Sunday, 9 August 2015

Minsmere and Southwold

First visit of the year to Minsmere home of BBC tv's 'Springwatch' base at the RSPB Reserve. A wet start it was too not helped by leaving my walking trousers back at the B&B. Thankfully the rain did ease off a little after a pitstop for a warming hot chocolate , after all it was only the end of July ..... The reserve is located right on the North Sea coast approximately 24 miles (39 km) north-east of Ipswich. The area provides a number of important habitats, including for species such as bitterns, marsh harriers, hen harriers, avocets and Dartford warblers.The grazing marshes to the south of the Minsmere Levels provide over-wintering grounds for a variety of different waterfowl species. The wind really got up and it was a bleak scene along the beach route. The marshes along the Minsmere River were drained for agricultural use in the 1840s but reflooded during the Second World War to defend against invasion along the East Anglian coast. A number of military defences were built in the area, including pill boxes, anti-tank blocks and barbed wire defence lines. The Minsmere RSPB reserve was established in 1947, making use of the wetland habitats reintroduced by wartime flooding. The chances of spotting any decent birdlife were quite remote as not the best time of the year along with the strong onshore winds. Although Marina is adamant that she did see a Bittern in flight as we entered one of the hides. It didn't really matter though as it was good to walk through the reed beds and then the woodland heath. We saw the wooden studio that is used for Springwatch recording now all boarded up. By late afternoon the wind had dropped completely and the clouds had dispersed completely. The best part of the day you might say. We wandered back up to the beach area which was very different to this morning. We drove a few miles up the coast to the quintessentially English seaside resort of Southwold. Located on the North Sea coast at the mouth of the River Blyth within the Suffolk Coast. First stop was fish 'n' chips on the Pier which went down very well. Southwold Pier was built in 1900. At 247 metres (810 ft) it was long enough to accommodate the Belle steamers which carried trippers along the coast at that time. In World War II, it was weakened by two breaches, and in 1955 a large section was destroyed by a gale. The pier was entirely rebuilt and restored in 2001 and is now about 190 metres (620 ft) long. Walking along the promenade it is impossible to ignore the colourfuly decorated beach huts that line the sea front. Apparently one was recently on the market for princely sum of £120,000 .... Adnams Brewery was established in the town by George and Ernest Adnams in 1872 with the purchase of the Sole Bay Brewery which had been established in 1818. In 2011 it received the Good Pub Guide Brewery of the Year Award. It would have been rude not to have had a pint in the local pub 'The Sole Bay Inn'. Emerging from behind the pub is the 'Lighthouse'. Southwold lighthouse was commissioned in 1890 and automated and electrified in 1938.It stands as a prominent landmark in the centre of the town and is a Grade II listed building. It is 31 metres (102 ft) metres tall, standing 37 metres (121 ft) metres above sea level. It is built of brick and painted white and has 113 steps around a spiral staircase.