The Suffolk Coast is well known for being a place for walkers and cyclists. Gorgeous heather, dramatic coastal views, pretty villages, and golden fields await the explorer, along with rivers, streams and tributaries.
They undoubtedly add to the character of the region, but while some are traversable by bridge, or even a long stride, others such as the River Alde require a long diversion to the nearest road bridge. At least it would, were it not for the four foot ferries of The Suffolk Coast.
Every year these unsung heroes of The Suffolk Coast enable hundreds of walkers and cyclists to explore the region, and it’s estimated that by taking the four ferries you save over 75 miles of travel on the inland roads.
This handy guide contains information and contact details for the four foot ferries - it is advised you visit their websites or get in touch before visiting: https://www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/2023-Foot-Ferries-Leaflet.pdf
The River Blyth finishes its long journey to the sea by widening into a sixty metre channel in between Southwold and Walberswick. To cross it by road bridge requires a nine mile diversion, but thanks to a small rowing boat, people, bicycles and dogs can reach the other side in about two minutes for a nominal fee of 90p per person. The crossing was made by rowing boat until 1885 when a floating bridge chain ferry was started, initially hand-cranked before being replaced by a steam ferry.
Improvements to the harbour in 1942 made operation of the steam ferry too difficult, so the rowing boat made its return to service and thus it has been ever since. The service is run everyday from 10am - 5pm from April to the end of October and at weekends until New Year.
For more information and timetables visit http://www.walberswickferry.com/
Butley Ferry is rowed by volunteers across Butley Creek between Orford and Butley. It’s an optional (but very enjoyable) link on the Suffolk Coast Path, and Regional Cycle Route 41. Operating on weekends and Bank Holidays between Easter and October, it’s said to be the smallest ferry in Europe, so small that it can’t even take tandems!
Telephone: 07913 672499 (manned during ferry opening hours)
Website: butleyferry.org Message; m.me/thebutleyferry
Felixstowe to Bawdsey Ferry
Further south the River Deben separates Bawdsey and Felixstowe Ferry, a small fishing hamlet named for the service that has transported people across the water for centuries. The Felixstowe to Bawdsey Ferry also runs from Easter until October and again is an optional part of the Suffolk Coast Path and Regional Cycle Route 41. Unlike its northern counterparts, this ferry is a powered vessel, and also acts as a water taxi, taking boat owners to their yachts moored further out.
The ferry runs from:
- Good Friday until 30th April - Weekends only between 10am and 5pm
- 1st May until 30th September – Daily between 10am and 5pm
- 1st – 31st October – Weekends only between 10am and 5pm
The above are all dependent on the weather.
These may change depending on covid restrictions in this area. Social distancing measures and face coverings will be mandatory until Covid-19 restrictions change.
Customers can call the office 01394 282173 Monday to Friday between 0900 and 1630 hrs, or the ferry man direct on 07709 411511 for daily updates when the ferry is operational.
Harwich Harbour Ferry
At the southernmost point of Suffolk the Stour and the Orwell meet, acting as the boundary between Harwich in Essex and Shotley and Felixstowe in Suffolk. Shuttling between these three towns is the Harwich Harbour ferry. The bright yellow boat carries up to 58 passengers and makes its journeys amongst the towering passenger and container ships coming in to the Ports of Felixstowe and Harwich between Easter and the end of September.
For more information and timetable visit https://www.harwichharbourferry.com/timetables
The ferry services are located in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), one of Britain’s finest landscapes. The AONB covers 155 square miles and receives special protection because of its outstanding landscape, heritage and wildlife. Perfect for exploring!
There are plenty of ways to explore on water along the rivers and Suffolk's coast;
Sailing Barge Victor runs from Ipswich Waterfront, along with the Allen Gardiner River Cruise Restaurant and Orwell Lady River Cruises, Iken Canoes, Suffolk River Trips in Snape, Orford and Woodbridge, Waveney River Tours operates from Oulton Broad, along with Oulton Broad Dayboats and Hippersons Boatyard for Day boats, canoes, kayaks and bikes all available to hire on the southern reach of the Norfolk Broads in Beccles, Deben Boat Trips from the beautiful Waldringfield Quay and of course the Lady Florence in Orford.
You can find out more about all of these great ways to explore below.