Enjoy Our Infamous Kessingland Celebrity Walk, the Rider Haggard / Kipling Walking Route in Kessingland, Suffolk
It may be hard to believe, but Kessingland has been home to some famous faces, and thanks to its picturesque stony beaches has held the imagination of some of Britain’s greatest literary figures. With this in mind, we’ve come up with a walk that will bring you a little closer to Kessingland’s celebrity history.
Kessingland’s best known former resident was undoubtedly H. Rider Haggard, the best-selling author of adventure tales including King Solomon’s Mines and Allan Quatermain, who lived in the village at the turn of the 19th Century. His cliff-top house, the Grange, has been demolished due to erosion, but our walk begins near the site, on the beach at the end of Rider Haggard Lane. (1)
This beach is where Haggard would come to collect his thoughts, and where he was often joined by his friend and collaborator Rudyard Kipling, the world famous author of The Just-So Stories, Kim and The Jungle Book.
Kipling and his daughter Lillias were looking down on this beach from the Grange in 1912 when they glimpsed what they thought was a sea serpent. In a letter to Haggard, Lillias said that “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.”
So keep an eye out and maybe you can see this terrifying beast for yourself!
The Rider Haggard / Kipling Walking Route in Kessingland
Walking south, you’ll see some of Kessingland’s famous small fishing boats, most of which are sadly out of service, but which once brought herring and other sea fish to the village and provided most of the local industry. (2)
This part of the beach was immortalised by the German writer W.G. Sebald, who, in his travel book The Rings of Saturn described the Kessingland fishermen as “the last stragglers of some nomadic people…at the outermost limit of the earth, in expectation of the miracle longed for since time immemorial, the miracle which would justify all their erstwhile privations and wanderings.”
Once you’ve taken in the beauty of Kessinglan Beach, walk south and into the village along Church Road, then take a right along Green Lane. This road was once part of the main mail coach route through Kessingland, and stories of Highwaymen lurking in the bushes abounded in Haggard’s day.
Keep walking along Green Lane and you’ll pass by Kessingland’s Sunrise Holiday Park. On your left you’ll see Rider Haggard Lane, which was named for the author, and which marks the start and finish of this walk. (3)