Walk off those Easter eggs!

TODAY is the day to plan when you will get out to walk off the calories from all those Easter eggs! A new book offers ideas on routes to try, and here's our favourite by the seaside.

By Tracey Sparling

TODAY is the day to plan when you will get out to walk off the calories from all those Easter eggs! A new book offers ideas on routes to try, and here's our favourite by the seaside. By features editor TRACEY SPARLING.

A GOOD walk and a nice lunch - whatever time of year - are big attractions for around half of Britain's beachgoers, according to new research.

Anti-litter group Keep Britain Tidy, which is publishing a list of the country's cleanest rural beaches including Felixstowe and Aldeburgh, said young and old can get fit and beat stress beside the sea.

A&E doctor and Radio One broadcaster Mark Hamilton, who is backing the call to get out and walk, said: "The best way to start getting healthy is to do ten to 15 minutes light exercise a day, and a brisk walk can improve lung capacity and help the heart work more effectively.

"With around five million people a year suffering from anxiety, the psychological benefits of being in quiet surroundings are also important."

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Alan Woods, chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy, said: "The great strength of our coastline is that it has so many different things to offer. But while people visit it for a myriad of different reasons they insist on good facilities and clean sands when they get there - and that's just what they'll get at our recommended beaches.'

The recommended rural beaches have clean sands, proper access, clean toilets and good health and safety provision. The water has been assessed by the Environment Agency and is clean enough for a paddle.

Mr Woods, who is urging those who manage the resorts to start promoting the rural and resort beaches with more confidence, added: "I think we have banished the tacky image of dirty sands, clapped-out amenities and polluted water to the dustbin of history - and people are genuinely enjoying our coastline again.

"But we need to celebrate the diversity of our seaside more aggressively and push it as a place where you can enjoy everything from a morning surf, to a lively night out on the town.

"That is why we are developing a new award, which will signpost visitors to the kind of beach they're looking for. And I have no doubt that many of those we are celebrating as rural havens today, will feature prominently when we announce them next summer.'

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The news comes as The Evening Star continues to support Everyday Sport, a Sport England project promoted by Ipswich Borough Council, encouraging us all to fit extra activity in to our daily lives.

A seven-mile walk from Felixstowe Ferry is one of the highlights in the new book Walks into History: Norfolk and Suffolk by John Wilks.

History teacher John from Warwickshire is working his way round the country having already published walking guides to Sussex and Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

He said: “History is all around us, no matter where you walk in East Anglia. More and more people are discovering the pleasure, not only of enjoying a relaxing ramble in the countryside, but also of understanding how the land across which they walk and the buildings they pass have played their part in England's heritage.”

The book has walks of three-and-a-half to seven miles in length, and includes details of where to park and where to get refreshments.

It is published by Countryside Books at £7.99. We have five copies to give away, to the first five names out of the hat on April 21.

To be in with a chance of winning one, send your name, address and phone number on a postcard to Tracey Sparling, Features Editor, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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There is also a new £3.99 guide out called Let's Go With The Children, East Anglia containing ideas on what to do in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Proceeds go to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity. See www.letsgowiththechildren.co.uk

Felixstowe Ferry - Martello Towers and the Threat from Napoleon 1805

How to get there: Felixstowe Ferry is at the end of the road leading north from Felixstowe.

Parking: In the pay & display car park at Felixstowe Ferry.

Map: OS Landranger 169 (GR 329377).

Refreshments: At Felixstowe Ferry are the Victoria Inn (tel 01394 271636) and the Ferry Boat Inn (tel 01394 284203). Both have outdoor seating and offer a range of food and beers.

There is also a café.

ALTHOUGH this walk is quite long, it is very easy underfoot. It starts along the banks of the River Deben and the King's Fleet, a landscape any invading Napoleonic army would have encountered. It then crosses fields, climbing gently to give beautiful views over the river valley. It returns to the coast for a final exhilarating stroll along the sea-wall, passing two fine examples of Martello towers.

The Historical Background

ON the coast near Felixstowe Ferry stand two Martello towers, witness to the threat of invasion posed to this country in the early 19th Century by Napoleon.

In 1802 the Peace Treaty of Amiens ended nine years of war between Britain and revolutionary France. This was only a temporary respite, for 14 months later the war resumed. This time France was led by a far more formidable enemy, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose primary war aim for the next two years was the invasion of England.

Napoleon's obvious invasion route was the short sea crossing from the Pas de Calais to the beaches of Kent, Essex or Suffolk. Here wide beaches were backed by flat fields, ideal countryside for the highly manoeuvrable French army, and London was only a short march away.

Although the first line of defence was the English Navy, there was always the danger that the French fleet would manage to secure the channel for 24 hours, which was all the time that would be necessary for an invasion armada to land Napoleon's Grande Armee on England's shores. Protection of many miles of exposed beaches became of paramount importance, with only limited funds available for the task.

The solution was the Martello tower, a string of brick-built gun-platform cum watch towers built in close proximity to each other all along the coast, providing mutual reinforcement and interlocking fields of fire. No single tower was strong enough to withstand prolonged naval bombardment, but they could repel assault by infantry, and their sheer numbers would ensure devastating firepower against any landing force. The towers would make landings costly in terms of casualties, and just as important, the need to suppress them would buy valuable time for more defenders to arrive from the garrisons around Ipswich and Harwich, and prepare to meet the invaders in the flat, marshy countryside behind the beaches.

The Walk

1 Go to the landward end of the car park, away from the ferry and café and turn right onto the embankment at a finger-post.

