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

Sunday 9 February 2020

Suffolk Coast Path

Martello Tower at Bawdsey

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 characteristic landscapes of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The path also includes the Orford Loop which provides access through to Orford and the Butley Ferry. Alternative beach walks, providing the tide is right, can be undertaken throughout.

Lowestoft to Felixstowe Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

  • Start location: Lowestoft 
  • End location: Felixstowe 
  • Distance:   miles (  km)
  • Total Gain:   ft (  metre)
  • Total Descent:   ft (  metre)
  • Min Height:   ft (  metre)
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  • Walk Time:  
  • Walk type: Linear
  • Walk Grade: Easy
  • Terrain:


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

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. In 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. Details of the walk can be found on this site.
  • 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. Details of the walk can be found on this site.
  • Walberswick to Dunwich: This section navigates through the marshes and can be subject to flooding, particularly in winter months. Alternative routes are the beach which is predominantly shingle although there can be a little sand revealed at low tide, or using 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 all but low 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.

The Sandlings Path, which runs parallel to The Suffolk Coast Path between Southwold and Rushmere, East of Ipswich, makes a convenient route to create circular walks using this and the Coast Path. Pleasurable circular walks include Dunwich Forest and the Walberswick Marshes, The area around Minsmere Bird Reserve, The Kenton Hills Woodland and Sizewell Belts area. In addition the section between Sizewell and Aldeburgh can be tailored into a cicular walk making use of the permissive path along the old railway track.

Tide Times

Whenever walking beach sections always consult tide times to assess the feasibility of your walk. Where there are cliff sections avoid the beach other than between 2 hours either side of low tide. Tide times can be found at

Public Transport

Public transport is limited along all of the Coast Path which makes it difficult to walk extensive linear sections of the route without resorting to en-route accommodation or relying upon family and friends to assist.

There is a regular bus service between Southwold and Lowestoft (First Group 99 Service) which also links Kessingland. This makes this section accessible to all experienced walkers.

There is no bus service linking any of the coastal villages from Southwold through to Aldeburgh. This section is off the beaten track. There is an hourly bus service (excluding Sundays and bank holidays) between Aldebugh and Leiston which is a couple of miles inland from Sizewell.

The 65 service which used to operate between Aldeburgh and Snape has been severely cut back to just a single journey a day with no return option (First Group 65 service). This makes the section from Aldeburgh to Felixstowe, a lengthy 27 miles, only achievable as a single day walk for experienced walkers. The section from Snape to Bawdsey is particularly remote and one can expect to see few people walking this section with little in the way of services. Take plenty of food and water. Perfect for those who seek solitude on their rambles.


Lowestoft, Southwold, Aldeburgh and Felixstowe offer plenty of B&B accommodation. Leiston also has similar accommodation and is only 2 miles from the coast at Sizewell and easily accessible using footpaths.

There are campsites along the route including Tangham Forest Camping (just off route in Rendlesham Forest),Sizewell Beach View Camp Site and Southwold Harbour Campsite which breaks the distance into manageable day-walks.


The path includes three ferries which provide the means to navigate across the rivers Blyth, Butley and Deben. The river Alde has no operational ferry and the route uses the Sailors path through to the first bridge at Snape. An information leaflet with 2018 operating schedules, times and prices is available in in PDF format at Suffolk Coast and Heaths Website. Please do download this. A brief summary of the ferries is below.

The Southwold to Walberswick ferry is a seasonal foot passenger ferry across the Blyth River operating from March to November. There is an optional footpath route via the old railway bridge for when the ferry is not operational.

In recent years the Butley Ferry has been reinstated. This is a seasonal ferry (April to October) operated by volunteers and provides access from Gedgrave, south of Orford to Butley. This is part of the Orford Loop extension, with the principle route being the alternative to the ferry, which cuts across from Iken, through Tunstall Forest to navigate down the southern side of the Butley River.

