The Trust has identified and prioritised a programme of short-, medium- and long-term projects, in addition to our routine maintenance and conservation. These projects are working towards upgrading the long distance footpath and bringing limited Navigation back in sections along the river for the enjoyment of the wider community. Our work will provide enormous recreational, leisure and educational benefits, which along with the associated environmental protection and enhancement, will make our endeavours a long-lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy. Read the Trust’s 16 page Vision document here.
Our short term restoration plans are divided between Footpath and river restoration work:
Tow Path Restoration
There are still many areas where the path deviates away from the river and where walkers loose sight of the river. The Trust aim to restore as much of the original tow path route as possible, so that the path can run directly alongside the river.
The aim is to improve the footpath between Ipswich and Stowmarket, with the help of other organisations where possible, to enrich the overall walking experience that a riverside walk should give. Many parts of the current footpath have nettle, Himalayan Balsam and weed growth between the path and the river, which in the height of summer grow above head height, blocking views and making sections of the path impassable, and thus reducing the walking experience of a riverside walk. A towpath adjacent to the river will also restrict unwanted Himalayan Balsam which is gradually eroding the river bank.
Suffolk Council are responsible for maintaining the footpath, they make two or three cuts per year. The Trust regularly help out further between Bramford and Badley Lock (above Needham Market) and plan to expand further. The footpath needs a trim once per month for walkers to enjoy a stroll in shorts without being stung by nettles.
Our Short / medium Term plan involves the restoration of navigation between Baylham Lock and Bosmere Lock at Needham Market allowing the Trust to run an electric propelled trip boat between the two popular areas, both of which attract thousands of visitors per year.
Restoring navigation will facilitate canoeing, paddle boarding and other water leisure activities including improved fishing and possibly swimming. There are many steps in the process towards navigational restoration. An ecological scoping study has already determined many of the Biodiversity enhancements that can be achieved with navigation. But a full feasibility study will need to be undertaken to establish all the implications and costs involved, including installing lock gates at Creeting and Pipps Ford.
Once navigation is restored between Baylham and Needham Market, further expansion could be made by installing lock gates at Bosmere to allow navigation to Needham lock / Hawkes Mill. Installing lock gates at Baylham would allow navigation to Shamford Lock, then progressing slowly to Blakenham and Claydon.
Full Restoration of the Ipswich to Stowmarket Navigation
These short term projects are working towards eventually bringing further sections of Navigation back into use for the enjoyment of the wider community.
Our work will provide enormous recreational, leisure and educational benefits, which along with the associated environmental protection and enhancement, will make our endeavours a long-lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.