Suffolk Coast Path
An overview of the Suffolk Coast Path, a 60 mile long distance path following the coast of Suffolk
A 60 mile long distance footpath from Felixstowe to Lowestoft in easy stages through some of the most characteristic landscapes of the AONB. The path, formerly known as the Suffolk Heritage Coast Path, has recently been extended to include the Orford Loop which provides access through to Orford. Alternative beach walks, providing the tide is right, can be undertaken throughout.
Lowestoft to Felixstowe Walk - Essential Information
- OS Map:
- OS Explorer Map Sheet OL40 The Broads
- 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
- Full screen plot of route on an OS map
- Google Route Map
- Full screen plot of route on a Google map
- GPX file for walk
- Downloadable GPX coordinates of walk
The actual distance of this path varies depending upon what website or information leaflet one reads. The official route from Lowestoft to Felixstowe is approximately 60 miles. The Orford Loop will add an additional 15 miles to this unless the Butley Ferry extension is used. With beach alternatives, which reduce the distance slightly, there is no definitive distance.
The path follows the Suffolk coast from Lowestoft to Felixstowe, however, due to coastal erosion some sections have been diverted inland. The sections from Pakefield to Southwold and more recently the section from Sizewell to Thorpeness have redefined routes. It is still possible to walk both of these sections along the coast providing the tide is right. For full details of up-to-date diversions and information visit Suffolk Coast Path Restrictions section on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Website
At Felixstowe the path joins the Stour and Orwell Walk, a 42 mile path around the Shotley peninsular to Cattawade and Manningtree. From February 2012 Suffolk Coast and Heaths adjusted The Stour and Orwell Walk so that it now starts from Languard Common and the former coastal section from Felixstowe Ferry to Felixstowe town has become part of the Suffolk Coast Path and is waymarked as such.
The Suffolk Coast Path can be broken down into the following sections:
- Lowestoft to Southwold (inland): In 2011 the inland route was diverted and now passes through Frostenden Corner. The previous route went through Potters Bridge Marshes but was subject to frequent flooding.
- Lowestoft to Southwold (beach): It is essential to check the tide tables before walking the beach. This section should only be walked between mid and low tide and even then it can be impassable during storm surges and adverse tide conditions when Easton, Benacre and Covehithe Broads can be breached. The section in front of the cliffs at Pakefield can also be impassable at high tide. Having said this, choosing the right time and day, this section is quite spectacular and is well worth walking.
- Walberswick to Dunwich: This section navigates through the marshes and can be subject to flooding, particularly in winter months. Alternative routes are beach which is predominantly shingle although there can be a little sand revealed at low tide, or use the Sandlings route which navigates around the perimeter of the marshes.
- Dunwich to Sizewell: The route heads inland to Dunwich Heath and then passes in front of Minsmere Bird Reserve. An alternative route is via the beach which is predominantly shingle although there can be a little sand revealed at low tide.
- Sizewell to Aldeburgh: Due to erosion of the cliff on the North side of Thorpeness the path has now been diverted inland across Thorpeness Common. The route can be walked along the beach although the section in front of the houses on the north-side of Thorpeness is completely impassable at high tide. An alternative is to take the path up the cliff just before the houses which leads onto the common with access into Thorpeness village.
- Aldeburgh to Iken: The path navigates around the Alde estuary using the footpath known as the Sailors Path. The section between Snape Maltings and Iken Cliff can be subject to flooding for a short periods of time at high tide.
- The Orford Loop: An extension to the main path allows access along the Alde estuary to Orford. This continues through to Gedgrave where there is a ferry to Butley. The ferry only operates on weekends and bank holidays between Easter and the end of September. There is an alternative route from Orford which rejoins the main path at Chillesford
- Iken to Felixstowe: The path runs through Tunstall forest and then follows the Butley River and Ore River to Shingle Street. The section into Bawdsey navigates inland due to coastal erosion. There is no alternative on this section. The Bawdsey to Felixstowe ferry operates daily from May to September and weekends only from Easter to October. As from February 2012 the path continues along the seafront to Felixstowe town along the former route of the Stour and Orwell Walk.
Being based in Suffolk and living within easy reach of the central section of the Suffolk Coast Path I regularly walk the route between Southwold and Snape many times each year. In 2008 I walked the complete path over a period of several days during late July/early August, using public transport to link each end of a days walk and making circular routes from many of the central sections. The Sandlings Walk, which runs parallel to The Suffolk Coast Path, makes a convenient route to create a circular walk along a lot of the sections between Southwold and Snape.
Public transport is not very accessible although there is a good bus service between Southwold and Lowestoft (Anglia buses 601/602 Service) and Aldeburgh and Snape (Anglia buses 165 Service). The section from Snape through to Felixstowe is particularly remote but can be walked within a day (21 miles) with a return bus from Felixstowe to Ipswich, then the 165 bus back through to Snape and Aldeburgh to link the two ends. When I walked the Snape to Felixstowe section in 2008 I cant recall seeing a single person until I reached Bawdsey. 20 miles of serenity and peace.
There are campsites along the route including Tangham Forest Camping (just off route in Rendlesham Forest), The Jolly Sailor at Orford (rooms also available),Sizewell Cliff House and Southwold Harbour Campsite which breaks the distance into manageable day-walks.
I have always been amazed how little this path is exploited. There is very little information about the route online and sparse promotion by the local authorities. This really is a delightful walk that can be undertaken by anyone of moderate fitness. The path runs through some truly outstanding areas of natural beauty plus gives access to the exquisite villages of Orford and Thorpenss, Dunwich and Walberswick.
2013 Coastal Erosion
It should be noted that during March 2013 a large section of Kessingland Beach was washed away. This is close to the Benacre Sluice, south of Kessingland village and was reported in the Eastern Daily Press. It is uncertain at the present time of the consequences and effects this has had on the Suffolk Coast Path which is routed past the sluice.
Another section of the coast path has also suffered from the results of Coastal Erosion. The beach section in front of Bawdsey Manor is currently impassable and the route is now diverted along the road to Bawdsey Quay.
The path is marked out with the distinctive yellow on blue waymarkers.
The route is depicted on OS maps and very well sign-posted throughout. The alternative beach sections are not marked but are merely a case of walking along the beach.
Links and Bibliography
Walks around The Suffolk Coast Path
An index of the walks around the long distance path of The Suffolk Coast Path that are contained on this site. Each walk details pubs en route, transport linking start and end and features to look out for.
Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. There are links to the entire photo album plus a slideshow of all the images. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.
Summary of Document Changes
Last Updated: ... 2014-01-25