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

Monday, 30 August 2010

The Sandlings Walk

The Sandlings Waymarker

An overview of the Sandlings Walk, a 60 mile long distance path through the forests and heaths of East Suffolk

The Sandlings is a 60 mile walk from the eastern fringes of Ipswich with Southwold, linking the remaining fragments of beautiful Sandlings Heath. The trail leads through Rendlesham, Tunstall and Dunwich forests and also includes riverside walks at Woodbridge and heathland walks across Rushmere Heath, Sutton Heath, Thorpeness Common and Dunwich Heath.

Ipswich to Southwold Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
IpswichView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
SouthwoldView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
65 miles
Walk difficulty


OS Map:
OS Explorer Map Sheet 231 Southwold & Bungay
OS Map:
OS Explorer Map Sheet 212 Woodbridge & Saxmundham
OS Map:
OS Explorer Map Sheet 197 Ipswich, Felixstowe & Harwich
OS Route Map
OSM Route Map
Google Route Map
GPX file for walk

Walk Notes

There are several starting points for this path on the eastern side of Ipswich. These are at Broke Hall by the junction of Heath Road, on the Woodbridge Road and on Heath Road opposite the hospital. The routes join on Rushmere Heath to head out to Martlesham.

The path is across mainly sandy soil and through forests which make the ground very well drained resulting in little disruption from adverse weather. There can be diversions set up in the forests due to logging and clearing operations and it is worth checking out up-to-date diversions and information on the suffolk Coast and Heaths website

The Sandlings Walk can be broken down into the following sections:

  • Ipswich to Melton: A walk across Rushmere Heath and down to Martlesham Creek where it follows the riverside path through to Woodbridge and Melton.
  • Melton to Snape: This section encompasses Sutton Heath and Rendlesham and Tunstall Forests as it winds its way around the now defunct Woodbridge and Bentwaters airbases, renowned for their 1980 UFO encounter that was dubbed the British Roswell.
  • Snape to Sizewell: The path leads over open fields through to Friston and Knodishall before it heads to the coast at Sizewell via Thropeness Common
  • Sizewell to Dunwich: The original route for the Sandlings went along the beach in front of the Sizewell Power Station and then up through Kenton Hills. This is now been re-routed up across Leiston Common and Sizewell Belts to join the original route at the Kenton Hill car-park. The original route can still be accessed. There are some outstanding views as the route leads up and across Dunwich Heath.
  • Dunwich to Southwold: The trail leads through Dunwich Forest and around the edge of Westwood marshes before crossing the river Blyth and ending at Southwold.

Being based in Suffolk and living within easy reach The Sandlings Walk, I regularly walk much of the route many times each year. In 2010 I walked the complete path over a period of several days during the Spring, using public transport to link each end of a days walk and making circular routes from many of the central sections. The Suffolk Coast Path, which runs parallel to The Sandlings Walk, makes a convenient route to create a circular walk along a lot of the sections between Southwold and Snape.

Public Transport and Getting Around

At the end of June 2013 Anglian Bus announced that it was withdrawing its service which basically followed the Sandlings route between Knodishall, Leiston and Ipswich. This was a very good hourly service with obliging drivers who would pick up and drop off passengers at any requested point. This was a good method of getting around sections of the Sandlings and has been sorely missed.

In 2015 First Group updated their services to include most of the route that the Anglian buses served although it is not as frequent, reducing the hourly service to once every two hours. The new 65 service links Aldeburgh, Knodishall, Snape, Rendlesham Woodbridge and Ipswich.

There are campsites along the route including Waldringfield Moon and Sizpence (just off route), Tangham Forest Camping in Rendlesham Forest, Sizewell Beach View Camping and Caravn Site, Eastbridge Farm Campsite and Southwold Harbour Campsite, plus a youth hostel at Blaxhall which breaks the distance into manageable day-walks.

Kenton Hill woods
Kenton Hill woods


The path is marked out with the distinct Sandlings design based upon a nightjar. The design is branded onto wooden posts although during 2011 there has been an effort to overmark these with a plastic marker.

From Rushmere Heath the path navigates out to Martlesham and down to the creek where it follows the riverside past Woodbridge and through to Melton. After passing through Bromeswell the path heads out across Sutton Heath and thn enters Rendlesham Forest emrging at Butley. Next is Tunstall forest and a short trek into Snape. The path now enters open country side to take in the villages of Friston and Knodishall before heading to the coast at Sizewell. Leiston Common and Sizewell Belts and crossed before heading through Eastbridge and across Dunwich Heath to Dunwich village. The final section leads back inland through Dunwich forest and around Westwood marshes before eventually crossing the River Blyth and ending in Southwold.


Walks around The Sandlings

An index of the walks around the long distance path of The Sandlings that are contained on this site. Each walk details pubs en route, transport linking start and end and features to look out for.


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: ... 2017-03-04

2012-03-31 : add in Eastbridge Farm campsite and change name of Sizewell Cliff House campsite to Beach View
2013-04-13 : changes to the Suffolk Coast and Heaths website links. Sandloings leaflets no longer available
2013-05-12 : add announcement of the discontinuation of the 165 bus service which serves the southern half of the Sandlings - add in links to PDF leaflets
2013-10-16 : update linkks and add in transport information about new First Group services
2014-11-28 : remove bad links, general corrections


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