5 Truly Stunning Dunwich Walks In The Suffolk AONB
The tiny village of Dunwich is located on the Suffolk coast in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It has an extraordinary history but one of the best things about Dunwich is the incredibly rich and beautiful landscape surrounding it. For this reason, it really is best explored on foot.
We have some fabulous Dunwich walks of varying lengths to suit all abilities. Most of these walks around Dunwich we have done with small kids.
For the most part they are circular walks near Dunwich, starting from the Dunwich beach car park. This is a good place to start and finish your walk as you may want to use the facilities there or grab something to eat.
Whichever Dunwich walk you choose, you will be treated to vast open skies, unspoiled nature and and abundance of wildlife. Best of all, you will have the walk mostly to yourself as Suffolk remains one of the most undiscovered places in the UK.
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1. Dunwich Heath to Dunwich Beach walk
Distance: approx 4 miles
Time: 1 ½ to 2 hours, depending on your pace and not including any stops you may make
Terrain: easy / moderate with sandy paths, forest paths and shingle beach
Facilities: The Ship Inn, the Flora Tea Rooms and the National Trust Tea Rooms
This is a lovely loop and one of our favourite walks in Dunwich because it takes in the best of the Suffolk landscape with one of the most unspoiled, natural shingle beaches in Suffolk as well as beautiful heathland. It is one of the most family-friendly walks in Dunwich because there is no road walking involved. It also takes in the National Trust Dunwich Heath where there are family-friendly activities on offer.
1. Park at Dunwich beach car park (free but a donation is appreciated) and walk back up Beach Road to the triangle in the road. The Ship Inn will be on your right and to your left, you will see a footpath sign.
2. The footpath winds upwards taking you along the clifftop for about 150m where it passes the 13th century ruins of the Greyfriars Friary. You can pop in and read about the history of the friary.
3. Walk past the ruins and the path will re-enter the woodland (Greyfriars Wood). Shortly after, the path will take a right turn and you will head inland. Walk under the stone bridge and the path will turn into a residential road/gravel track. Walk along this road until you reach Westleton Road.
4. The footpath follows the road for about 50m and then it is signposted on the left. This path takes you on a residential road for a little way and then turns into a footpath through a continuation of Greyfriars Wood. The footpath will take you past Cliff House Holiday Park on your left (one of the best coastal campsites in the country and a top Suffolk campsite) and will lead you out onto Minsmere Road.
5. Cross over the road onto the footpath on the other side of the road and head left. This track follows Minsmere Road all the way up to the National Trust Dunwich Heath and Beach. In Spring, the heath will be bright yellow with the gorse in flower and in the Summer it will be awash with purple heather.
4. Enter the National Trust property turn immediately left following the cliff top path to the tea rooms. Watch out for the clues for kids along the way.
5. Once you reach the tea rooms you may want to stop for a snack and use the facilities before you pop down to the beach to head back along the beach to Dunwich Beach to complete your walk.
You can also do this in the reverse order.
This is a great (bracing) walk to do if you are looking for things to do in Suffolk at Christmas because you might have a chance of seeing Father Christmas at the Coastguard Cottages!
2. Dunwich to Walberswick walk
Distance: Approx 7 miles
Time: 1½ to 2 hours depending on your pace
Terrain: flat with well-maintained paths/track and shingle beach
Facilities: The Ship at Dunwich, the Flora Tea Rooms and The Anchor at Walberswick
This circular walk takes you out along the Suffolk Coastal Path, past an enormous freshwater reedbed with abundant wildlife to the beautiful village of Walberswick and back along the beach.
1. Park at the beach car park in Dunwich and walk back towards the village centre. Head towards St James’ Church and follow the road round to the right.
2. At Dingle Hill Tearoom, turn right following the Bridleway/Suffolk Coastal Path sign. Keep to the right of all buildings and head up the hill.
3. The track passes Dingle Stone House on your right and then Foxburrow Wood on you left. Here, the track takes a right turn and through a woodland area.
4. Keep on this track until you come to a wooden gate. Go through the gate and follow the track to the right and you will see Great Dingle Farm. The left track takes you to the farm and the right is the coastal path.
In the distance you will see Dingle Great Hill. Continue along the coastal path and it will pass through the reed beds and toward the sea and behind a mound. You will also see a disused red-brick windmill.
5. Once passed the mound, the path splits. You can either turn left and follow the path along Dunwich River toward Walberswick or right over Dingle Sluice and towards the sea and along the beach to Walberswick.
6. Stop at the Anchor or stop for a bit of crabbing (one of our recommended things to do in Suffolk with kids) or even take the Walbersiwck Ferry across to Southwold Harbour for a delicious lunch at the Sole Bay Fish Company.
If you are heading into Southwold, make sure to read our things to do in Southwold guide. It’s just a short walk from Southwold Harbour to Southwold. For more ideas on visiting Walberswick, see our detailed Walberswick guide.
