Day 310: Hopton to Southwold
Distance: 18.04 miles
Ascent: 1156 feet
Weather: Moderate Rain & Strong Winds
Accommodation: Southwold Camping Site (Kindly COmplimentary)
I was up early and from about 5am the sea sounded very close and the ground shook every so and often which I was presuming was the sea hitting the wooden defence about 10m away. The forecast was for rain from quite early around 8 so I decided before 6 to just start packing away to try and get everything packed and on my way before the rain came. Once my rucksack was packed I opened the tent flap and was quite shocked as a massive wave smashed over the defences and hit the sand only about 3m from my tent, no wonder the ground had been shaking.
I took down the tent and then realised I may have an issue as the sea was so high, there must have been a storm in the North Sea somewhere as this was far higher than I would expect for a normal high tide. I decided to head off anyway at around 6:30 and it started raining within 5 minutes of setting off so I was glad I had packed up so early. On top of this there were a few very tight spots with the surge of water and one in particular I had to judge the swell, there appeared to be 3 waves and then a gap so after the 3rd wave I had to run to get by one particular bit and just made it as the next wave was coming in otherwise I would have had very wet feet.
At Hopton I climbed onto the cliff, and after a little diversion due to a cliff collapse I reached Corton. After a short section of road walking I headed through a nature reserve and down onto the sea defence promenade that would take me into Lowestoft. The wind was really starting to get up and the waves were crashing over the concrete defences so I tucked on the landward side.
It was not long till I reached Ness Point and even though it didn’t appear anything special this was my fourth and final cardinal point being the most easterly point on mainland Britain. As I attempted to take a photo a particularly big wave crashed over and I had to run to stop myself getting soaked but managed to get a quick snap afterwards before carrying on.
I headed around the docks, and after crossing the quay I decided to stop for a quick tea just as a respite from the wind and rain. After this I followed the promenade for a bit before the map confused me and I ended up climbing up and down the cliffs 3 times, before I decided to just stay on the beach regardless.
At Kessingland I bumped into a couple of people with their dogs and we walked together for a while and had a chat before at an inlet we parted. It was now 3 hours or so beyond high tide so in reality I should be able to follow the beach the whole way, but it was looking dubious. I managed to just squeeze the gap between the sea and the low cliffs to Benacre Nature Reserve and here I saw a birdhide (weirdly without a door I wonder if it had blown of) so decided to use this as a shelter to have some water and a snack.
After this somehow the water was smashing the cliff (more than 3 hours after the tide so there must be a massive storm somewhere), so I had to follow the low cliffs and though not designated a path there appeared to be a clear route and in fact there were no fences at all until I descend back to the beach at Covehithe Broad the next reserve. The wind was battering me even stronger but the rain had finally stopped and fortunately I was able to follow the beach all the way to Southwold.
Southwold was a hive of activity, with many pubs, an alright pier and the effects of Adnams Brewery everywhere. I stocked up in Tescos and then carried on towards the harbour about a mile further on. Southwold Camping Site had very kindly let me pitch, so due to the wind I found the most sheltered spot and pitched up before it started raining again.
I had a shower and as everything was low on charge walked up to the Harbour Inn, a little, beautiful, remote pub. As I was in Southwold I had to have a pint of Adnams, and incredibly kindly a lovely guy in the bar very kindly bought me dinner, which would be far better than what I had waiting back in the tent.
Anyway, a brutal day, being battered by the wind non stop and the rain for most of the day. I hope the tent is in one piece when I get back to it.
NB - Be prepared for some issues tomorrow morning!