Delightful Dunwich

Dunwich walk, Richard Tyson

Dunwich walk, Richard Tyson - Credit: Archant

Richard Tyson follows a path on the beautiful Suffolk coast

Route of the Dunwich walk

Route of the Dunwich walk - Credit: Archant

An easily followed but rewarding walk mostly over attractive heath and woodland. Much of the walk is through open access land but you are requested to only use the paths during the bird nesting season. Dogs must be kept on a lead.

The National Coastal Trail: Some of this walk will probably be incorporated into the English Coastal Path, foreseen in the CROW Act of 2003. English Nature have announced that they hope to start work on the Suffolk section of this Path in 2015. Work is currently underway in Norfolk and it is hoped to complete the whole path on all the English Coast by 2020.

The route: Leave the Dunwich Beach car park by the approach road and at the road junction turn left on the footpath into woodland. The path is flanked by the coastal wild plant called Alexander’s. Wind a little then go left on the next path soon reaching a clifftop view (keep back from the edge!). Continue with the remains of Dunwich Priory on the right. Go straight on into woodland then soon turn right and go under a little footbridge. Continue straight ahead past some houses; after 100 yards on Tarmac turn left on a footpath.

After the path veers right our route crosses the road then immediately turns left along a grass path beside the road; keep straight ahead for half a mile until the road is reached at a traffic island with a zebra crossing. Take the informal path opposite, slightly right towards the sea and quite near the cliff edge. You are on National Trust property, which is open access land, but you are requested to keep to the paths during the bird-nesting season; dogs must be under control. Soon reach the white National Trust café and car park(expensive parking for non-members).

Take a path descending towards the sea but just before the beach turn right up and over some steps leading to a wildlife pond with decking (you can also descend directly from the car park). Continue the walk inland with reed beds on your left and the heath above on the right. If you listen carefully you may hear a “foghorn” sound – the call of the male bittern which attracts the female bird (one wonders why?). The track continues past the reeds; bear left at a junction called “Nightjar Corner” and in due course reach a gate on the left; do not pass through but go right for 10 yards then left along a grassy heathland track. In 15 minutes pass a gate and bear right continuing through pretty heath. On my visit brilliant yellow gorse was in flower and a short distance away I saw five browsing red deer.

Take the sharp left turn marked “Sandlings Way”, soon joined by the Coast and Heaths Path. Keep straight ahead through Mount Pleasant Farm and onward, soon straight over the Westleton-Dunwich road. Descend on a a\track to Sandy Lane Farm. Turn right and the bridleway leads through hills to Dunwich Church. Pass the museum (recommended) and pub then the start is to the left.