An 7 mile circular walk through the woodland around Sizewell on the Suffolk Coast
Suffolk is not best known for its hills and Kenton Hill and Goose Hill probably would not be regarded as hills but for their name. However this wooded area offers an ever changing scenery throughout the year with the mixture of conifer and broad leafed trees, flora and fauna and a variety of wildlife. There is also a viewing platform overlooking the Mensmere marshes
Leiston to Sizewell Walk - Essential Information
- Date of Walk
- Walk Time
- 12:00 to 16:00
- Griffmonster, Kat
- Weather Conditions
- Overcast, cool
There is little information about this forested area that borders the coast on the east, Minsmere to the north, the hamlet of Sizewell with the Power Station to the south and Leiston Abbey to the west. I have searched through old books and scoured the internet for information but found virtually nothing. No history. No folk-lore. No old smugglers tales. The area is depicted on maps dating from the 1800's clearly marked as Kenton Hills and Goose Hill though the woodland was not planted until the late 1950's by the forestry commission. I also found a reference to Leiston Old Abbey being the seat of the Rose family and describing this as a mansion surrounded by a well-timbered park of some 1600 acres. Maybe we could guess that Kenton Hills was part of this parkland but this would be pure speculation. On modern OS maps the wooded area to the north of Goose Hill is marked as Dunwich Forest. Could it be that many years ago Dunwich Forest extended south around Minsmere and down to Sizewell? Once again this is speculation and I have found no documentary evidence to support this. No doubt this area had some connection with Leiston Abbey in the past with the original Abbey still being visible on Minsmere marshes and the ruins of the latter Abbey to the west of the area and several nearby buildings whose names have connections including 'Old Abbey, 'upper Abbey' and 'Lower Abbey' and even 'The Roundhouse' which, so I have been told, belonged to Leiston Abbey. Details about the Abbey and its history can be found in the post In Search of the ruins of Leiston Abbey which details a walk taking in both the original Abbey and the latter ruins.
There is a triangulation point located in a small clearing deep in the woodland which does indicate that this must be the summit of Goose Hill though at only 10 metres above sea level this is hardly a prominent landmark. There is also a curious ladder up a trunk of a tree leading to a chair strapped to the trunk. This may seem a good vantage point to view the surrounding area but with the woodland being so dense one only gets to view tree trunks from a different height which is pretty much the same as viewing tree trunks from ground level. Nonetheless it is an interesting find and one has to climb the ladder just because it is there. Continuing onwards through the woods on Goose Hill one eventually comes to the viewing platform. This is a wooden boardwalk out to a hide overlooking the marshes. Inside there is an information board with pictures and descriptions of the various birds one is likely to see out on the reserve.
The woods are frequented by many local people and there is a car park just off Lovers Lane at the entrance to Kenton Hills. The Sandlings long distance path runs through the woods with two alternative routes, one going past the seaward side of Sizewell Power Stations then through Goose Hill and onto Kenton Hills whilst the alternative route cuts across Leiston Common and Sizewell Belts and leads onto the western side of Kenton Hills.
This walk can also be undertaken as a circular walk from Sizewell. It was one of my initial walks of exploration when I first frequented this area. The Sizewell walk is detailed on The Vulcan Arms website with a PDF file available for download as well as paper leaflets available at the pub.
Simple walk with many alternatives using the myriad tracks and paths through Kenton Hill woodland
Leiston to Kenton Hills
Head down Valley Road out of town. Just past the last terrace of housing beyond the railway bridge bear left and take the footpath down the side of the water treatment works. This path leads up to Lovers Lane. turn left and follow the road up the hill, continuing straight ahead as the road bears round to the left. The Kenton Hills car-park is on the right.
Kenton Hills Woodland Walks
The path into the woods is found at the far end of the car park. There is a map board of the trails at the entrance and it is worth taking note as one can take many alternative routes through the woods. The exit to the beach is on the southern side of Goose Hill. For this particular walk the main track on the north side of Kenton Hills was followed, then continued through the middle of Goose Hill to the viewing platform with a wander around the edge of Goose Hill.
Return to Leiston
Follow the tracks along the dunes in front of the power station down to Sizewell. Keep to the landward side of the dunes after Sizewell which will head up the cliff past the Beach View Holiday Park. A path leads down the side of the touring site. At the end turn right, then left down the farm track by the thatched cottage. Where the track opens out into a junction of other tracks turn right down a footpath to Half Way Cottages. Go behind the houses, turn left then right onto a path through the centre of two fields. Continue straight ahead along the track which leads into Red House Lane and Leiston. Turn right on the main road to return to the town centre.
Beach View Bar, Sizewell View in OS Map | View in Google Map
- 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.
The walk was undertaken on the weekend of the Queens Golden Jubilee and the br was decked out in Union Jack bunting with advertising of a party atmosphere for the evening. Mid-afternoon was quiet but it was a pleasant relaxing time gazing out from the sea-front conservatory and supping on a pint of Adnams Southwold Bitter.
Goose and Kenton HillsView in OS Map | View in Google Map
The woodland that now covers Kenton Hills and Goose Hill was planted by the Forestry Commission in 1958 and is now managed as a commercial forest together with objectives to conserve wildlife and manage the landscape providing an area for recreation. The woodland was originally planted as conifer but since 1990 there has been a project to convert this to a a mixed native woodland with over 9000 broadleaf trees having now been planted.
Each season brings a different array of wildlife and fauna with bluebells in early spring followed by rhododendrons and foxgloves in the summer attracting white admiral and speckled wood butterflies. Autumn sees the golden colours of the broad leafed trees and colourful fungi.
As with a lot of this coastal area there are artefact's from the second world war. A rifle range once occupied an area just north of the power station and the drainage ditch leading from Goose Hill up to the Minsmere New Cut was in fact an anti tank defence dug in 1940 by the 15th division of the Lancashire Fusiliers. There are also anti-tank blocks that lead from the coastal side of Goose Hill down to the beach.
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: ... 2017-02-05