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

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Sandlings Walk - Snape to Knodishall

A 14 mile circular walk along the Sandlings Trail between Snape and Knodishall with return along the Sailors Path

The Sandlings path diverges from its typical heaths and forests routes for this walk which heads across open fields. The highlight of the walk is the quiet village of Friston with its Hall and fascinating Windmill.

Snape to Leiston Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
SnapeView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
LeistonView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
14 miles
Walk difficulty

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
09:30 to 16:00
Weather Conditions
Bright spring sunshine, cool but pleasant. First time in the year we had to take fleeces off!

Walk Notes

This was the third section of the Sandlings Path, a long distance trail linking Ipswich and Southwold, which we set out to complete during the spring of 2010. Living so close to this section, we was able to treat this as a circular walk, using the old Aldeburgh railway line and the Sailors Path to reach the start at Snape Maltings (see the post for the Suffolk Coast Path for more details of the Sailors Path). There are alternative routes, one being to walk along the road from Knodishall to the junction with the Aldeburgh road and continue directly onwards along the track opposite the junction. This track is the old Leiston to Snape road but these day at best is an old farm track with parts no more than a footpath. There is also the 165 bus service that links Leiston, Aldeburgh and Snape. However this service only runs all the way through from Leiston to Snape during the morning hours and the return back to Leiston is only available late afternoon. Aldeburgh offers an all day service to Snape. So, in my opinion, even though it is substantially longer, the circular route using the Sailors Path is the most enjoyable.

This section of the Sandlings is untypical of the path as a whole. In general the Sandlings route is across heathland and forests. On this section the landscape is open fields, farm tracks and following field boundaries. The main place of interest is Friston, a village whose name means 'enclosure or settlement of Frisians', the Frisians being a tribe from Northern Germany who arrived in this part of Britain after the withdrawal of the Roman army in the 5th Century AD. The village is worth taking time out to look around especially visiting the old windmill which is an impressive structure. Friston Hall is private and unfortunately there is not much of a view from the public right of way, but the 300 year old Lime Avenue that leads up to the Hall can be seen in front of the Hall.

The walk can be extended down to Sizewell where there are camping facilities or the alternative for the long distance walker is to head into Leiston where there is B&B accommodation.

Track from Friston to Knodishall
Track from Friston to Knodishall


The main Sandlings walk is between Snape and Knodishall. To get to Snape from Leiston either use the route below, or take the Knodishall road through to the junction with the Aldeburgh Road and continue straight on down the track to Snape.

Leiston to Snape

From Leiston take Red House Lane out of town eastwards. This turns to a track and soon afterwards there is a footpath on the right. Take this and continue through the Golf Course and onto the old railway track at Thorpeness. Keep to the track until the Suffolk Coast Path crosses this just before Aldeburgh. Take the right footpath and follow the Suffolk Coast Path waymarkers up to the road, across the Golf Course and around the back of Aldeburgh. When it meets the main road turn right and continue along the verges until the Sailors Path on the left. Keep to this through to Snape Maltings.

Snape to Knodishall

From the Maltings take the road into Snape. Turn right by the Crown pub and follow the lane up the hill, round the sharp left bend and onto the main road. Cross straight over the main road and follow the footpath along the field boundary until it junctions with a another footpath. Turn right and follow the path past the Hall, then across the lawn on the right and over the fields to Friston. turn left onto the road. At the Chequers pub cross directly over and follow the road to the left turn. A footpath on the right leads down by the side of a fence until a stile allows access to the field on the left. Diagonally cross the field to emerge onto a farm track. Keep to the track down to Knodishall.

Knodishall to Leiston

Follow the road through Knodishall and into Leiston.

Friston Mill with the steps that carried the FantailGarden in front of Friston Hall
On the left Friston Mill with the steps that carried the Fantail; On the right Garden in front of Friston Hall


The Crown, Snape View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Bridge Road, Snape

The Crown Inn is a 15th century smugglers inn. The interior is full of old beams, original brick floors and probably the finest double Suffolk settle in existence which surrounds the inglenook fireplace. There is also a spacious garden and a varied menu offering dishes cooked from locally sourced seasonal produce including their own home reared meats and produce from the pubs own allotment. Ales are supplied by Adnams beers and theres a choice of over thirty different wines.


