Distance: approx. 4.5 miles
Time: 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your pace
Terrain: varied. Mainly flat, woodland paths with short gentle climb
Stops: The Ship at Dunwich
Ordinance Survey Map: Explorer 231
Start point OS reference: 478 706
From the beach car park this route heads inland along leafy bridleways and through the woods of Dunwich Forest. Although much of the planted stock in this area is coniferous, giving a background of consistent pine, it is a walk with infinite variety as the hedgerows and deciduous glades constantly change with the seasons. During spring and early summer the swathes of gorse add an extra dimension with their vibrant yellow flowers and sweet aroma. On the return section of the route there are a couple of gentle climbs that ultimately lead to great views over Dunwich and toward the sea. Summer is also a great time to make sure you visit the garden of The Ship at Dunwich as it is home to England’s oldest fig tree – believed to be over 600 years old – and it looks magnificent in full leaf.
1. Park at the beach car park in Dunwich and walk back towards the village centre. Keeping The Ship and then the museum on you left walk through the village until you reach St. James Church. At this point the road bends to the right (ignore the junction immediately after the church) with a bridleway directly in front of you. Take the bridleway.
2. Follow the bridleway passing Walnut Tree and Apple Tree cottages on you left, and then a residence marked as Sandy Lane Farm on the map, on your right. Continue past the farm for a short while until you meet a fork in the path where you turn right.
3. Continue straight ahead along a broad open path with the tall pine trees to your right. After a short walk you will enter an area of mixed woodland and meet a sign ‘Welcome to Westleton Heath Nature Reserve’ – keep right.
4. After approx. 250 yards you will reach another sign (seeing the back of it) turn right here and follow the path for approx. 350yds to point 5.
5. Turn right at the sign ‘Public footpath over Private land’ follow this path. After a short stretch you will emerge to an open area. There are wooden horse jumps to your left and beyond the jumps, to your right a patch of gorse. The path passes behind the gorse and follows the left edge of the field.
6.At the bottom of the field the path bears left into a patch of woodland and over a wooden footbridge after which the path rises.
7. At the top of the hill you reach a bench –turn right and then keep to the left as the path forks and follow the path for approx 200yds to point 8
8. After approx. 200 yds (moving up a slight hill) the path forks. Take the right fork and follow for approx. 200yds to the track at point 9
9. Go directly over the track (do not turn right) and follow the path. Keeping straight on after approx. 100yds the path narrows and passes through a long stretch of gorse.
10. Emerging from the gorse turn right and follow the path down the hill.
11. The path passes over an area of boardwalk before emerging by Sandy Lane Farm.
12. At the farm turn left and retrace your steps back to the start of the route.
Walk by Places&Faces