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The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary

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The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary
Author: adnams, Published: 10 Apr 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary Pub Walkstar1 The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary Pub Walkstar1 The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary Pub Walkstar1 The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary Pub Walkstar1 The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary Pub Walk
Suffolk, Levington
Walk Type: River or lakeside
The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary Pub Walk boot The Ship Inn and Orwell Estuary Pub Walk
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A 3 mile circular pub walk from the Ship Inn in Levington, Suffolk. The Ship Inn is a great cosy inn which probably dates back to the 13th century and still retains some of the ship timbers from which it was built – hence the name. The walking route performs a simple loop, heading out along the edge of the Orwell Estuary and then returning through the woodland of the Broke Hall Estate. There are beautiful sections of woodland, teaming with wild flowers every spring plus great views across the River Orwell throughout.

There are several steady gradients throughout the walk and many of the paths (particularly the woodland bridleways) can become quite muddy after rain and in winter. There are no stiles on route, just a single kissing gate and a few steps. The last half a mile follows a stretch of a quiet country lane so take care of any traffic here. Approximate time 1 to 1.5 hours.

Levington is located about 4 miles south-east of Ipswich in Suffolk, close to the point where the A14 and A12 meet. The walk starts and finishes from The Ship Inn which is on Church Lane (alongside the church) in Levington and has its own large car park at the rear. Approximate post code IP10 0LQ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Boardwalk
Start to Boardwalk

Start point: 52.0044 lat, 1.2544 long
End point: 52.0025 lat, 1.2544 long

Standing on Church Lane with your back to the Ship Inn, go straight ahead to take the signed footpath opposite the pub, a gravel drive which soon dwindles to a grassy path. The path swings left and leads you to a gate ahead. Pass through this and then, do NOT take the path ahead, instead turn right and follow the grass path with the fence directly to the right. At the end of the field you’ll come to a section of boardwalk ahead, across the marshes.

Boardwalk to Orwell Estuary
Boardwalk to Orwell Estuary

Start point: 52.0025 lat, 1.2544 long
End point: 51.9982 lat, 1.2528 long

Keep straight ahead along the boardwalks between the reeds. The boards will lead you over a footbridge, crossing over The Cut, and the path continues as a fenced grass path with open marsh each side. At the end of the path, go ahead up a few steps to reach the embankment path at the side of the Orwell Estuary.

Orwell Estuary to Home Wood
Orwell Estuary to Home Wood

Start point: 51.9982 lat, 1.2528 long
End point: 52.0004 lat, 1.2453 long

Turn right along this estuary side path, with the Orwell Estuary across to the left. This path is part of the Stour and Orwell Walk, a long distance path of 42 miles which takes in both the Stour and Orwell estuaries. Across to the right you’ll be able to see the church and pub back in Levington.

The source river for the Orwell, above the tidal limit, is known as the River Gripping. It broadens out to an estuary at Ipswich where there has been a working dock since the 7th century. The estuary then flows out to the North Sea at Felixstowe. The estuary is a popular sailing destination, but perhaps its greatest claim to fame is that the author Eric Blair chose his pen name, George Orwell, because of his love of the river.

Some way along the path enters a section of woodland, Home Wood.

Home Wood to Parking Area
Home Wood to Parking Area

Start point: 52.0004 lat, 1.2453 long
End point: 52.0063 lat, 1.2329 long

Follow the path winding through the woodland. In spring, the woodland floor is awash with wild flowers. Some way along you’ll pass an ancient oak in the path, with a make-shift rope swing attached – take care here as the steep sandy slope under the rope swing can be a little slippery.

As you emerge from the woodland, the path continues between hedgerows and you’ll pass a private gate on to the right for Broke Hall Park. Continue along the wider grass section, with the fenced parkland to the right holding grazing sheep. There are a number of benches along the fence line, the perfect place to sit and enjoy the estuary’s wildlife and boatlife should you wish.

The original Broke Hall was built by Philip Broke in 1558. The present house was built for Philip Bowes Broke by James Wyatt in 1792. The hall was the home of the celebrated naval officer Admiral Broke who commanded the HMS Shannon during the War of 1812 between the USA and the UK.

Beyond the benches, with the corner of an ivy-clad brick wall ahead, swing right to join a tarmac path which will lead you into a small parking area.

Parking Area to Levington Road
Parking Area to Levington Road

Start point: 52.0063 lat, 1.2329 long
End point: 52.0082 lat, 1.2443 long

Follow the access lane steadily uphill through the car park and, as the lane swings left, keep ahead though the wooden staggered barrier to join a woodland path. You’ll emerge back out to the car park access lane, keep right along this. Continue out under the height restriction barrier to reach a junction in the road. To the right you’ll see the Gate Lodge for Broke Hall, with its impressive ornate quadruple chimney.

Go straight ahead to join the signed bridleway, a woodland path, which starts immediately to the left of the brick gateposts. Follow the bridleway (which can be a bit boggy) through the pretty belt of mixed woodland, once part of the Broke Estate. In spring you’ll find a healthy population of wood anemones carpeting the floor here, with white star flowers enjoying the dappled sunlight before the tree leaves develop in full. Eventually you’ll emerge out to Levington Road.

Levington Road to End
Levington Road to End

Start point: 52.0082 lat, 1.2443 long
End point: 52.0045 lat, 1.2541 long

Turn right along the road, taking care of any traffic. Over the brow of the hill you’ll pass the sign marking the start of Levington village. Continue until you reach the road junction, with a cannon and village sign on the right.

The sign was erected in 1979 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee and depicts a galleon in full sail. The design reflects the finding of an old cannon in the village, the name of the pub and the maritime connections with the Orwell and further afield. Levington is probably most famous for the compost named after it, developed in the village by the horticultural company, Fisons.

Stay on the main road bending right and further along you’ll pass the village church, St. Peter’s, on the left. Immediately after this you’ll come to the Ship Inn, also on the left, for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author adnams and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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