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

Monday, 17 December 2018

The Sandlings Walk

The Sandlings Waymarker

An overview of the Sandlings Walk, a 55 mile long distance path through the forests and heaths of East Suffolk

The Sandlings is a 55 mile walk starting at Rushmere Heath on the eastern side of Ipswich with Southwold, passing through the remaining fragments of East Suffolks Sandling Heaths. 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 location: Ipswich 
  • End location: Southwold 
  • Distance:   miles (  km)
  • Total Gain:   ft (  metre)
  • Total Descent:   ft (  metre)
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  • Walk type: Linear
  • Walk Grade: Easy
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The following maps and services can assist in navigating this route. There are links to printed maps and links to downloadable GPX route data for importing into navigational software and apps.


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 has been rerouted at Snape, now following the river bank and the western edge of Snape Warren. The path then leads over open fields to Friston and Knodishall before it heads to the coast at Sizewell via Thorpeness Common
  • Sizewell to Dunwich: The original route for the Sandlings cut through to Leiston Common and then used permissive paths across Sizewell Belts and into Kenton Hill woodland. This has now been rerouted in front of the Power Station and then through Goosehill and Kenton Hill woods. It is unknown why this was rerouted as the original route was more in keeping with the typical Sandlings landscapes of heath and woodland whereas the realigned route uses the coast. The original route can still be accessed and many of the old waymarkers are still in position along with new permissive path waymarkers. 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.

The Suffolk Coast Path runs parallel to The Sandlings Walk and makes a convenient route to create a circular walks along a lot of the sections between Southwold and Snape.

Public Transport and Getting Around

In recent years public transport along the route of the Sandlings has been severely cut back. There is only a single 65 bus service each weekday from Aldeburgh passing through Snape and Rendlesham. There are no other services until Woodbridge where both train and bus services link to Ipswich. The 64 bus service runs hourly from Leiston, only a couple of miles from the Sandlings path at Knodishall, and Woodbridge. There is no direct public transport between Knodishall and Southwold or the villages between.

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.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2021-12-07

2010-08-31 : Initial publication
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
2018-08-26 : update transport and maps
2018-12-17 : General website updates
2021-03-17 : Update website improvements and removal of ViewRanger reliance
2021-12-01 : Removal of ViewRanger links due to its imminent demise


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