There was a ferry across the Deben estuary in the early 19th Century, but by then the river was too silted up to have provided a channel for an invading fleet to penetrate inland. It was anticipated that any invaders would land on the wide beaches to the south of here (where Martello towers were built for defence) and then march inland, aiming initially to the great port of Harwich and beyond that, to London. Today the land is farmland, reclaimed from the sea, but in the 19th Century it would have been much boggier, a marshland criss-crossed with water channels.

Walk along the embankment (flood defences for the River Deben) as it follows the riverbank. Cross a stile and turn left with the embankment. Follow the embankment as it zigzags across the neck of a water channel, before descending steps on your left.

2 Continue ahead, water now on your left.

This stretch of water is called the King's Fleet. Originally it opened into the River Deben and thence into the open sea, and it was here that in 1338 King Edward III assembled a fleet of over 100 ships to carry his army to invade France at the start of the Hundred Years War. Nearly five centuries later it would have served a very different function: to defend England from invasion by the French. If the Napoleonic armies had succeeded in landing on the beaches south of the Deben estuary, the King's Fleet would have been the first natural barrier they encountered as they marched inland. The great strength of the Napoleonic army was its ability to combine the three wings of infantry, cavalry and artillery into one devastating combined attack.

The watery channels across this flat landscape such as King's Fleet would have provided ideal defensive moats. Defenders on the northern side would be protected from frontal attack, and could break up any combined attack trying to cross under fire. The waterway would stop cavalry and artillery from crossing and any infantry who swam the canal would not arrive on the far side with dry powder, and thus fall easy prey to the waiting British.

Follow the gravel track along the side of the King's Fleet for one mile, then turn right with the track, away from the Fleet. Follow the track for a further half mile, until it becomes a tarmac lane at Deben Lodge.

3 Continue along the tarmac lane for quarter of a mile. Opposite where a lane joins from the right, turn left at a finger-post and follow a path across a field. At a line of bushes on the skyline, go through a gap in the hedge at a waymark post. Continue in the same direction down the next field. At the bottom of the slope, turn left onto a wide footpath into trees. Follow the path, soon narrowing, through a strip of woodland and then continue on a clear path to a stile.

Cross the stile and continue across the field, aiming for the left end of a line of trees opposite. At the trees, go half right, with the fence close on your right. In the top corner of the field cross a stile and then a footbridge. Keep ahead, aiming between two trees seen in the mid-distance. At the trees, turn left in the corner of the field and follow the field boundary towards a wood. Just before the woods, turn right at a waymark-post and follow a grassy track towards a hosue on the skyline. Follow a track, surfaced after the house, to join a lane at another house.

4 Maintain your direction along the lane, passing Gulpher Hall. Some 200 yards past the Hall turn sharp right with the lane, at a house named “The Brook”. In another 10 yards turn left into a field (a finger-post is in the hedge on the left, all but hidden). Go up a faint grassy path between two fields. Once over the skyline, keep ahead, aiming for a telegraph pole in front of the wood opposite, and eventually meeting a hedge on your left. Follow the hedge as it bears right. Keep ahead passing farm buildings away to the left. Continue to follow the path, initially with the fence close on your left, towards houses ahead. Go through a barrier onto a road. Cross the road and continue along Ferry Road opposite.

5 Just before the first house on the left, turn left at a finger-post across a field. On reaching a lane maintain your direction. Follow the lane for half a mile to reach a main road. Cross the road and turn left for 100 yards. Where the green link fence on the left ends, bear right at a finger-post and follow a line of waymark posts across the golf course to reach the sea wall. Turn left along the sea wall, soon passing the first Martello tower.

In 1804-05 a line of others was built along the shoreline of England, mostly along the coast from Portsmouth to Folkestone. These were called Martello towers, named after a stone-built tower at Mortella on Corsica. Circular fortified towers had fallen out of fashion by the 16th Century, when the invention of gunpowder made them vulnerable to bombardment, but when Mortella Tower was occupied by pirates and they subsequently held out for two days against the Royal Navy, this wisdom was reassessed.

Almost every Martello tower had the same design (the exception to this being the most northerly tower, just south of Aldeburgh, which is a far more elaborate structure). They were 33 feet tall, with walls between 13 feet wide at the base to six feet wise at parapet level, and slightly elliptical in shape, with the thickest part of the walls to seaward. They were built of brick, and strengthened with lime mortar to withstand bombardment.

Entrance was at first floor level, on the landward side, and there was accommodation for a garrison of 24 men and one officer. Slit windows enabled the beach to be raked with musket fire. On the flat roof of each tower was a gun capable of traversing 360 degrees. This could fire either a 24-pound cannon ball 1,000 yards, which would have caused immense damage to lightly-built landing craft approaching the beaches: or it could fire grape-shot, a canister which would spray between 84 and 232 musket balls up to 350 yards, with devastating effect upon infantry. The towers were built to be 700 to 1,000 yards apart, so that they could command the whole beach with interlocking cannon fire.

The towers were cheap and quick to build, and in total 103 were built at the instruction of Prime Minister Pitt the Younger. The destruction of the French and Spanish navies at Trafalgar in 1805 removed the threat of invasion, and the towers never saw active service. Many were allowed to fall into disrepair during the 19th Century, and some were used for naval target practice and destroyed. In 1940 the surviving towers were repaired and put on a war footing again in the face of threatened German invasion.

Follow the sea wall for quarter of a mile to pass the second tower. Continue along the wall to reach Felixstowe Ferry and the end of the walk.

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