FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Ferry to Felixstowe

Posted in England, Felixstowe, Harwich by folkestonejack on July 11, 2015

It has been some thirty-one years since I last boarded a ferry in Harwich, but the ship I was boarding today was not bound for the continent but instead a rather wonderful stretch of the Suffolk coastline.

The Harwich Harbour Foot Ferry

The Harwich Harbour Foot Ferry

The Harwich Harbour Foot Ferry first began operating from Harwich in July 1912, offering an all year round service across the waters of the estuary to Felixstowe Dock with a two year old passenger launch named Pinmill which plyed the route until 1925 (although services were suspended during the First World War, with Pinmill serving as a Royal Navy launch for this time). The longest serving vessel on the route was MV Brightlingsea, which carried passengers on the route from 1925 until 1992.

The current operation uses a Rotork sea truck to transport 12 passengers at a time between Ha’penny Pier (Harwich), Shotley Point Marina and Landguard Fort (Felixstowe). It is an interesting vessel in its own right, an evolution of an early invention of Sir James Dyson (and others) which was designed to transport goods where no jetty was available (it comes into its own on this route with the shingle beach landing at Landguard Fort).

The service currently runs from Easter until the end of September, providing a valuable connection to the local communities which is used by around 14,000 passengers each year. Although the service came under threat of closure earlier this year, new owners have since arrived to save the day.

It’s a marvellous fifteen minute ride between Harwich and Landguard Fort, though it was pretty full on every crossing I saw so it’s worth making a booking to make sure you can get on board. I took the 10.15 departure and marvelled as we followed a late sailing Stena Britannica out of port before ducking across to Landguard. The trip offers wonderful views of Harwich and the commercial port at Felixstowe, as well as the occasional spray of seawater to wake you up!

A somewhat larger ferry!

A somewhat larger ferry!

I must admit that I felt slightly guilty at leaving behind the delights of Harwich, particularly as they were so tantalisingly set out by Diamond Geezer earlier this year, but figure I will be back to take a closer look before too long! The destination in my sights today was Landguard Fort, another of the many remarkable English Heritage properties, of which more anon.