In a county like Suffolk, that has such a long coastline, its not surprising there is so many places to take to the water. Desperate to try another water related activity – one a little calmer, yet still as physically demanding – I set off on a ‘peaceful’ canoeing cruise along the Alde. Battling the wild waters of the sea every time is a tad too much, don’t you think?
Iken Canoe, situated between Snape and Aldeburgh, on the edge of the estuary, wont let you head out solo, and for very good reason. Paddling a canoe along the winding river is tough, especially up stream. So imagine trying to do that whilst steering and while trying to avoid the sudden mud banks that creep up on you out of nowhere and leave you pretty much beached…
When you finally stumble upon the green boat house of Iken Canoe (theres a short forest walk from the car park and you wouldn’t be blamed for taking a wrong turn), you’ll see the variety of canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards available for hire, to those interested in exploring this wonderful stretch of river.
From the jetty, why not take on the challenge of rowing upstream towards Snape? On a good day this should take no longer than an hour, but against the tide and the wind it’s not an easy ask. Once we finally made it to the bridge by Snape Maltings, with many people peering over to see what all the commotion was about (it’s a peaceful area of the country, but when manoeuvring doesn’t go to plan, things can get vocal), we turned ourselves around and took a more leisurely approach to our way back.
Whether you decide to discover the creeks and flood waters of the river, or gently drift with the tide downstream – whatever your plan of attack, there’ll be plenty of you (and your crew) to see. The banks of the river are brimming with a multitude of wading birds, and if you venture further downstream from the dock, often spotted basking in the mud are a family of seals. We thought these would be an ‘if you’re lucky’ spot, but no, it’s pretty much guaranteed. If you keep your eyes pealed, you may even be able to spot an elusive otter or two.