Cast off from the Butt and Oyster Pub, one of the prettiest o Suffolk’s estuaries, immortalised as the setting of “We didn’t mean to go to sea” in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, it’s a place made for messing around in boats.
Pin Mill and The River Orwell
The walk follows the shore line at the beginning and end and loops inland through the ground of Palladian Woolverstone Hall, described in 1867 as “a boundless panorama of satisfying beauty”.
Pin Mill and the Butt and Oyster
From the car park, head down to the waterfront, and turn right in front of the pub. If the tide is too high go back up the lane and take the footpath of the Sour and Orwell walk on the left.
Follow the shore line until you reach the Riverside Clamp house, where you need to turn right and follow the farm track across arable land for around 1.5 km.
After crossing the Pin Mill road, continue along Hollow Lane, past St Andrews Church which was rebuilt twice!, once in the 1860’s and then again in 1950’s after being destroyed by a V2 rocket n 1944.
200 m into Collimer Close, take the footpath on the left, (Church Lane) to skirt the edge of the village and head back out into open countryside.
After 500 m turn right into Richardson’s Lane, past Park Cottages and then across the fields into the Stately parkland of Woolverstone Park, which is a beautiful setting for the magnificent grade 1 listed Woolverstone Hall, which is now the home of Ipswich Girls High School.
Built in 1776, Woolverstone Hall is a Grade I listed building set in 80 acres of parkland on the banks of the River Orwell. It is widely thought of as one of the finest examples of Palladian architecture in England.
Berners purchased the estate in 1773 and engaged architect John Johnson to build his gentleman’s country residence. The site of the hall is typical of the 18th Century interest in the surrounding landscape and appreciation of beautiful views and vistas. A grand driveway leads guests to the front of the hall, while the rear of the building overlooks the River Orwell, with views both down and upstream towards Ipswich, thanks to the curved structure.
Unlike many other 18th Century houses of note, Woolverstone Hall is as attractive from the back, as it is from the front, perhaps owing to the classic Palladian design; consisting of a central block which originally housed the main living quarters, flanked by two smaller wings which were added in 1823.
There is one unusual feature of note – the inclusion of several sculptures of monkeys…
In the 1800s, there were some resident pet monkeys on the Woolverstone estate. One night there was a fire and the monkeys made such a noise, they woke the household, thus saving many lives. As a result stone monkeys were placed on the gates at the entrance and feature throughout the park. To this day you will see features nodding to the tale of the monkeys!
1930 – PRESENT DAY
In 1930s, the Woolverstone estate was sold to Lord Nuffield, as an investment for Oxford University. Then, during the Second World War it was requisitioned as a naval training establishment. Becoming HMS Woolverstone, a shore-based naval station. Dummy landing crafts were made there as part of the deceptions that went on around D-Day.
After the war, in 1950, the London County Council took it over as a boys’ boarding School thus beginning Woolverstone’s heritage as a school. In 1992 it was sold to Ipswich High School who moved to Woolverstone from central Ipswich. With the move to Woolverstone Hall, upgrades to the facilities followed, with the opening of both a new sports hall and a new theatre complex in June 1993.
St Michael’s and All Angels Church
Head Straight across the parkland to St Michael’s and All Angles Church, which has been restored and expanded by the wealthy Berners family, and has resulted in several stained-glass windows being dedicated to them, and with a chancel rebuilt by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860’s.
Cross the adjacent park and turn right down the approach lane to the Royal Harwich Yacht Club.
The Final Stretch
The final stretch of the walk is back along the Orwell, head right which goes in front of the yacht club before venturing into the waterside woods of alder and oak where you can see glimpses of the Butt and Oyster pub in the distant and the wading birds on the salt marsh.
Cross the fields and turn left after the boat yard, following the lane past the cottages, back to Pin Mill.