If you don’t go outside, what’s the point of winter?
Charles Wendell Townsend, M.D. was attracted by the natural beauty of Ipswich. He built a summer house overlooking a wide expanse of salt marsh with open sea to the east. From here he wrote a number of books, including Beach Grass, Sand Dunes and Salt Marshes, and the Birds of Essex County.
The “Great Dune” at the end of Castle Neck has disappeared, the point is retreating, and the opening to Essex Bay between Castle Neck and Wingaersheek Beach has widened.
Symonds Epes bought a large tract in 1726 and built a substantial farm and orchards at Wigwam Hill, named for a group of destitute Indians who briefly camped there. The protecting pitch pines were later cut for lumber, and the farm became a large dune.
The Crane Estate has been closed by the Trustees because of Covid-19, but Crane Beach, Steep Hill Beach and Castle Neck are open to residents of Ipswich with a Crane Beach sticker Friday – Sunday.
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Crane Beach belongs to the Trustees of Reservations and is part of the historic Crane Estate. The property includes Crane Castle, miles of shoreline, and over 5 miles of marked trails through the dunes at Castle Neck and Steep Hill Beach, open year-round.
Crane Beach and all of Castle Neck are protected by the Trustees of Reservations. Pitch pine and scrub oak rise from the masses of marsh grass, sage green hudsonia and dune lichen lining the trails that wind through the dunes.
After weeks of rain and a record-breaking cold spell, this was a beautiful day for a hike at Castle Neck, returning along Crane Beach.