As it was such a lovely spring day we opted to sit outside in the enclosed garden. No complaints about the Adnams Old Ale, a glorious and easy drinking dark ale which complimented an excellent Ploughmans lunch supplied on a wooden board. A little on the expensive side but then no different from other Adnams houses in this area.

The Golden Key, Snape View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Priory Road, Snape

This pub dates from 1480 when it was known as the sign of the Cock. There is a main bar area, adjacent dining areas and a popular "drinkers grotto". Small outside patio. Classic, well cooked British food features strongly but not to the detriment of fine beer on sale.


It is easy to miss this pub, tucked away off of the main road through the village and just around the corner from the Crown. In fact I had lived in the area for many years before I realised it was there. Very busy when we visited but a decent pint of Adnams Explorer and an amusing tiff between a young couple riding their bicycles which fell over after they stood them up against the fence.

Lime Avenue, the 300 year old avenue that leads from Friston Hall to Snape Common
Lime Avenue, the 300 year old avenue that leads from Friston Hall to Snape Common


Friston HallView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Friston manor was an area of land that was part of an endowment that had been made to the Benedictine house of St John at Colchester around 1155 to fund the building of the Abbey at Snape. By the late 16th century the ownership of the manor had passed to Micheal Hare of Bruisyard who then sold it on to James Bacon. It was either Hare or Bacon who built the manor house which has come to be known as Friston Hall. The Bacon family enlarged the house during the 17th century including adding a chapel to make it one of the largest houses in the county. Its estate included dove-houses, gardens, orchards, stables, decoy pool and a warren.

During the seventeenth century the great avenue of lime trees was planted. Although this still remains down to the Aldeburgh road, when constructed this road did not exist and the avenue continued all the way down to Snape Common where there was a race course. Races were held annually on August 14th after the four-day Dunningworth Horse Fair.

The house was bought by Sir Henry Johnson, a wealthy shipbuilder from Aldeburgh, in the 1680s, and he made improvements to the house and demolished the Chapel. The large iron gates bearing Johnsons initials still stand between the remains of the terrace and the kitchen garden.

The house has passed through the ownership of many generations of the Wentworth family beginning in 1711 when Thomas Wentworth married Anna Johnson, the daughter of Sir Henry. In 1947 Major Charles John Wentworth, inherited the estate through to his death in 1975. The old manor, together with the land in the parish of Hazelwood were finally offered for sale as the Blackheath Estate in 1998, ending nearly three centuries of Wentworth family ownership. Having said this, it would appear a Charles Wentworth still resides at the Hall, which is owned by BHE Farms Ltd.

Friston MillView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The Friston Mill is a fine example of a post mill with a roundhouse. It originally had four sails and a fantail which was carried on the rear steps in the Suffolk style. It is reputed to be the tallest surviving post mill in the UK.

The date the mill was constructed was 1812, however there is debate over whether the mill was constructed in California, Ipswich and moved in sections or whether it was one of four which originally stood above Woodbridge and was moved to Friston. Either way, the mill was worked by several millers up until 1837 when it was purchased by Joshua Reynolds who eventually built the house next to the mill in 1872. A plaque displaying his name and the date still exists high on the wall of the house facing the road.

Two of the sails were removed in 1943 and not replaced due to the shortage of timber leaving the mill to work on the two remaining sails until 1956. The sails were then replaced by a diesel engine which worked up until 1964. Despite threats of demolition in 1965 and 1968 and even a proposal to move the mill to The East Anglian Rural Life Museum at Stowmarket the mill has remained in situ. Permission for demolition was finally rescinded and on the death of the last miller in 1972 when new owners declared their intention of preservation. In 2003 English Heritage donated a grant to assist with the preservation. In 2004 the steel framework was erected as the post was out of alignment and the trestle fractured and in need of urgent repair. The framework is still in place to this day and the work has yet to commence.

Friston Hall with its associated buildings
Friston Hall with its associated buildings


Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2016-01-16


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