Eastbridge and the Minsmere River 2016

Eastbridge has long been a favourite place for family visits. We would watch insects and birds in the flowery meadows, the woodland, the reed beds and the water lily filled river. I remember one occasion when we watched and laughed at a group of swans feeding with their bottoms in the air. In more recent years it provided easy walking, and was one of many places we went with the off-road wheelchair that my brother made so that mum could still enjoy the countryside when she couldn’t walk very far.

On the day our father died in the St Elizabeth hospice my brother and I walked from Eastbridge to the sea across the Minsmere levels. It was a glorious sunny day, and I paddled in the sea before we went home to do all the sad but necessary tasks.

waves on a shingle beach, blue sky, distant view of power station
the sea at the end of the Minsmere river, Sizewell B in the distance

So this was somewhere I wanted to swim on my 2016 swim journey to remember my parents and raise money for charities related to their deaths, at places relevant to the family threaded along the A12 Road. Round up and charity info in post:  A12 swim journey June 2016: I did it!

I had my first swim in the Minsmere River on Monday 9 May. I got in where the Environment Agency had helpfully cut down the nettles, and swam down the river and under the bridge from which we had so often looked at dragonflies. The water was amazingly warm for early May, and I swam quietly alongside a sedge warbler that was hopping about and keeping pace with me in the reeds – the sort of special experience you can get when you swim outdoors.

reed lined river seen from water level, bridge in the distance
swimming in the Minsmere river

I did worry that somebody might see me from the bridge and complain that what I was doing wasn’t appropriate in such a rich wildlife area. So when I heard a car stop I was relieved that the call from the bank was from someone coming to ask me how warm the water was because they wanted to give it a try. As long as it is done quietly and respectfully I see no reason not to swim here, and I’m looking forward to doing it again on my swim journey.

Eastbridge is a lovely village, now isolated but originally a favourite stopping place for drovers and smugglers. It has a popular pub that keeps tradition going with folk music on Thursday evenings (www.theeelsfootinn.co.uk) and other events, including music on Sunday 5 June 3 pm, the day after my swim.

It would be a lovely place to camp, with two member only sites, one next to the pub and one nearby (www.theeelsfootinn.co.uk/caravan.php; www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/suffolk/nrleiston/eastbridgefarmcampsite). There are numerous possible walks, including through the RSPB Minsmere bird reserve (https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/minsmere/)

2016 poster to protect Eastbridge (text reads “Don’t spoil this special place: no campus for Sizewell C here”; mum in wheelchair and my brother pushing in front of tree
2016 poster; mum with my brother on the woodland track

However, this lovely peaceful village is under threat from a totally inappropriate industrial town for 3,000 construction workers for Sizewell C power station that it is proposed to build 300 yards from Eastbridge. Read more and support the campaign opposing this https://stopsizewellc.org/.

In more positive recent developments, a stained glass sculpture has been placed in the chapel past which we walked the day our father died, visited with the artist by the R4 Ramblings programme.

reed edged river with water lily leaves stretches away to a line of poplars, summer
the view from the bridge looking downstream

Read about the June A12 swim journey:  A12 swim journey June 2016: I did it!

And see also A12 swim journey 2016: 33 FB POSTS and Swim Journey 2016 Day 1 places and significance