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

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The Sandlings Walk - Dunwich to Southwold

The Sandlings Walk - Dunwich to Southwold
A 15 mile circular walk along the Sandlings footpath between Dunwich and Southwold, with an option of returning either via the beach or the Suffolk Coast Path through Dingle Marshes
This is the final stage of the Sandlings Walk from Ipswich to Southwold. Starting at Dunwich, it takes the trails through Dunwich Forest and heads over Walberswick Heath to Southwold. The woods are full of mushrooms and nuts and berries this time of year... and hops! This is a lovely walk through the woods and well worth the effort. To make the route circular, the return is either via Dingle Marshes, or the Suffolk Coast Path or if the tide is out then its an easy walk along the beach.

Date of Walk:
  • 2010-08-29 (return via marshes), 
  • 2010-04-05 (visit Walberwick, return via Coast path)

Start point: Dunwich

End Point: Dunwich

Start Time:11:00

End time: 16:30

Distance: 15 miles

Walkers: Griffmonster, Kat

Weather conditions:
  • (2010-04-04) Cold and windy spring day with some bright spells
  • (2010-08-29) Brisk wind with some very heavy showers including hail. Warm sunshine by the end of the day!

Path taken: A track from the north end of Dunwich village, just beyond the church and adjaccent to the war memorial leads into Dunwich forest. Follow the Sandlings waymarkers through the forest. Eventually it comes out onto a track that leads down to Walberswick. Before getting to the village, the path doubles back on itself across the heath on the left of the track. The path eventually comes out onto a track to the footbridge across the River Blyth - this was the route of the former Halesworth to Southwold Railway, a narrow gauge branch line which closed in 1929. The path then follows the river down-stream. To walk into Southwold just follow the waymarkers past the camp site. There are alternative routes for the return:
  • Across Dingle Marshes: Return via the footbridge and follow the track onto the road into Walberswick. Cross the road and walk round the road that forks right and onto a track between the houses with a footpath sign. This will lead you around the edge of the marshes with sights across to Dunwich and Sizewell. The path eventually descends into the marshes, across a boardwalk and up a bank. Turn left and head for the old windmill. Here it connects with the coast walk which can be followed up to the edge of the forest and back down into Dunwich.
  • Suffolk Heritage Coast Path: use the Ferry to cross the river to Walberswick then follow the waymerkers for the Suffolk Coast Path.
  • Along the Coast: follow the beach back to Dunwich. This is a long shingle bank which can be hard-walking. At low tide there is a little sand which is much easier to walk over.

Walk difficulty: Easy

  •  The Harbour Inn, Southwold: ( a busy little Adnams pub that offers food and beer. Vulnerable to flooding with plenty of artifacts as testament on the pub walls. Adnams Explorer was excellent on this visit.
  • The Bell, Walberswick: ( A busy popular old pub with flagstones on its floor. It does food and serves Adnams, expensive as ever and dutifully obeying the inverse square law that the nearer you get to Adnams brewery the more the beer costs. Visted this in April when we had to skip the final few miles to Southwold due to a pre-arranged meeting. Oh, and by the way, if you see a fisherman sitting in the smoking room, keep your eyes on him as he may just dissappear, or so local ghostly folklore tells us.

Walk Features:
  • Dunwich Forest: a mixture of coniferous and broadleaved woodland .
  • Walberswick: Famous for its crabbing, Walberswick offer the visitor tea rooms, restaurants, an art gallery, original crafts and gift shops. Fresh fish can be bought from Uncle Fred in Church Lane and from the harbour huts on the Southwold side of the River Blyth.

Notes: Its always good to visit Southwold and this walk is a great way to do it. With the alternative routes to return to Dunwich there is plenty of scope for varying the walk on different occassions. Beware of path closures across the marshes as there are frequent maintenance operations to the defences. An iteresting sight at the start of the walk was sheep grazing in the church graveyard - it was a Sunday! Dunwich Forest touches both Westleton Heath and Walberswick Heath. There are signs decreeing that the area was once used for military exercises and you should not touch any suspect items that may be found. I have never found any devices thus far! The day was full of cold heavy showers, including hailstones. Luckily we had packed the waterproofs so the upper half stayed relatively dry. Trousers got soaked and dried by the ensuing sun twice during the day. It was amusing when we found a group of grockels in a car on the track from Walberswick - a woman with wellies on was leading their car and testing the depth of the puddles, in once instance reaching the top of her boots. She declared they had taken the wrong road, thinking it was the main road into Dunwich!

Equipment: Day rucksack

Accommodation: None

Transport: Car to Dunwich beach car park (free)


View Sandlings 7 - Dunwich to Southwold in a larger map

Last Updated: 2014-01-02Z


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