Riverside rambles, shaded forest hikes, historic trails and picturesque coastal strolls – Suffolk has a walking route suited to every rambler. Here are just a few of the best...
Set between the picturesque villages of Holbrook, Stutton and Tatingstone, Alton Water offers 400 acres of nature set around a reservoir. There are several trails to choose from: the full 12km circuit, or one of many shorter trails.
Starting at Alton Water’s car park near the Royal Hospital School, follow the well-marked footpath for a circular walk around the manmade lake to see woodland, birdlife and enjoy views of windsurfers gliding across the water. The White Horse pub in Tattingstone is a great place to stop for lunch. Alternatively, set out a picnic on one of the small sandy coves by the water’s edge.
One shorter route to try is the Nature Trail – a five kilometre walk encompassing woodland areas, a butterfly garden, a wildflower meadow, ponds and bird hides.
This eight kilometre walk in Dunwich is great for those who want a mix of everything: heather fields, coastal views, abundant birdlife and a rich history. Start at Dunwich Heath, where purple and yellow flowers carpet the ground and you can look out across a slope of pebbles leading to the sea.
Following the National Trust signs will lead you through the charming village of Dunwich, before taking you on to Greyfriar ruins, where you can discover the history of this fascinating seaside settlement – most of which has now been taken into the sea, along with cliffs that have eroded over the years. From here, follow the path to the end, cross the road and walk along the border of Mount Pleasant Farm, until you’re back at the coastguard cottages at Dunwich Heath.
Walk along Suffolk’s border with Essex to enjoy views over the Stour Valley and Dedham Valley – where you'll see the places that inspired John Constable’s 18th century paintings. This peaceful and popular ramble will take you along the edge of the river and to the bucolic Cattawade Marshes, an 88-acre nature reserve protected by the RSPB.
Soon you will arrive at Flatford: a small, rustic hamlet where you can see the mill and Willy Lott's House, both depicted in Constable’s Hay Wain painting. A walk down Flatford Lane – Constable's route to school as a child – will lead you to a kissing gate that marks the spot where an old stile used to stand, the very same one immortalised in Constable's Leaping Horse.
Back in 1980, several members of the US Air Force, based at RAF Woodbridge, reported seeing strange lights around Rendlesham Forest, with the commander later reporting a UFO sighting. Over the last 40 years, many theories have developed about what the lights were and why they appeared when they did.
Today, you can try and solve the mystery yourself, by tacking a five kilometre trail dedicated to the decades-old, so-called 'alien' activity. A UFO sighting of your own is highly unlikely, but the walk is worth it regardless – Rendlesham Forest lies with an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and a host of (terrestrial) woodland creatures can be seen slaloming between the ancient trees.
Not far from Rendlesham Forest is Sutton Hoo: an Anglo-Saxon burial chamber, with the richest source of archaeological evidence from this time period in all of England. With thick mists rolling in low over the grassy mounds of burial grounds, and trees silhouetted against the horizon, this makes for a haunting walk, but an undeniably beautiful one.
Starting at the Sutton Hoo's reception, follow the path that winds between the distinctive burial sites, forming peaks across the landscape. Soon, you'll pass the River Deben, where you can enjoy views of a cluster of boats across the water. Enjoy a long, leisurely walk through the woods, before returning to the Sutton Hoo site. Make sure you leave enough time to fully explore the site, and read up on the region's ancient history.
Sea views from a promenade, the smell of fish and chips in the air, and even a spot of crabbing... yep, it doesn't get much more quintessentially British than this windswept five kilometre stroll along the Suffolk coast.
Start in the popular town of Southwold to pass row upon neat row of rainbow-striped beach huts. At the end of the pier, you'll reach the Havenbeach Marshes and the River Blyth. Slow down to soak up Southwold's old-fashioned harbour, crossing the footbridge that takes you to the village of Walberswick. Here you'll see another old-fashioned site – rows of people sitting on the sea wall fishing for crabs. Continue wandering into the village, where you'll find many a quirky café, ideal for refuelling with coffee and a slice of cake.
For a longer walk, head to the nearby Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve, another twitcher's paradise looked after by the RSPB. Marsh harriers, bitterns and bearded reedling can be spotted among the mudflats and marshes.
Starting on the coast and ending at the wildlife-strewn River Alde, this 11km walk from Aldeburgh to Snape Maltings is filled with postcard-worthy houses, vast Suffolk skies and views over reeds as far as the eye can see.
Begin your walk in the pretty coastal town of Aldeburgh, on the path sandwiched between the pebbly beach and a row of brightly-coloured houses and storefronts. Look out for the huge scallop sculpture that stands on the beach. After soaking up the sea views, head through the Blackheath Wood to emerge in the 2,000-year-old village of Snape, walking one final stretch to reach Snape Maltings.
Primarily known as a creative hub, it's an ideal stop for nature lovers too, with its prime location along the River Alde. Here, long readbeds quiver in the wind, beside shiny mudflats and shallow waters. Follow one of the river's many trails to spot sunbathing seals and watch birds, including woodlark, yellowhammer and nightjar.
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