21 of the best Suffolk walks to celebrate National Walking Month
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With the evenings getting lighter, now is the perfect time to throw on your hiking boots and head out for a long, relaxing ramble.
To celebrate National Walking Month, here’s some of the best walking routes across Suffolk.
Suffolk Walking Festival
Kicking off this list is the Suffolk Walking Festival, which has gone digital this year due to the ongoing pandemic.
Running from May 22 to May 31, a different walk will be featured on its website daily, alongside Suffolk trivia, activity sheets, video and audio.
To find out more, visit the festival’s website.
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One of Suffolk’s most beautiful nature reserves, Dunwich Heath is a wonderful place to explore with the whole family.
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Under the care of the National Trust, you’re bound to catch sight of some fascinating flora and fauna, including deer, adders, nightjars and slowworms.
If you fancy a bite to eat, the on-site Coastguard Cottages Tea Room is open every day between 10am and 5pm, serving a range of takeaway hot and cold drinks, alongside light snacks.
Its car park is open between 9am and 6pm, and dog are required to be kept on a lead to protect wildlife. Toilets are also open between 9am and 6pm, and are closed during lunchtime for cleaning.
Nestled deep in the heart of one of the county’s most awe-inspiring forests is the Thetford Forest Fir Trail.
Measuring 3.5 miles in length, this circular route will take you through a variety of fir trees and wildlife habitats. Be sure to keep an eye out for some of the deer, hares and rare birds that dwell within. Dog-friendly, this ramble should only take you around an hour and a half.
This reservoir is surrounded by walking routes galore - from shorter strolls to a full eight-mile ramble, all types of hikers are catered for. Dogs are welcome, but are asked to be kept on a lead at all times.
A three-mile nature walk has been specially designed, ensuring visitors have the best opportunity to see the ample wildlife at Alton Water. The trail passes key wildlife hotspots including woodland areas, a butterfly garden, a wildflower meadow, ponds and bird hides.
Alton Water is open between 7.30am and 8pm in the summer months. Toilets are currently open, as is the on-site café, offering takeaway food and drinks.
Hadleigh Railway Walk
Explore the railway tracks of years gone by embarking upon this two-mile walking route. While the physical tracks themselves are gone, the trackbed remains and is hugely popular with ramblers, cyclists and dog walkers alike.
The path begins from the original station building in Hadleigh and will take you to Raydon Wood station via towering trees that line the route. Simply loop around to make this two-mile route a four-mile circular walk.
The Anglo-Saxon walking trail
A must-do for any avid historian, the recently-unveiled seven-mile walking trail near Sutton Hoo explores Suffolk’s role at "the heart of East Anglian royal power".
Dubbed ‘In The Footsteps of Kings’, the route will take ramblers through Rendlesham and the Deben Valley, where walkers can learn more about Anglo-Saxon history in the area thanks to signs along the way.
The route takes roughly three to four hours, and a map can be downloaded here.
The location of ‘Britain’s Roswell’, Rendlesham Forest is home to a number of paths, including the UFO trail – site of the famous incident which took place over 40 years ago. In addition, there are two circular walks, one of which is suitable for walkers of all ages and abilities.
Please note that cyclists also share these same routes, so be sure to keep an eye for any bikers whizzing past.
Within the forest are picnic tables, play areas, toilets and a café offering takeaway food and drinks.
Melton to Woodbridge
Starting from Wilford Bridge in Melton, this hour-long route will take you past Woodbridge Tide Mill along the River Deben, offering you the chance to immerse yourself in an abundance of wildlife and beautiful countryside.
Just two miles in length, discover peaceful woodland and heathland by traversing this circular route that goes along a peaceful stretch of the River Orwell. Simply set off from the car park at the Butt and Oyster pub, following the path along the banks of the river before turning back around.
A number of eye-catching boat wrecks are dotted along the water, having been reclaimed by the forces of nature. Simply a sight to behold.
Dog-friendly, this walk should only take you around an hour and a half.
Clare and Cavendish
Measuring 7.5 miles in length, the Clare and Cavendish trail allows you to explore two of Suffolk’s iconic Wool Towns, uncovering their quaint architecture and peaceful farmland as you make your way between the settlements.
