Escaping Coronavirus: Walks in the Suffolk countryside

The view from Dunwich Heath towards RSPB Minsmere - an Oustanding Area of Natural Beauty in Suffolk

The view from Dunwich Heath towards RSPB Minsmere - an Oustanding Area of Natural Beauty in Suffolk - Credit: Archant

With everyone concerned about the Coronavirus outbreak, there’s not a lot you can do as a family to celebrate Mother’s Day but you can go for a walk in the fresh air and enjoy some splendid views. Here are some suggestions

Getting out into the Suffolk countryside is a perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day during the Coron

Getting out into the Suffolk countryside is a perfect way to celebrate Mother's Day during the Coronavirus outbreak Photo: Shutterstock - Credit: Archant

In these days of social distancing and self isolation, with pubs and restaurants being out of bounds and cinemas and theatres closed, there is very little you can safely do outside the confines of your home.

With spring yet to be properly sprung, even pottering around the garden isn’t really going to get your blood pumping. Providing you are not exhibiting symptoms of the Coronavirus, you can still go for a walk with your family, providing you all stay two metres apart.

In Suffolk we are spoiled for choice when it comes to great walks you can opt for a wander along coastal pathways or a yomp across a network of bridleways and footpaths that criss-cross central Suffolk or explore the forest walks through Rendlesham and Thetford.

The choice of locations has just been increased because from this weekend the National Trust is making the parkland and countryside surrounding their properties open to visitors free of charge.

Walkers on the bridge at Southwold

Walkers on the bridge at Southwold - Credit: Archant

With Mother’s Day and good weather forecast for the weekend, the National Trust is urging people to enjoy the countryside but to avoid unnecessary travel and follow government guidelines on social gatherings.

The Trust’s coast and countryside places will be open as usual with any car park charges suspended and the charity is working where it can to keep outdoor spaces open and free to access.

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However, Mother’s Day and a weekend likely to be mostly dry and sunny could see some sites, especially smaller parks and gardens having to close. Earlier this week the conservation charity announced that it would close its houses, shops and cafes to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

Nature expert and writer Andy Beer from the National Trust says: “Although our coast and countryside will be open as usual, we’d encourage people to stay local and enjoy the first moments of spring where they are rather than making an unnecessary journey.

Rendlesham Forest offers three walks for families - Picture: TIM DENNEY

Rendlesham Forest offers three walks for families - Picture: TIM DENNEY - Credit: Archant

“There are so many small moments of nature that we can enjoy now that spring has arrived, from the first blossom to flower, birdsong and the first leaves unfurling on our trees.

“We’ve had so much support for our move to keep our outdoor places open which has been really terrific to see. However, we have a responsibility to adhere to government advice and although many can continue to enjoy many of our outdoor places we recognise this weekend is likely to be a challenge.

“To ensure we are encouraging people to stay aware of social distancing, many of our smaller parks and gardens could be closed this weekend. The wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and visitors remains our top priority.”

A series of pictures taken at Flatford late in the afternoon Picture: MICK WEBB

A series of pictures taken at Flatford late in the afternoon Picture: MICK WEBB - Credit: Mick Webb

Weekend Walks:

Dunwich Heath: Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, Dunwich Heath offers you peace and quiet and a true sense of being at one with nature. A rare and precious habitat, the Heath is home to special species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion, adders and much more.

Quiet and serene, wild and dramatic, this is an inspiring visit, whatever the time of year.

Flatford in the winter Picture: MICK WEBB

Flatford in the winter Picture: MICK WEBB - Credit: MICK WEBB

Flatford: Flatford lies in the heart of the beautiful Dedham Vale. This charming hamlet was the inspiration for some of John Constable’s most famous pictures, for example, the Hay Wain or Boatbuilding near Flatford Mill among many others. Wandering beside the River Stour or looking at Flatford Mill and Willy Lott’s House you can feel as if you are actually walking through one of his paintings. This is great walking countryside so you can take the family out, walk the dog or simply step back in time and absorb the places Constable knew and loved.

Ickworth: Once home to the eccentric, and sometimes infamous, Harvey family; the impressive rotunda, which can be seen from the grounds, is a magnificent piece of Suffolk architecture. Formal gardens, pleasure grounds, rolling Suffolk landscape and woodlands invite gentle strolls or long walks, runs, bike rides and picnics. The Italianate Garden mirrors the architecture of the house, whilst also encasing an idiosyncratic Victorian stumpery, contrasting light and shade.

Sutton Hoo: Walk around the awe-inspiring royal burial site at Sutton Hoo and discover the incredible story of the ship burial of an Anglo-Saxon warrior king and his treasured possessions. The hauntingly beautiful 255 acre estate has far-reaching views over the River Deben,

Suffolk Coast Path: A 50-mile circular walk which allows walkers to explore the tiny villages nestled in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, such as Snape, Orford and Wherstead. Walkers can also head towards Woodbridge, and the Shotley Peninsula, both of which offer breathtaking river views. Because the usual pubs and restaurants may be closed it is recommended you bring your own food and drink.

Sudbury: The Meadow Walk is the first section of The Gainsborough Trail, a 13-mile circular walk through Sudbury’s famous watermeadows. The 3.5 mile (5 km) Meadow Walk features Sudbury’s ancient water meadows, which, having never been ploughed to grow arable crops or treated with chemical fertilisers, are a rich source of biodiversity for a wide variety of wild flowers, insects, birds and mammals.

Shotley Peninsula: The Shotley Peninsula sits between two Suffolk rivers, the Orwell and the Stour and is an unspoilt area of Suffolk boasting idyllic landscapes and memorable views. Walking on the Peninsula is a great way to see the wildlife and fully appreciate the views. Shotley is the first destination in Suffolk to have received the Walkers are Welcome accreditation. Further down the River Orwell is the small hamlet of Pin Mill is a perfect place to explore and take in some marvellous views.

The Suffolk Threads Trails: These are circular walks through the historic Suffolk Wool Towns – Lavenham, Long Melford, Hadleigh, Clare, Sudbury – famed for their timber-framed Tudor houses and grand churches. Suffolk’s religious architecture and remote villages can also be explored via the Church & Heritage Trails, located all over the county.

Thornham Walks: Stretching across 2,000 acres of parkland, farmland and woodland, the beautiful Thornham Estate is located in the valley of the River Dove in rural north Suffolk. Thornham has a long and rich history and has belonged to the Henniker-Major family for over 250 years. Highlights include The Folly, restored in 2000, The Water Meadows, the Memory Wood and The Pinetum, which contains a variety of conifer species and the grass under the trees is managed for wildflowers.

Rendlesham Forest: Rendlesham Forest is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There’s something for everyone, including children’s play areas, a bike park for experienced riders, sculptures to discover in Tangham Wood and plenty of places for a picnic. There are three walking trails through the forest: Easy Access Trail (0.75 miles suitable for buggies and wheelchairs), the 3.5 mile Phoenix Trail which looks at the recovery of the flora and fauna after The Great Storm of 1987 and the three mile UFO Trail, designed to stimulate your imagination, taking you through forest, heathland and wetlands and some of the areas connected to the UFO sighting in December 1980.