Gipping River Path 2: Broomfield Pit to Ipswich and the Orwell Bridge

26 November 2011

The River Gipping flows from Mendlesham Green to Ipswich, where it becomes the Orwell. Between 1790 and 1793 it was made navigable between Stowmarket and Ipswich as the Ipswich and Stowmarket Navigation, and though the navigation fell out of use in the early 20th century, the former towpath is available for walkers. Today we walked downstream from near the gravel pits at Broomfield, continuing where we'd got to on the first walk from Stowmarket in March.

Walking between old gravel pits from the car to the river

The river and the railway run closely together for much of their length

Approaching the Old Paper Mill

A gently muddy George

Bramford church

Sproughton Mill just below the site of the lock

George pauses as we spot a horse grazing on the path ahead

George helpfully shows the way

Heading under the mainline railway with a flood gate ahead

And the walk's character now begins to change as we are in Ipswich

That barrier ahead is the point at which the River Gipping becomes the River Orwell, diving the semi-tidal from the non-tidal. But our way lies to the left under that bridge...

...for a bit more of the Gipping, eventually reaching this weir

We cross West End Road and here is the weir which divides the tidal from the semi-tidal part of the river.

We head under the docks branch of the railway, which hasn't seen a train in many a year. Ahead through the bushes you can see trains on the main line.

Just past Station Bridge, we continue along the tidal River Orwell

On the other side of the wall, fenced off from the retail park, is more evidence of the dock branch of the railway.

Some acrobatic biking was going on

Crossing Stoke Bridge, there are ever fewer of the earlier dock buildings left, many having been replaced by apartments and Suffolk College buildings.

The Gipping Valley River Path really ends here, but we're continuing our walk along what is part of an alternative route of the Stour & Orwell Walk.

On the leisure-oriented dockside, chains are now decorative

But there are still plenty of boats about

It's rather pleasant along here, though I always found it evocative when the railway lines were still on the dockside. The Wet Dock here was opened in 1842 and at the time was the largest such in England.

The Old Customs House was built in 1845 and is the home of the Ipswich Port Authority

Lots of boats in the Wet Dock

Further on, where there has been less redevelopment, the railway lines still run, but from nowhere to nowhere

The Stour & Orwell Walk then turns away from the dockside and continues through Holywells Park. At one time the waters of the park were transported by ship to Harwich to make beer there, and the beer then brought back by ship. The grounds of the manor house were given to the people of Ipswich in 1936 - the manor was demolished. George and I narrowly avoided being hit by a crashing remote-controlled helicopter.

After Holywells Park, Landseer Park is more open.

The next open area is Pipers Vale, where Lucy, Ellie and Hetty joined us. From here we get a good view of the Orwell Bridge, the route that we took on our main Stour & Orwell Walk.

This is the point where the route across the bridge links up, and so it's time to walk back through Pipers Vale to the car and home. A very pleasant and varied walk.

You can continue the walk down the Orwell by clicking on the picture of a walker, below:

continue the Stour & Orwell Walk - onwards towards Felixstowe

Zoom in for more detail, or see map in larger window: Ordnance Survey | Open Street Map | Google Maps

Total 19.7 km in 4 hours 58 mins (including 18.1 km along the Gipping Valley River Path)


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson