Swim Journey 2016 Day 1 places and significance

Starting with seaside resorts and crumbling cliffs on the east Suffolk coast, via two tidal rivers, to the upper River Alde valley.

Brief explanations of the memories and significance of all the swim locations on Day 1 of my A12 swim journey (Roundups and charity info in post: A12 swim journey June 2016: I did it! https://www.imogensriverswims.co.uk/blog/imogens-a12-swim-journey-june-2016-i-did-it/). This and the other posts were written in 2016 just before or after the swim journey and updated December 2022.


Great Yarmouth / Gorleston

Village outings to the seaside, family friend and artist Bridget Heriz lives there now (FB Note, https://www.facebook.com/ImogensA12swimjourney/posts/609482972550720)


Lowestoft (Pakefield)

Village school outings to the seaside, later trips for family shopping, preferred over Ipswich by our parents because of easier parking and a pub to stop for lunch on the way back, a few visits to an art gallery in very recent times. A family friend, Celine, lives in Oulton Broad, and we’ve done several swims at Pakefield and elsewhere along the coast, including Kessingland/Benacre, part way along to Covehithe.



Many trips to the church and the crumbling cliffs, photos of us on the edge (changed now). Several swims here alone and with friends. We scattered our parents ashes here 15 July 2015

Imogen kneeling on a road that ends jaggedly, with cliff to a beach
Covehithe, Imogen looking down from the end of the road, April 2007


Southwold and Hen Reed Beds

Many summer trips. Much liked in later years as a good place to go with a lot of interest, easy promenade and pier to take mum in the buggy, interesting photos, enjoyable alternative arcade (with wacky slot machines by Tim Hunkin)

Hen Reed Beds liked by our parents, stopping point on the way back from or to Southwold, ponies, a bittern.

(FB Note, https://www.facebook.com/ImogensA12swimjourney/posts/613918278773856)



Magnificent church, landmark on the way to Lowestoft or Southwold, family story and early memory of nearly stepping on an adder, Persian carpet sale, several concerts in the church, kayak trip up river with my brother



Fish and chips, cold beach, interesting ruins of the Abbey, known as the city that fell into the sea


Eastbridge and the Minsmere River

Beautiful place to visit, times watching swans upended, interesting flowers and other birds. Walk with my brother later on the day our father died. (FB Note, https://www.facebook.com/ImogensA12swimjourney/posts/610833262415691)



Favourite place to swim for mum and me, first took me there 20 July 1969, many times since, taught me to swim by holding onto her when she was swimming sidestroke. I went there across the fields from school at Leiston. I have been going there again more in recent years. We always thought it was warmer because of the power station, but probably because of the sandbanks at low tide, or perhaps a myth altogether. Many visits enjoying the wild flowers, including hair bells and mum’s favourite soapwort. There are still small scale fishermen, including one whose family lived in our house before us. I often shelter by his boat when I get changed to swim. Ice creams at the Sizewell Tea tearoom.

shingle beach with boats and distant view of power station
Sizewell with power stations and fishing boats

Aldeburgh, Thorpeness, Sluice cottage, Slaughden

Aldeburgh was often visited by parents, especially my dad as his singing teacher and later friend was based there. Another friend’s family lived there until recently. Christmas day trips, dwindling numbers of members of the family until just me and my father, then just me. Thorpeness also a favourite place to visit, and we particularly liked Sluice cottage, halfway between the two, a good stopping place for a walk and to look at the flowers in the shingle or walk across the marshes. Slaughden was another part of Aldeburgh we visited. You can drive right onto the seafront, memory of one day watching turnstones bobbing along like clockwork and turning stones, another day watching the driving rain. You can drive round and back up past the library and the cottage hospital, where I took my dad for a physio visit before we knew the real problem with his back.


Iken and Snape

Snape Maltings and Iken Cliffs visited many times, concerts at Snape, walks at Iken, walk between the two. On one occasion watched some young swimmers coming back completely coated in mud, another time saw two boys rolling about in the mud.

two children rolling in the mud beside a tidal river, canoes in the foreground
mud larking at Iken Cliff, with Iken canoes


Blaxhall, Langham bridge

We often visited Blaxhall Ship (where traditional Suffolk folk musicians still perform on Monday afternoons) and Blaxhall church (with wonderful glass and sculptures by the Rope sisters). Family memory of stopping to watch alpacas in the field near this bridge. I’ve paddled here, and been told by locals and friends who used to swim here as children and more recently that there are deeper pools further downstream.


Farnham / Stratford St Andrew

A recently discovered swimming hole in the River Alde, surprisingly deep and cool under alder trees, the closest swim of all place in the River Alde to the family home.

As children we swam nearer home in a place in the same river which was full of water lilies and weeds, tree roots to climb on and meadows to walk through, but now is very clogged up and on private land (which didn’t matter back then).


I will stay the night at the family home since 1968.

The local pub has a campsite and self-catering and live music http://swefflingwhitehorse.co.uk/accommodation/