grid square in an area north of the Stour, east of the A12 and south of the Orwell (and the A14) TM1641 : House by the bridge by Roger Jones. This is roughly the Shotley peninsula with the addition of Belstead, Bentley and East Bergholt.

The attractions of the area, from a geographing point of view, were that many of the squares had fewer than 4 pics and it was within a couple of hours traveling distance from my home in London; I was surprised how relatively undiscovered parts this part of Suffolk is apart from a couple of higher profile tourist areas around East Bergholt TM0733 : Flatford Mill with a November Frost by Roger Jones and Pin Mill TM2038 : Pin Mill Harbour by Roger Jones.

After the first month or so of contributing to geograph, where I began to learn about the differences between a "supplemental" TM1734 : Holbrook Boat House Sign by Roger Jones and a "geograph" TM1735 : Mill Stream Holbrook by Roger Jones I invested in a canon G12, and got viewranger LinkExternal link software for my phone, which allowed me to record my trips and link co-ordinates with PicLocata LinkExternal link which was a lot quicker than taking a photo of the co-ordinates from my phone.

The first area I explored was the walk along the north of the Stour starting from Brantham TM1033 : Stour Valley Walk; entrance from Factory Lane, Brantham Industrial Estate by Roger Jones , which is the most industrial TM1133 : Industry by the Stour, nr Brantham (1) by Roger Jones part of the area. On route to Shotley via Stutton, Holbrook and Erwarton there are some lovely bays TM1533 : View north of Stutton Ness by Roger Jones, hardy oaks, TM1633 : Horizontal Salt Water Oaks by Roger Jones, and saltings TM1734 : Saltings near Holbrook Bay by Roger Jones .

Shotley Point is where the Stour and Orwell meet TM2533 : Out through the lock by Roger Jones; and walking north along the Orwell gives good views of Felixstowe Docks TM2534 : Port of Felixstowe by Roger Jones and the different craft that ply their trade TM2534 : Thames Barge and attendants by Roger Jones . In comparison to the Stour, the Orwell shore seems to attract more people, possibly because of the road link to Ipswich. As you approach Pin Mill there are a number of wrecks on the foreshore TM2138 : They seek a quiet part of the shore to die in the company of others of their species by Roger Jones , TM2138 : The declining years of an Eastern Belle by Roger Jones continuing north you will reach the busy area of Pin Mill harbour TM2038 : Looking to Pin Mill Harbour and the Butt and Oyster by Roger Jones and the nearby Butt and Oyster pub.

Inland the main land use is farming, both arable TM2134 : Recently harvested cornfield by Roger Jones and livestock TM1440 : Black sheep in field near Jimmy's Farm by Roger Jones with some evidence of diversification such as business units TM1434 : Farm business units by Roger Jones and farm shops TM1336 : Pond Hall Farm vegetable stall and farm house by Roger Jones .

There are some areas of woodland including a woodyard TM0936 : Dodnash wood yard by Roger Jones. The woodland walks I particularly enjoyed include Cutlers Wood near Freston TM1538 : Footpath through Cutler's Wood by Roger Jones , Holly Wood TM1036 : Bridleway in Holly Wood by Roger Jones and Dodnash Wood TM1035 : Dodnash Wood by Roger Jones both near Bentley. The walk through Dodnash Wood leads to the Dodnash Priory Stone TM1035 : Priory Stone by Roger Jones .

Alton Water TM1535 : Alton Water by Roger Jonesis a reservoir created in 1987, and which split the village of Tattingstone in half, linked by Lemons Hill bridge TM1337 : Lemons Hill Bridge by Roger Jones . Alton water has a number of leisure activities, including a cycle path TM1336 : Cycle track near Alton Water by Roger Jones which is close to the Tattingstone Wonder TM1336 : Tattingstone Wonder by Roger Jones .

I visited the area a number of times between May and September 2011, and managed to find some friendly watering holes. If I had made the journey early in the day up from London I would set myself up with a breakfast at the Harvest Moon Cafe TM0937 : Harvest Moon Cafe by Roger Jones , just off the A12. I also enjoyed breaks at the Butt and Oyster (mentioned above) The White Horse, Tattingstone TM1338 : Looking up White Horse Hill by Roger Jones ; Case is Altered, Bentley TM1036 : Case is Altered by Roger Jones and The Kings Head, East Bergholt TM0734 : The Kings Head by Roger Jones .

At a certain point in my first few months as a geographer I got addicted to the red dots on the personal map, and so just had to geograph every possible square in the selected area, even if there was just a slither of land. These steps TM1741 : Steps to the Orwell by Roger Jones on the banks of the Orwell were just yards inside the square (helpful having viewranger on my phone). A difficult one to get, possibly because of high tide, was this view TM1633 : Dead Tree in the Water by Roger Jones of a fallen tree on the banks of the Stour. There is rather more of Stutton Ness TM1532 : Anglers at Stutton Ness by Roger Jones than appears on the map. I think I was the first person to have both camera and image safely inside the square TM2333 . The square that got away was TM1432 which was always under water when I was by the shore; perhaps I'll keep and eye on tide tables and have my rubber boots handy just to bag this one at some stage in the future.

I think the area is well worth a visit; there are still plenty of squares to document with only a handful of pictures . The Orwell shore is perhaps busier than the Stour, so if you are after a solitary walk in characteristic rural Suffolk the area North of the Stour near Harkstead TM1834 : Cutting the hay by Roger Jones and Erwarton TM2234 : Looking over fields to Erwarton Church by Roger Jones will take some beating; this picture TM1433 : Dead tree near curve in footpath by Roger Jones was taken walking back from the shore one summer evening after a 4 hour walk, on the way to civilisation and a pint of Adnams.




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Fri, 24 Feb 2012 at 09:00
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