There is something special about St. Saviours Church, Surlingham. The ruins sit on a raised hillock above Church Marsh, looking out across the River Yare to Postwick.
The churchyard is the entirely appropriate last resting place of Ted Ellis. Ted’s weekly EDP articles and radio and television appearances did so much to educate East –Anglians about the wonders of nature on their own doorstep and encouraged people to think about conservation. Next to him, in death as she was in life, are the mortal remains of his much loved wife Phyllis. Their old home, just down-river, at Wheatfen now serves as a nature reserve. Church Marsh has been managed as a reserve since 1984. Together with land at Stumpshaw and Rockland, Church Marsh forms part of the Mid Yare Reserves National Nature Reserves managed by the RSPB.
From the churchyard I watched a Marsh Harrier, hanging low on the wind, quartering the marsh as it searched for its supper. Now, because of Ted’s pioneering work, this bit of God’s creation has been preserved for future generations. My heart sung as I gave thanks for marshes and Marsh Harriers and for conservationists in general and Ted and Phyllis in particular.
For a 2 mile circular walk follow the path as it leads past St. Saviour’s and avoid the temptation to turn off until you come to a metalled road. A left turn here takes you to the river and the Surlingham Ferry public house. Follow the old tow path where there are bird-hides open to the public. Then, after a while, turn left away from the river along a dyke and arrive at the round towered St. Mary’s, Surlingham . St. Mary’s is well worth a visit – historically interesting, well kept, showing signs that it is well prayed in and welcoming to tourists and pilgrims.
From the lych-gate go north and turn right at the corner of the churchyard. St. Saviour’s is down this track and only half a mile away.
St.Mary’s would be the obvious place to start and finish the walk if you came by car. By boat the moorings at Surlingham Ferry are best.
St. Mary’s Surlingham is a participant in the Open Churches project and is listed in the Church Staithe Guide.