We had a workshop in Suffolk with Steve Hedges on Friday 19th November. The workshop had an early start so our plan was to stay in Felixstowe both before and after the workshop.
For the trip we had Justin Minns book on photographing East Anglia and Harry Wheeler-Brand’s guide to the East Anglia Coast. Harry’s book is only available direct from his website.
Thursday 18th November 2021 – Brightlingsea
Going to Brightlingsea meant passing through Colchester and then passing Wivenhoe Park. The University of Essex was my first university which is based at the park. Ironically I never ventured to Brightlingsea during the three years that I was there.
We were in Brightlingsea to see Bateman’s Tower. This is a folly situated at the end of the Western Promenade at the entrance to Brightlingsea Creek. This is page 396 in Justin’s book and page 96 in Harry’s.
From the side the tower looked to be leaning.
Behind us at the start of the jetty was a burger van doing lots of business. Rather than stop for a meal we decided to move on and walked back to the car.
Thursday 18th November 2021 – Walton-on-the-Naze
Following the Essex Coast round we came to Walton-on-the-Naze. This seaside resort had clearly closed down before November and even the public toilets on the promenade were closed. We walked into the town looking for somewhere to get a drink and have lunch.
Nowhere appeared to open for food so we came back the biker’s cafe on the seafront. At the Revved Up we were the only customers and had to pay cash for our bacon rolls and tea. The bacon rolls were good and together with the tea was a welcome lunch.
The owner wasn’t welcoming but once we agreed to pay cash he took out order for bacon rolls and tea. When the rolls came they were very tasty. Disposable foam cups for the tea and paper plates for the bacon rolls would save on washing up!
Perhaps the issue was we were photographers not bikers?
The public loos next door were closed for the Winter, all in all summed up our experience of Walton-on-the-Naze
Harry’s book suggested we visit the beach and the Naze Tower. The tower is 86 feet tall and features an art gallery a museum. The car park for the tower had a large cafe which might have been a better choice for lunch. Maybe next time?
We explored along the cliff tops and from the display boards we learnt about the area’s history in WW2. This included guided missile testing, anti-aircraft batteries as well as a series of pill boxes including ones on the beach below.
Before we turned to walk back we could see the port over the estuary.
Thursday 18th November 2021 – Dovercourt Lighthouse
To get to the Dovercourt Lighthouse from Walton-on-the-Naze meant backtracking out of the Naze peninsular and winding our way around country lanes to head towards Harwich. The closure of several roads didn’t speed up our drive but only confused us and the sat-nav.
The lighthouse is described in Justin’s book on page 344 and in Harry’s on page 64. We parked on the road above the two lighthouses and joined the other photographers on the beach. I was chatting to the leader and then realised I was talking to Justin MInns, the author of the main guide book that we were using.
We were at the lighthouses at probably not an ideal time but at least we were here. Now I could understand why they appeared in other photographer’s images. I joined Steve way down the beach to capture the lighthouse with the docks in the background.
The lighthouse close to the road was full of climbing schoolkids the majority of the time that we were there. This shot has Justin’s group packing up for the day in the foreground.
From the beach looking up.
As we packed up the lights of the docks looked impressive across the estuary.
Thursday 18th November 2021 – Felixstowe
From Harwich we now had to get to Felixstowe which meant driving round and eventually joining the A12 and crossing over the Orwell Bridge on the A14.
We were staying at the Premier Inn in Felixstowe and after dumping our bags we walked along Undercliff Road past the Pier. This was the last of all my firsts of the day as I had never been to Felixstowe before and hadn’t realised it was a seaside town as well as a dock!
We found Prezzo open and went in for a pizza. Covid precautions were a bit limited especially from our waiter.
To get back down to the beach front we had to go down the aptly named Bent Hill.
Our evening finished with a pint at The Alex (I had Ghost Ship.)
Our two guidebooks
Next day – Friday 19th November 2021 – Steve Hedge’s workshop “Suffolk’s Hidden Coast”