Sites you’re bound to see as you make your way through include a number of churches, Clare Castle, and a number of cafes, pubs and shops to help you break up the day.
Situated in the south of the county is the affectionately-dubbed ‘Constable Country’. Home to rolling countryside and beautiful scenery galore, it’s no surprise that artists such as John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough were so inspired by this part of the world.
To walk in their footsteps, why not set off from Flatford Mill? Simply head towards Willy Lott’s Cottage, the River Stour and back along the Stour Valley path for a truly quintessential day out.
Simply breathtaking, Covehithe beach near Beccles is one of the country’s most beautiful spots. Popular with fossil hunters, birdwatchers and walkers alike, you’ll be spoilt for space as you make your way along this wide, sandy stretch of coast.
Covehithe is only accessible by foot or bike, and parking is available at nearby St Andrew’s Church, which is opposite the beach. Due to its remote nature, there are no toilets or café facilities nearby, so be sure to bring refreshments with you.
If it’s vast expanses of greenery you’re after, then Hardwick Heath in Bury St Edmunds is the place for you. This 55-acre park is comprised of a mixture of wooded paths and fields – ideal for any dog walkers who want to let their pooch off the lead.
Facilities nearby include toilets, a picnic area and a car park.
The Orford Heritage trail
Breathe in that salty sea air this summer as you make your way down The Orford Heritage trail. Also known as the ‘Kings and Sailors’ route, this relaxed 5.5-mile ramble starts in the village of Orford, taking you along the River Alde before you head inland towards Sudbourne and back to Orford.
For anyone who’s worked up an appetite along the way, there’s two Adnams pubs en route.
Avid birdwatchers – this one’s for you. RSPB Minsmere is home to three walking trails, all of which will guarantee you sight of some incredible winged friends this summer.
Embark upon either the one-mile woodland trail, the 1.5-mile island mere trail or the two-mile coast trail, where you can be sure to spot birds such as nightingales, marsh harriers, and many more.
Within RSPB Minsmere are toilets, picnic tables and a café which is open daily between 10am and 4pm.
Clare Castle Country Park
If you’re looking to gaze at historical wonders on your walks this summer, be sure to head to Clare Castle Country Park. Set in the heart of the Stour Valley, the 36-acre park is home to six different circular walks – ranging from two to seven miles in length.
Each walk offers ramblers stunning countryside views – and be sure to keep an eye out for the eponymous Clare Castle which sits atop the mound within the park.
This country park has parking available, alongside toilets and its very own on-site café.
Snape Maltings to Aldeburgh
Dubbed ‘Sailor’s Path’, this six-mile route along the River Alde will let you walk in the footsteps of the seafaring sailors who travelled in from the coast towards Snape in years gone by.
As you make your way down the route, you’ll venture through a variety of woodland and wetland, giving you the chance to see the best that the Suffolk countryside has to offer. It should be noted that there is a section that goes along busy roads, so proceed with caution.
Southwold to Walberswick
Two of the county’s most popular coastal resorts, why not make the three-mile trek from Southwold to Walberswick this summer? Situated on the Suffolk Coastal Path, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to stop off for a bite to eat, grab a drink or even go crabbing.
You’ve seen the film, now visit the location where the events of The Dig took place all those years ago.
Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge is home to a number of short walks, including 0.8-mile river view walk, the 1.1-mile pinewood walk, and the Royal Burial Ground walk which is 0.5 miles in length.
The grounds, which are under the care of the National Trust, also offer parking, toilets and refreshments.
Stretching over 2,000 acres of woodland, parkland and farmland, the historic Thornham Estate is home to over 12 miles of popular walks.
Some of the most beloved routes on the estate include the bird hide walk, the butterfly ride walk, and the water meadows walk. Also on-site are a café, walled garden, and fishing lakes. Toilets are also available, as well as a picnic area.
Situated between Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket is Bradfield Woods, an 81-hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. Home to a variety of butterflies and birds, you may want to bring your binoculars to get a closer look at some of the fascinating fauna on offer as you explore the site’s five miles of trails.
On-site there are also toilets, a picnic area and a free car park.