7. The Walberswick to Dunwich walk returns to Dunwich by following the beach or the coastal path which you will find behind the shingle bank.
3. Dunwich Forest Walks
Terrain: Undulating with well-maintained paths/track
Facilities: The Ship at Dunwich, the Flora tea rooms and the Dingle Hill tearooms
There are several trails through Dunwich Forest so we haven’t listed a particular walk. The best thing about walks in Dunwich Forest is that the terrain is varied and will keep little ones entertained with its natural playground of fallen trees and den building opportunities.
1. Park at Dunwich beach car park and walk back towards the village centre and head towards St James’ Church. Follow the road around to the right and as the road bends to the left, you will see a bridleway (and entrance to the Dingle Hill Tea Rooms).
2. Continue up the bridleway and you will soon see an entrance into the forest. Dunwich Forest is to your left and Dunwich marshes and reedbeds are to your right.
3. You pick from numerous trails in the forest and then loop back taking the same bridleway back down to Dingle Hill tearooms. You can stop here for a light snack or continue to the Ship Inn for a drink or a meal.
4. Dunwich Pub walk
Distance: 8.5 miles
Time: 3 hours not taking into account stops
Terrain: Mostly flat with well-maintained paths/track
Facilities: The Ship at Dunwich and the Westleton Crown
If you are looking for pub walks in Dunwich, you can’t beat the Inn to Inn walk (or the Dunwich to Westleton walk). The walk starts from the Ship Inn and takes you across beautiful heathland to its sister pub in neighbouring Westleton, the Westleton Crown. They are two of the best Suffolk coastal pubs.
1. Park at the beach car park in Dunwich and walk back towards the village centre. Keeping The Ship at Dunwich and Dunwich museum on your left walk through the village until you reach St James Church. Cross straight over the road onto the footpath / bridleway.
2. Follow the bridleway for a little over a mile, walking past Sandy Lane Farm. The path will take you through woodland on Westleton Heath.
3. You will see signs for an archery course. Skirt around the archery course and head up a slight hill continuing through woodland towards the Dunwich Road. Near a small car park you will see a kissing gate. Cross the road here and go through the kissing gate on the opposite side.
4. Follow the path through Westleton Heath and it will bring you to Westleton Village. Here you will find the Westleton Crown and if you have timed it right, you will be just in time for lunch. Their food is excellent. If you don’t have time to stop for something to eat, you will at least have deserved a nice drink in their beer garden.
5. With your back to the Westleton Crown, take a left and follow the pavement round the bend and head down Mill Street. There is a little cut through road joining Baker’s Lane and Mill Street (also called Mill Street). Cross the road here and you will pick up a footpath heading towards Minsmere.
6. Your footpath will take you to Black Slough footpath where you will take a left. Follow this path as it takes you along the south side of Westleton Heath. When you hit Mount Pleasant Farm, you follow the track towards Westleton Road. Just before you hit the road, take a right and head along the footpath that runs alongside the road. This will bring you to Minsmere Road.
7. At the junction of Westleton Road and Minsmere Road, cross over the road and pick up a path through the woodland (Greyfriars Wood) in the direction of Dunwich.
5. Dunwich Heath gorse walk
Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Terrain: undulating but well-maintained paths/track
Facilities: The Coastguard Cottages Tea Room
If you are looking for Dunwich Heath walks, this is the one for you, taking in the best of the heath. We love National Trust walks because there is usually a lot to see and do. At Dunwich, look out for the family-friendly trail clues. Walks around Dunwich heath in the Spring will be awash with yellow and in the Summer you will see a sea of purple.
1. Park at the National Trust car park and from the information kiosk, head to the right hand side of the Coastguard Cottages and locate the marker post with a yellow banding.
2. Walk past the Sea Watch Hut on the right and keep the sea on your right. Continue towards the main entrance and cross over the zebra crossing and continue on into the heath. The track will take you around the perimeter of Dunwich Heath.
3. Following the yellow marker signs, you will head in an anti-clockwise direction, taking left turns around the heath
4. When you reach Nightjar Corner, you can stop and admire the wildlife. And remember, you are right on the border with Minsmere, one of the best bird watching areas in the country.
5. Carry on along the footpath passing Docwra’s Ditch, a wetland area, and head towards the coast. Just before reaching the coast, take a sharp left turn and head up the hill back to the Coastguard’s Cottages.
For more details on NT Dunwich walks, see the National Trust website.
More Dunwich walks ideas
If you are staying in Suffolk for longer and are keen to do more walks in the area, this guide has some excellent Suffolk walks for all abilities. You can also find a Dunwich footpath map here in case you want to make up your own route.
For a little pre-walk inspiration, make sure to check out Kate Humble’s Coastal Britain where, in Episode 6 she walks 11 miles of the Suffolk coast.