I’d heard of Thorpeness due to a number of TV programmes over the last year or so featuring well-known personalities like Kate Humble and Michael Portillo walking the Suffolk coast. It’s only a couple of miles north of Aldeburgh – about half an hour’s walk – and so many people had recommended I walk there since my arrival that this morning I decided to go.
I wake quite early and set off for a beach walk before breakfast. It was such a glorious morning and fabulous to be out before anyone else, other than the odd runner or dog walker. The sky was a clear azure blue and the beach and pastel-coloured buildings on the seafront so pretty it was a joy to be up and about.
Breakfast isn’t served until 9am at The Cross Keys (which given they’ve only got three rooms isn’t unreasonable) but as it was still only about 8am, I decided to stop off at Munchies in the high street and eat there. I’m not a cooked breakfast person and so only wanted something simple.
It was a great place to sit in the morning sun with a yogurt, croissant and flat white,
The girl who served me was very friendly and stood at the door chatting to me as I ate, which was really nice. Then I made my way back to my room to gather a few things before setting off to Thorpeness.
As I reached Maggi Hambling’s Scallop memorial to Benjamin Britten, I couldn’t resist walking across the shingle and taking a close look again. The sun was shining directly on to it and it looked stunning.
I continued walking northwards. It’s such a wild landscape with notices highlighting vegetation growing there – the yellow-horned poppy, sea kale, the sea pea – and how they are being protected. The land in East Anglia is famously flat and the sky looks enormous – it seems like a landscape without limitation.
I could see buildings in the distance and wondered if it was Thorpeness. Close to, I consulted my iPhone to ask it where I was and indeed I had reached my destination. I cut through a path onto a road and to my right more buildings showed I’d reached the town. To my right was a large cafe and to the left some kind of centre, with a boating lake.
Thorpeness looked a little like a holiday park. And in essence, that’s what it is. Once a small fishing village, in 1910 it was bought by Scottish lawyer Stuart Ogilvie who wanted to create a perfect English holiday village. Mock Jacobean and Edwardian houses were built in the coming years and a lake – The Meare – created. JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, was a friend of Ogilvie’s and helped in the design and it was partly themed around his story. The fantasy continued with the building of a windmill …
… and the House in the Clouds.
The house is privately owned and I couldn’t get close enough for a good photo. And that was apparently due to the fairies …
I was interested to see Thorpeness but can’t honestly say I liked it. The Rough Guide describes it as ‘a toy-town reminiscent of the 1960s TV show The Prisoner.’ If you’re old enough to remember the series as I am – and it developed a bit of a cult following – you’ll know that an ex-government officer is imprisoned in a mysterious seaside town and the episodes follow his attempts to escape. I didn’t feel a need to escape Thorpeness but I certainly wouldn’t like to stay there. So I headed back to beautiful Aldeburgh.
It was still a beautiful day (it would cloud over a bit later on). There were more people about than when I’d set off. It’s such a lovely walk and I just relaxed into my surroundings and the sound of the sea and seeing Aldeburgh coming ever closer as I walked on.
For lunch, I’d booked a table at Aldeburgh Market.
This restaurant/deli has a good reputation. I tried to eat there yesterday at lunchtime but they were fully booked (as all the good places to eat are – so book ahead if you’re coming to Aldeburgh) so I reserved a table for today, asking for one outside. I only wanted a light lunch as I have a table booked at another restaurant for dinner. If I hadn’t there were lots of tempting choices, but I settled on a classic prawn avocado with a side chopped salad.
It was simple but very good. The avocado of perfect ripeness, the prawns sweet and delicious in their Marie Rose sauce, with some lightly toasted sourdough on the side. The chopped salad was a perfect choice for it contained some beans and quite a few different chopped vegetables, making it fairly substantial. I drank sparkling water with it and my bill came to £14.20.
By this time I’d done a serious amount of walking so decided to relax a bit more in the afternoon – after I’d bought myself a wild strawberry gelato from Libardi’s Ice Cream Kiosk!