The River Deben ferry from Bawdesy to Felixstowe Ferry only operates May to September. The only viable alternative is to navigate around the Deben estuary which is an extensive walk to the river bridge crossing at Melton. This is 15 miles with a similar distance walking through to Woodbridge and along the southern side of the estuary. There is no public transport to or from Bawdsey so make sure the ferry is operational before embarking on such a walk.

Coastal Erosion

The Suffolk Coast suffers from frequent erosion and incursions by both tide and weather resulting in the coastline constantly changing. Storms during 2007, 2013 and 2017 with strong the easterlies of early 2018 have caused significant damage to the coast path over this time. The path is reinstated after each incursion but be aware of such incidents may leave sections requiring an alternative route.

The marshes between Walberswick and Dunwich are regularly breached by storm surges with some incursions resulting in the loss of the footbridge or board-walks along the marsh river. The alternative is to either use the beach route providing the tide is right or to use the Sandlings Path around the perimeter of the marsh and through Dunwich forest.

The coastal erosion at Thorpeness makes it impossible to walk the beach at anything but low tide - even then it is now not always passable. A low tide of just 0.46m made it passable on 1st of May 2021 but the coast is rapidly changing and now threatening the houses above the cliff. Refer to Aldeburgh Tide Times. It should also be noted that the cliffs just north of the village are particularly unstable and dangerous with one fatality caused by a cliff fall in February 2017. Do not under any circumstance attempt to walk close to the base of these cliffs, even if there appears to be sufficient distance between the water and cliff. A cliff fall will catch you unawares and leave you with little or no time to escape. The alternative route is to either follow the official route waymarkers south of Sizewell Hall which navigate inland across the commons to Thorpeness or, continuing along the clifftop path from Sizewell Hall. This eventually leads down to the ness. Then follow the unmarked path just before the beach warning notice, up to the clifftop. Follow the path across the common and onto the road that leads in front of the clifftop houses. This will be the route of the proposed England Coast Path

During March 2013 a large section of Kessingland Beach was washed away close to the Benacre Sluice, south of village ( reported in the see Eastern Daily Press.) The path is still passable here but the coastal section from Benacre down to Southwold is ever changing. Only walk this around low tide and always consult tide tables before setting out on any beach section.

The beach section in front of Bawdsey Manor is currently impassable and the route from East Lane to Bawdsey Quay is now diverted along the road.

The coastline at Felixstowe can be walked throughout given the right state of tide. The official path avoids Cobbolds Point and is routed along the clifftop roads. The coastal path at this point should only be used at low tide.

January 2018 Update. Winter storm surges have made the beach section in front of Pakefield impassable at high tide. Consult tide times before embarking upon a walk along this beach section. See EADT article for report.

England Coast Path

The Suffolk Coast is expected to be included into the England Coast Path. There are currently proposals for the section from Aldeburgh to Hopton with other section proposals expected later during 2020. Hopefully agreements can be reached and the path implemented by 2020/2021 giving the walker complete coastal and estuary access from Languard Fort to the Norfolk border at Hopton. For full details and to keep up-to-date on the progress please refer to the England Coast Path website.

At the start of 2020 the proposals of the section between Aldeburgh and Hopton were published. This contains some welcome revisions to the present Suffolk Coast Path, realigning the path closer the the coast. Full details can be found at England Coast Path from Aldeburgh to Hopton-on-Sea: comment on proposals. A brief summary is described below:

England Coast Path Proposals - Aldeburgh to Hopton
England Coast Path Proposals - Aldeburgh to Hopton

Aldeburgh to Thorpeness - The Suffolk Coast Path presently skirts around the landward side of the town of Aldeburgh. The England Coast Path proposal is to start at the Fort Green Car Park on the southern side of the town and then take the seafront promenade known as Crag Path northwards out of town. This is currently all publicly accessible. Improvements will be made through to Thorpeness but keeping to the same general alignment as the present coast path

Thorpeness to Sizewell - The Coast Path was realigned some years ago to avoid the sea incursions along the beach to the north of Thorpeness which makes the beach impassable at most states of the tide. The present path uses inland public footpaths across the heath to rejoin the coast just south of Sizewell Hall. This is realigned to use North End Avenue to gain access onto Thorpeness Common at the end of which steps will be implemented down the cliff. This can presently be walked as permissive paths with a sandy path that leads down the cliff.

