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Sep 2016

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We're powering down a peninsula in South Suffolk for no other reason than there looks to be nothing at the end of it to have a right good look at. There might just be some time before that rain arrives at Bawdsey Quay, the end of an unnamed, white track without any hint of grey[1] just a coastal, windswept wilderness.

Except it's not because there's quite a queue at the quay for the ferry, the kids are doing some 'crabbing' and you'll have to head back to the picnic area to park. What with the picnickers, fisherfolk and cyclists, this place isn't even remotely remote. It's like Center Parcs™ down here!

[1] Not sky-wise but buildings-wise on page 35 of the tatty AA™ road atlas, which is still the preferred method of navigation in these wheels.

There are some buildings down here and some of them are rather fancy.

Looks like they were part of some large estate or something but more on that in a minute.

  Boathouse Café (Ferry Road)

Seemingly standard fayre that's part of the Yacht Club and is now where Google™ Maps thinks it is.

The view across the River Deben is to Felixstowe but not the industrial skyline of the UK's largest container port nor the seaside resort that still retains some of the Edwardian charm, probably.

No, the fishing village of Felixstowe Ferry and the Martello tower built, of course, in the early 1800s to help stop Napoleon including England in his European vacation plans.

To get there by car will take 40 minutes via Woodbridge. The seasonal, volunteer-run foot ferry will get you there in about four and those cyclists are in luck, unlike any passing Dutch couples. They don't take tandems, apparently.

There's a shingle-sapping stretch of the  Suffolk Coast Path to be done from the quay although there's a waterproofed message about an eroded footpath or something.

Ignoring the warning, pass the rusty boatyard on the left then through some bushes to the beach.

Sea kale lends an unusual-looking element to the landscape but it's still not so remote for fisherfolk not to think it worth the effort.

It's said that  Hermann Göring had a fondness for the seaside town of Hythe in Kent and had plans to live there when the Luftwaffe won and Germany invaded.

It's not known if 'Little Boney' had a similar fondness for Felixstowe but they weren't taking any chances here with eight Martello towers on this stretch of coast. This one is a different one and is now a hazard on Felixstowe Ferry's golf course.

Hole-in-one? Probably. They're both over 200 years old you know.

William Quilter decided in 1886 that the family home needed at least 20 bedrooms and To the Bawdsey Manor was born.

It's part of that large estate, you see, and the gardens were once tended by  Percy Thrower's dad, no less. It wasn't in the family for long and was snapped up by the Ministry of Defence[1] in the 1930s.

Like a coastal  Bletchley Park, this was home to some secretive and pioneering radar research. Without this work, it's said the Luftwaffe would have won with Göring's great-grandkids still enjoying Fisch und Chips in Kent.

Until September 2016 it was a private school for posh, international boarders. It's since been sold and now runs as an 'Outdoor Education Provider' or school camp in a big, scary house if you'd rather.

You can get a closer look along the path by the shoreline, at least you can when it hasn't been washed away. Ah! So that's what that waterproofed warning was.

[1] If this stuff is your thing, it's known that you know it was the Air Ministry back then.

The £5M asking price presumably included these functional looking lodgings back near the quay although they'll have to bin the bunk beds to rent out at Center Parcs™ rates.

Because of the rain, there's no real reason to stop on the way back out at Bawdsey itself but some time to rue a missed opportunity. It's too late now to organise a whip-round to buy Bawdsey Manor and convert it to a... Napoleon-themed theme park... Napoleland[1]?

Ironic, really, because if he had invaded, he wouldn't have been able to enjoy it...

Sorry son, you have to be this tall to ride.

[1]  Somebody else seems to have had the same idea with just as much success.

  Bawdsey Radar Trust (Bawdsey Manor)

The MOD still have a presence here and the old transmission block near the village is a visitor attraction. They're not nearly so secretive of the radar, these days, although these days are largely Thursdays and Sundays only for entrance to the museum.