We left the campsite and walked a short distance up the A154 to cross the railway. This entailed going through a few locked gates that theoretically can only be opened by telephoning the signalman who opens each gate in turn electronically. We contacted the guard for the first gate and after a short delay while a train passed he opened it and we moved on to the second. We tried the gate and it opened and we waltzed across thinking it was clear and approached the third gate. This was locked and so we contacted the signalman again to say we couldn't get through the third gate and he was surprised we were there because he had not authorised the second gate. It didn't occur to us to check the line at the second, as we thought it was him who had opened it and presumed the line was clear. Although there was no real consequence to the incident it did make us think about how airy-fairy we can be about some things.
Saltmarsh habitat is under threat all over Britain as it is degraded by the constant effect of tides on its fringes. As the saltmarsh diminishes the sea can reach the mainland which it then begins to undermine. In this sense the saltmarsh is not only a wonderful habitat for plant, bird and invertebrate life but also an important element in the defences against the sea. Here on the Rivers Stour & Orwell it is no different and it has been estimated that the saltmarsh on the River Stour (which joins the River Orwell from Shotley Gate, just opposite Felixstowe) decreased 59% between 1973 and 1997, and on the River Orwell in the same period by 46%. Along the banks of the Orwell and the Stour various measures are being taken to manage this delicate habitat more sustainably including spreading the material removed from the main channel by dredging.
A last little morsel of beauty for us was this garden with scattered, single-standing, pastel coloured tulips, gently swaying in the breeze. There were not many of them, but having avoided planting them in large clumps the gardener had added another layer of delicacy to them and seeing them against the backdrop of white tree blossom was a delight and a fitting end to a fine day of riverbank walking.