Sizewell to Dunwich Heath - The present footpath uses the coastal section throughout and, subject to minor amendments, this will be the same. There will be necessary changes required if the construction of the Sizewell C power station is given the go-ahead. Although the Coast Path will still be implemented, EDF, the corporate body who intend to construct the station, have admitted that there will be times when a diversion away from the coast is required. This will follow the road inland from Sizewell to join the main B1122 through to the junction with the Eastbridge road. Access back to the coast will be via the Eastbridge road into the village and then the present public footpath through to Minsmere Sluice. This is a significant 6 mile diversion for less than 2 miles of coast walking. Although EDF have stated that a footpath alongside the road will be implemented to the Eastbridge turn, it is far from ideal and is certainly not in keeping with the long distance trail. The road through to Eastbridge is of particular concern as this already has a lot of traffic and causes conflict between motorists and pedestrians due to its narrow nature. Unfortunately EDF intends to block up all other publicly accessible routes in this area and there will be no alternatives. Despite multiple appeals to this effect and objections submitted to the public consultations, EDF has failed to even acknowledge the issue.

Dunwich Heath to Walberswick - The route will follow the present path through to Walberswick with minor amendments and improvements. The only major change is between the Coastguard Cottages at Dunwich Heath and Greyfriars Wood at Dunwich. The present route uses public footpaths across the heath making an excursion inland. The England Coast Path proposal is to use a new footpath alongside the access road to the Dunwich Heath car park. This path was implemented several years ago and is presently publicly accessible. This also gives access to the Lost 12 Churches pub on the Cliff House touring site. Access across the River Blyth to Southwold will be via the present bailey bridge

Southwold to Kessingland - The present route between the two towns is largely extensive inland diversions caused by coastal erosion. Although the beach route enables the walker access throughout, this is restricted to tiems around low tide. The new Coast Path proposal is to keep to the coast as much as possible which makes a very welcome change. North of Southwold the route will navigate along the clifftop to Easton Broad. This can presently be permissively walked but there is no public footpath. The path will then use the beach in front of the broad to continue along the cliff to Covehithe Broad. Once again there will be a beach walk in front of the Broad and then a cliff top path to Benacre Broad with similar beach access. None of this is presently accessible apart from the beach sections. An alternative route will be provided around the broads for when tides make the beach inaccessible in front of the Broads. This will navigate an inland route around each individual Broad with additional access to the coast to the south of Covehithe broad, Covehithe village and north of Benacre Broad.

Kessingland to Lowestoft - The present Suffolk Coast Path uses an inland route between Kessingland and Pakefield. The proposal is to change this to a cliff top path throughout. Most of this is accessible as either permissive or public footpaths although there is no access to the south of Pakefield other than the beach which is restricted by tides. Once again this is a welcome change and keeps to the ethos of a Coast Path.

Lowestoft to Hopton - The present Suffolk Coast Path terminates at Lowestoft. The England Coast Path proposal continues through to Hopton to join the Norfolk Coast Path. This uses present permissive and public footpaths throughout and follows the coastline with the exception of the section through Corton where the route is required to use the road route through the village due to the eroding cliffs behind the houses.


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.

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: 2021-12-07

2012-04-20 : adjusted to take into account the relocation of the start of the Stour and Orwell Walk and the end to the Suffolk Coast Path
2013-03-19 : Add in route changes caused by 2013 coastal erosion. Also realign the dead links to Suffolk Coast and Heaths website
2018-04-02 : General text changes and updates to erosion and bus service information
2019-01-22 : Additional warnings of storm damage at Pakefield
2019-04-05 : Resolve link issues
2020-02-09 : Document England Coast Path proposals between Aldeburgh and Hopton
2021-03-17 : Update website improvements and removal of ViewRanger reliance
2021-05-01 : Highlight risks at Thorpeness
2021-12-01 : Removal of ViewRanger links due to its imminent demise


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