Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Friday, 2 April 2010

The Sandlings Walk - Knodishall to Sizewell Belts

Sizewell Belts

A 9 mile circular walk that links Knodishall and Sizewell Belts along Suffolk's Sandlings Trail

An easy walk across the typical heaths and commons of Coastal East Suffolk that make up the Sandlings. Tall trees, open heathland, rabbits, woodpeckers and sandy tracks make this an enjoyable stroll.

Leiston to Kenton Hill Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
Leiston View in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
Kenton Hill View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
9 miles
Walk difficulty


The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. The links include published hard copy as well as online plots and downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.

Ordnance Survey Explorer Map
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Online Ordnance Survey Route
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Online OpenStreetMap Route
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Online Google Route
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GPX data for route (download)

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
10:30 to 15:00
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Warm spring day with plenty of sunshine but a rather cool coast breeze

Walk Notes

We first walked this route two years ago as part of walking the entire distance of the Sandlings footpath. Although we walk parts of this section on a regular basis, on a Saturday that held a little spare time, we decided to retrace our steps on this section. We are so privileged to live in this area where, almost without thought or planning, one can wander off on a good walk through some pleasant countryside.

As part of the Sandlings trail one could easily extend this walk through to either Eastbridge where there is a campsite or Dunwich where there is the Ship B&B. This section is typical of the Sandlings route as it crosses commons, heathland and woodland. At Sizewell there are two alternative routes to choose from, either taking the coast route in front of the Power Station and then head through Goose Hill and Kenton Hill woods or, as in this case, take the more picturesque route across Leiston Common and Sizewell Belts.

The original post for this walk included a visit to the Butchers Arms in Knodishall. However, this pub has recently closed down, yet another victim of the government's taxation and crusade against the demon drink. I really can't see this opening again as it needs support from the regular drinkers and in this day and age people are being forced by high prices to have a drink at home. A real shame as they were an outlet for the outstanding Green Jack brewery. However, there is The Vulcan Arms at Sizewell but on this occasion we decided to pay a visit to the Sizewell Beach View Camping Site bar which is just off route and located half way along the walk

This walk passes behind the new Greater Gabbard Windfarm Substation, whose turbines sit 30 miles south off the coast of Felixstowe. This fenced industrial area sits humming away by the side of Broom Covert and is subtly masked by the tall trees of the wood in which it is located. I believe I am correct in stating that this will soon be extended to include the Galloper Windfarm substation. It does amaze me that such constructions are allowed in an area designated as 'an area of outstanding natural beauty' (AONB). With the spare land made available by the decommissioning of Sizewell A Power Station it does appear rather suspicious that they are allowed to build on these greenfield sites. There was a public consultation and, if I remember correctly, 5 possible sites were proposed for its construction, including the Power Station site. However, in my opinion, the site was already a foregone conclusion despite what many locals may have wanted and consequently it was plonked in the middle of this little piece of woodland. Maybe the area will be redesignated as an 'area of outstanding natural substations (AONS)!

Having had my rant on substation locations, one positive aspect that came out of the construction was the revealing of a medieval wooden boat during the archaeological works that preceded the construction. This well preserved rare artifact from the 12th or 13th century was probably a small inshore fishing vessel and had been broken up and parts of the hull re-used to create a timber lining for a well. Other finds included pottery dating from the 12th-14th centuries, part of a wooden platter, fishing hooks and weights, animal and fish bones and various personal items such as buckles and clothing fasteners.

Footpath into Kenton Hills woodland
Footpath into Kenton Hills woodland


The walk is well waymarked with the distinctive Sandlings markers.

The path is picked up on the southern side of Knodishall as a track leading eastwards up a hill across arable farmland. Keep to the track, turning left by a wooded area known as Five Acre Pickle and head round to the radio mast where the track passes by the buildings and down to the Aldeburgh Road. Cross over the road and head over the heathland with The Warren to the right and The Fens to the left. The path enters more woodland and onto the former Aldeburgh railway. When the path emerges to an open area which used to be the old station, turn right and follow the path around the back of the house. Keep to this path, past the golf course on the right and over the road onto a surfaced track. This soon bends round to the right and becomes a sandy lane which leads through to Sizewell. The Beach View bar can be found by taking the footpath by Sizewell Hall to the coast, turn left and the entrance is 100 yards along the top of the dunes.

