Roxy Rambles: Covehithe
About the Walk
- Distance: 4 km (roughly, according to Strava)
- Time taken: 1 hr
- Time of year walked: end of August
This is a short, circular walk which starts and finishes in the little village of Covehithe and takes you through the Benacre National Nature Reserve and along the rapidly eroding shoreline. It was late afternoon when James and I arrived so we were able to get a parking space outside the Church (there is space for three cars!) but it seems that other people parked on the roadside on the way into the village. Please note there are no public facilities here which is why it doesn’t attract hoards of holidaymakers.
We’ve lived in Suffolk for 14 years and finally made it to this hidden gem of a beach. Thanks to the internet and people like me writing about it, it’s not such a hidden gem these days but there’s still something very unspoilt and tranquil about it. We were there on Bank Holiday Sunday (of all weekends to go!) but sometimes you have to seize these child-free moments. And whilst we passed a few people walking back from the beach it was still very quiet down there.
Part One – The Church
We started at St Andrew’s Church, once a large medieval church now a beautiful ruin by the sea. But within the ruins of the original church stands a smaller and much ‘younger’ church, built in 1672. The upkeep of the larger church was too much so people were allowed to dismantle the older church and build the new one which is still in use today.
If you look closely at the top of the tower there’s a kestrel on the window ledge.
Part Two – To the Sea!
From the Church we walked inland back along the road slightly until you see a footpath and a map on the left. Follow this path, which can be a bit narrow in places, all the way until you get to the sea. Due to the Sandmartins nesting in the cliffs we had a very tiny detour as we approached the beach.
Part Three – The Beach
It was high tide and a grey day but the beach still looked spectacular. We headed North and were able to just get through between the sea and the cliffs but obviously do take care along here. We could see the little holes in the cliffs where the sandmartins were nesting and the texture of the rocks along there was amazing. It’s a very dog-friendly beach so Roxy had a great time exploring.
Part Four – Benacre Broad
Having walked along the beach we found ourselves in what felt like a graveyard for trees but also a natural art gallery – my photos certainly don’t do it justice. As the tide has chipped away at the land it’s taken trees with it and some now perch on the edge of the cliffs whilst some are settled in the sand. I’d love to come back at low tide and see what else lies still on the beach.
There’s a bird hide here that looks out over Benacre Broad, a lagoon which is part of the Benacre National Nature Reserve. We didn’t see any Little Terns but they do nest here in the summer so we kept Roxy on the lead so that she didn’t disturb them. It’s a beautiful spot with the lagoon on one side and the sea on the other – I bet it’s quite something at sunset.
Part Five – Back to the Church
We took a path up from the beach to the left of the bird hide and this led us along the top of the cliffs. It goes without saying that you must not go near the edge (Roxy was on the lead!) – you could always do an out and back walk to the beach if you didn’t want to walk along this section.
This is the part of the walk where you really appreciate the fact that Covehithe has the fasting eroding shoreline in the UK. Estimates suggest that the coast is eroding at 4-5m per year. You suddenly feel quite honoured to be here knowing that in years to come it will look completely different and there will probably be no church to return to.
To the right of the path though was the most amazing bright green field of parsley. Such a lovely bold colour on such a grey day. I have to say I’d be a little nervous driving a tractor along these paths though.
We took a path towards the church which we could see in the distance. We had a field of pigs to our left and in the hedgerows on the right were lots of seasonal berries and even some wild hops. I’ll be honest, despite once being a farmer’s daughter, my knowledge of hedgerows is on a par with my bird-spotting abilities and I only knew they were wild hops because I overheard a passer by say so!
Then we were back to the car having really enjoyed the walk. There was so much nature to take in but also the awareness of how powerful nature can be and that one day Covehithe will be no more. See it while you can.
Please note: The accuracy of distances and times are questionable so please check everything on t’internet or even a real life map (!) before you set off. And please do take care and read the warnings on all the signs concerning the safety of the cliffs.