Sandlings Heath once sprawled across huge expanses of Suffolk. Today, it is fragmented and much has been lost to plantation, housing, and intensive farming over the years. Landowners and conservationists are working hard to restore and maintain what remains of this beautiful and rare habitat.
The Sandlings Walk is a long-distance 59-mile path from the outskirts of Ipswich to Southwold. It really is a mixed bag of everything that makes the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape so special.
The colours of the landscape evolve through the seasons making it a delight all-year-round. The Sandlings route is marked by silver plaques with the logo of a Nightjar which is a rare ground nesting heathland bird that hunts for moths and insects at dusk and dawn and the male makes a very distinct churring noise.
To enjoy shorter sections of the route, pick a town or visitor hub along the way to start/finish your walk, such as Woodbridge, Rendlesham Forest, Thorpeness or Dunwich Heath.
There are so many highlights along the way. Starting outside of Ipswich, the route crosses heathland that is nestled between residential areas giving a contrast of the old and the new. From there you pick up the River Deben, a river of a major significance for birds including the redhshank, the flagship species of the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape.
The Sandlings Walk stretches along the Deben from Martlesham Creek all the way to Melton, passing through the hugely popular market town of Woodbridge. Once you leave the Deben you are transferred to another world of forests and ancient woodland from Rendlesham to Tunstall and peaceful agricultural scenery.
The Sandlings then takes you to historic Snape Maltings, one of the country's finest music venues and a spectacular visitor attraction with its wildlife rich estuary, pubs, cafes and shops, before exploring more countryside and farmland.
Once you reach Thorpeness, you will catch a glimpse of the House in the Clouds on the horizon and you are back on idyllic heathland full of heather, gorse and colours and smells that evolve with the seasons, before reaching the coast at Sizewell beach and then Minsmere, an area of international importance to birds. The landscape is full of shingle beach, sand dunes, reeds, marshes and sea defences that are left over from war time.
After you have headed back in-land you will reach Dunwich Heath, one of the area's most spectacular landscapes offering glorious views out to sea. After crossing the glorious heathland you drop down through woodland to Walberswick, a picture-perfect village and then you cross over to Southwold where the route ends, but your adventure really begins!
Long Distance Walking Maps
Enjoy the challenge of a long distance walk (or three!). This Cicerone guide to walking each of the three long distance routes is available to purchase from us for £12.95.
To order please send us a cheque made out to Suffolk County Council and we will pop one in the post to you.
All proceeds from the sale of these books go to the Community Conservation Fund which funds conservation projects in the area.