Returning back to the path, continue to the Sizewell road and cross over onto another sandy track a few yards up the road. Just before the houses at the end of the track there is a footpath on the left which leads round the back of the Wind Farm substation and out across Broom Covert, usually home to grazing cows. At the end of the covert there is a style back onto a track. Where this junctions with another track take the footpath directly opposite down the side of the house and up to Leiston Common. Follow the markers across the common, heading to the right of the cottages on the far side where there is a steep hill down to Sizewell Belts. This can be marshy in wet conditions. The path leads across the Belts and up into Kenton Hill woods. Follow the Sandlings markers through to the far end of the woods where it emerges onto the track to Eastbridge.

To return to Leiston, turn left on the track then head down the hill on the road where there is a footpath that leads onto Valley road in Leiston.

The River HundredKenton Hills
On the left The River Hundred; On the right Kenton Hills


Beach View Bar, Sizewell View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Beach View Bar, Sizewell

This beach facing bar is part of the Beach View Camping and Caravan site formerly known as Cliff House. It is open to the public during lunchtime and afternoon, apart from Wednesdays, and offers snacks including traditional clotted-cream teas, freshly baked cakes, and toasties. Coffee and beer and cider is also on offer including Adnams ales on draught. There are stunning panoramic sea views from the conservatory and outside sun terrace, with tables, chairs and umbrellas for those looking to soak up the sun and views.


Location is what this bar is all about, with views of the beach from the patio. This was the first weekend the bar had opened for the 2012 season the owner readily admitted that this was just to get things up and running and consequently he had yet to get draught ales in. Therefore I had to opt for a bottle of Adnams Southwold Bitter. Very refreshing and relaxing gazing out at two survey ships just off the coast. Could very easily spend all day sitting there are watching the world go by!

Sandlings sculpture at North Warren
Sandlings sculpture at North Warren


Blything HundredView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The River Hundred passes through the parish of Knodishall and then feeds into Thorpeness Mere. The name of the river is taken from the fact that it formed the boundary to the Saxon hundreds of Blything and Plomesgate. The hundreds were land divisions set up around the 10th century and the name is thought to be a reference to the number of hides or units sufficient to support one family. The name of the hundred is usually derived from the outdoor meeting place that was the location of the old Hundred court. Blything Hundred covered the area bounded by the hundred river in the south to the Hundred river at Benacre in the north and Rumburgh in the west with its centre of administration based at the hall of the ancient royal estate of Blythburgh.

On the southerly side of the Blything Hundred is the village signed as Knodishall. This is, in fact, the hamlet known as Coldfair Green, Knodishall being a tiny hamlet west of this. On Hodskinsons map from the 1780s Coldfair Green is given the name Coldford Green and was the location of a ford across the Hundred River linking Leiston with Snape. The name change is thought to have occurred in the late 1800's when an annual fair was held in the village. This custom died out in the early part of the 20th century but has more recently been revived.

Sizewell BeltsView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Sizewell Belts is an area of marsh, reedbed and wet woodland located to the north west of Sizewell Power Station and owned by the nuclear industry. Originally a wild reed marsh, the area was drained in the 18th century. Today the area is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust who use cattle grazing nd traditional hay making to control the meadow vegetation along with annual willow pollarding, a technique of pruning to restrict the height and extend the life of the tree. The maze of dykes are cleaned out on a rotation basis to ensure that ensures a variety of vegetation development and diversity of habitat is always on show.

The site is one of the best wetlands in East Anglia for wildflowers including orchid, yellow rattle, ragged-robin, bogbean and lady’s smock and is home to otters, water voles and kingfishers.

The Fens, North Warren
The Fens, North Warren


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on an image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2017-12-14

2012-03-31 : updated and expanded from original 2010-04-02 walk
2014-11-21 : updated images and reformatted maps


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