The long weekend off we had planned turned out to be disappointing,on Friday I had my first job interview for sometime with a marketing company.The MD talked the talk about his fabulous company,then offered commission only work 6 days a week 10 hours a day, door to door canvassing.After the interview I had a taster half day on saturday before terminating it at lunchtime,which mean another day was ruined. Sunday was a little better but cloudy,going over to Arcadians for a few hours before driving down to Southend to have lunch then returning home around 6. So it was left to Monday to rescue the short break,which I’m glad to say it did with ease. Wanting to get out of Chelmsford we headed North East away from the Tour De France and the road closures into Suffolk then along the A12 towards Southwold. On our travels we’ve been to many coastal areas in Norfolk,Suffolk,Essex and Kent and as we don’t have long holidays I like exploring places I’ve not yet been to. We stopped briefly in Southwold before moving on to a small village on the coast called Kessingland.
Kessingland is a large village in the Waveney District of the English county of Suffolk. It is located around 4 miles south of Lowestoft. It is of interest to archaeologists as Palaeolithic and Neolithic implements have been found here,the remains of an ancient forest lie buried on the seabed.There has been a settlement here since Palaeolithic times. Between the Hundred River and Latmer Dam there was once a large estuary which was used by the Vikings and Romans.The village comprised two separate communities: the “beach” and the “street” and it was not until the 1960s that more housing united the village into a single community. The population is little over 4,000 – though this can double due to the holiday-makers in the many chalets and holiday villages in the area
St Edmund’s church is one of the finest in the region. With an imposing tower 300-foot (91 m) it was built in 1436 for the Franscicans of London. The tower, built like many coastal Churches to act as a beacon by ships out at sea, constitutes the majority of the medieval structure, the rest having been rebuilt in the ensuing centuries.
Sir H. Rider Haggard, novelist, was born in Bradenham, and later in his life spent his summers at Kessingland in a cliff-top house called the Grange. He was visited here by his friend Rudyard Kipling. In a letter to Haggard dated 20 July 1912, his daughter Lillias documented a sighting of a Sea Serpent off the coast of Kessingland: “we are convinced we saw a sea serpent!I happened to look up when I was sitting on the lawn, and saw what looked like a thin, dark line with a blob at one end, shooting through the water at such a terrific speed it hardly seemed likely that anything alive could go at such a pace…I suppose it was about 60 feet long.” The letter was printed in the Eastern Daily Press.
We stopped for an ice cream and quickly decided that there was too much going on and we’d head for the quieter village of Covehithe a couple of miles down the coast.Covehithe is a hamlet and civil parish in the Waveney district. It lies on the North Sea coast around 4 miles north of Southwold and 7 miles south of Lowestoft. Neighbouring settlements include Benacre, South Cove and Frostenden.The coastline in the Covehithe area suffers from the highest rate of erosion in the UK,and the settlement has suffered significant loss of land and buildings in the past.
A possible section of Roman road has been discovered in the parish which, along with pottery finds and a possible Roman enclosure, suggests that the area was inhabited in the Roman period.Anglo-Saxon remains, including a possible cemetery and evidence of sunken feature buildings, have been found in the area around St Andrew’s church and suggest habitation from the post Roman period.In the Middle Ages Covehithe prospered as a small town and during the reign of Edward I was granted a fair on the feast day of St Andrew. It takes its modern name from the de Cove family who held land there at that time, and the fact that it had a hithe, or quay, for loading and unloading small vessels.
By the 17th Century however it had fallen victim, like nearby Dunwich, to coastal erosion. The large church of St Andrew, which had been built on the back of its wealth, was largely pulled down, although its tall tower remains, and a smaller church was erected amongst the ruins in 1672.Fishing was a key industry in Covehithe, especially for herring.There is also archaeological evidence of the linen industry having been carried out at Covehithe until the 18th century.In 1910 Peter Ditchfield wrote : “At Covehithe, on the Suffolk coast, there has been the greatest loss of land. In 1887 sixty feet was claimed by the sea, and in ten years (1878-87) the loss was at the rate of over eighteen feet a year. In 1895 another heavy loss occurred between Southwold and Covehithe and a new cove formed.”Erosion caused the coastline at Covehithe to retreat more than 500 metres between the 1830s and 2001, according to contemporary Ordnance Survey maps. This can be seen most obviously on the sand cliffs above the beach where the road running from the church simply falls away down onto the beach. The only recorded pub within the village, The Anchor public house, had closed by 1882.
During World War I Covehithe airfield, a night-landing ground, was operated from 1915 to 1919 by the Royal Naval Air Service as a satellite station for RNS Great Yarmouth. The airfield, covering 33 hectares (82 acres) and equipped with searchlights and paraffin lights for night landing, was used for anti-Zeppelin patrols by the Number 73 Wing.In 1918 the station was transferred to 273 Squadron of No. 4 Group RAF which flew DH9, DH4 and Sopwith Camel aircraft from the site.The Covehithe airfield was closed in 1919, its land returned to agricultural use.
The beach is a wonderful sandy beach which is accessible via a footpath just before the church. We passed the pig farm “oink oink” through the heather to emerge onto the beach just by the salt marshes.Walking up the beach back towards the village we took advantage of the remoteness and stripped off for a while and enjoyed the sunshine and the sea. The beach is now not accessible from the road and as one can see in photos from other sources the road has just crumbled into the sea. Covehithe is another of the east coasts hidden gems along with Holkham, Sea Palling,Winterton and Blakeney.