12 Suffolk winter wonderland walks

A view across Snape Marshes nature reserve, Suffolk,

A view across Snape Marshes nature reserve in Suffolk. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Wrap up warm and head outside for some fresh air and a bracing walk. Just the thing to blow away the cobwebs and give you an appetite for more of those Christmas treats. Here are some favourite places we've enjoyed this year.

Ickworth

The Monument Walk is a 6 miles/9km circular trail on the Ickworth estate and is great for exploring the wider parkland in any weather, all year round, whether you're walking, cycling or running off the Christmas pud. Explore open parkland, woodland glades, see the lovely Ickworth estate church, the Walled Garden and the obelisk monument, erected in 1817 by the people of Derry as a memorial to Frederick Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol. You'll also see Parson's pond, Albana Wood, the canal lake, and Fairy lake. Suitable for active families who want to stretch their legs a little further. For a shorter walk you could do the River Linnert trail (good for buggies and mobility scooters) which is about 3.5 miles/5km.

Idyllic scenes at Ickworth Park in Horringer after a light dusting of snow.

The Monument Walk is a 6 miles/9km circular trail on the Ickworth estate. - Credit: Phil Morley

Location: Ickworth, The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk IP29 5QE
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 3 hours
Distance: 5.8 - 6 miles/9.3 - 9.6 km
Map: OS Landranger 155
Dogs allowed
Details: nationaltrust.org.uk

Dunwich Heath and Beach

This is a wonderful place to walk after you've been cooped up indoors. The walk takes you over Dunwich Heath, a rare and precious habitat, the peace and tranquillity of the woodland, and the raw beauty of the beach. Stretch your legs, fill your lungs and look to the far horizon. Along the walk you'll see Dunwich village (The Ship Inn is recommended), Mount Pleasant Farm, Greyfriars monastery.

Dunwich Heath is a wild and wonderful place to walk.

Dunwich Heath is a wild and wonderful place to walk. - Credit: Justin Minns

Location: Dunwich Heath, Suffolk IP17 3DJ
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2 hours
Distance: 5 miles/8 km
Map: OS Landranger 156
Dogs allowed
Details: nationaltrust.org.uk

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Flatford

Explore the landscapes of the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale made famous by the 18th-century paintings of John Constable who was born and raised at East Bergholt. Take a walk along the river and through the meadows, see the mill which John Constable made famous in his paintings. This walk starts at Manningtree Station but you could shorten it by starting at the Field Centre and just walking the circular route.

Dedham to Flatford along the banks of the river Stour Picture: SIMON PAGE

Willy Lotts Cottage at Flatford, along the banks of the river Stour. - Credit: Simon Page

Location: Flatford, Flatford Rd, East Bergholt, CO7 6UL
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2.5 hours or 3.75 hours 
Distance: 4 - 7 miles/6.4 - 11.2 km
Map: OS Landranger 168; OS Explorer 196
Dogs allowed
Details: nationaltrust.org.uk

Thornham 

Thornham Walks is a landscaped parkland criss-crossed by 12 miles of paths - plenty of room to go exploring. It's an excellent location whatever the time of year. Look out for the restored Walled Garden (open weekends and holidays but check Christmas opening) with its fruit trees and colourful herbaceous borders, a bird hide, a folly and the pet cemetery with its intriguingly named pets. There’s an easy 1.3 mile trail ideal for families which starts near the car park, where there's also a children’s play area.

Walking among the trees in winter at Thronham.

Walking among the trees in winter at Thronham. - Credit: Jeffrey Norman

Location: Thornham Walks, Thornham IP23 8HH
Details: discoversuffolk.org.uk

Beccles 

This is a short winter walk by the Waveney, just the thing to blow away the cobwebs. The 1.5 mile walk is a combination of tarmac and natural paths. There's free parking Beccles Quay where you start the walk and where there’s a useful information centre (check for opening times). From here you stroll along the paths amongst the grazing meadows and along the River Waveney.

Beccles Quay bathed in winter sunshine.

Beccles Quay bathed in winter sunshine. - Credit: citizenside.com

Location: The Quay, Fen Lane, NR34 9BH
Details: discoversuffolk.org.uk

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Snape to Iken

This walk is short but it can be challenging, depending on the time of year. Start at Snape Maltings and stroll along the shores of the River Alde until you reach Iken village. Fllow the directions to St Boltoph's church, a beautiful thatched church with a fascinating history. Have your wellies at the ready as this walk gets muddy in winter - also, don't forget your camera. The views over the reeds and the Alde are beautiful. 

The River Alde at Snape Photo: Matt

The River Alde at Snape - Credit: Matt Jolly

Location: Snape Maltings, Snape Bridge, Snape IP17 1SP
Details & map: suffolkcoastandheaths.org

Walberswick

A variety of walks take you around the Marshes with the option of going through the reedbed or the forest. Start near the public toilets in the village and head to Hoist Covert where the footpaths strikes out through woodland and meadow margins, picking up part of the Sandlings Walk and returning via Dunwich Forest and the Suffolk Coast Path, or straight through the reedbeds of the nature reserve. 

Walberswick beach

Walberswick on a beautiful day. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Location: Walberswick Public Toilets, Ferry Road, Walberswick IP18 6TU
Difficulty: Moderate
Distance: Route via the reedbed: 7.6miles/12.2km
Route via the forest:8.3miles/13.3km
Time: 4hrs 
Details & map: suffolkcoastandheaths.org

Orford

Take your choice of two lovely circular walks - Across the Marshes to the Castle or a River and Village Stroll. Both routes take in the tranquil quayside towards Chantry Point. The longer route wanders along the river wall before turning back inland towards 12th century Orford Castle, with its excellent views of the village and surrounding countryside. The shorter route meanders back to the village via Chantry Marshes.

Orford Castle

Orford Castle is the focus for walks around the town. - Credit: BARRY PULLEN/IWITNESS

Location: Orford Quay, Orford IP12 2NU
Distance: 4miles/6.5km or 2miles/3.5km
Time: 2hours or 1 hour
Difficulty: Moderate
Details & map: suffolkcoastandheaths.org

Sudbury Valley Trail

This three-mile stretch starting from Sudbury town centre is positively teeming with wildlife; there are ditches, pools, streams and water-meadows all just waiting to be explored. Take a meander along the banks of the Stour and linger to admire the incredible brick bridges and wartime defences. The Meadow Walk is a gentle four-mile circular walk, the first part of the Gainsborough Trail, named after the famous painter Thomas Gainsborough who was born in Sudbury. It features Sudbury’s ancient water meadows, and along the route you will also discover remnants of Sudbury’s industrial heritage and stunning views.

Sudbury Gainsborough Statue.

Sudbury, birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough offers a variety of walks. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Location: Sudbury CO10 1JT
Details & maps: this route and other walks at sudburytowncouncil.co.uk/walking

Bury St Edmunds

A walk in Bury St Edmunds lets you immerse yourself into the historical wonders of the town and appreciate its uniqueness. The highlight of this walk is the Gothic tower of St Edmundsbury Cathedral that appears to float above the rooftops providing stunning photographs from several vantage points. The route also takes you through some of Burys’ backstreets and alleyways and past well-known landmarks such the gardens and ruins of a once great Benedictine Abbey, the Theatre Royal, Greene King brewery and St Mary’s Churchyard.

The Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds are a lovely place to walk in winter. 

The Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds are a lovely place to walk in winter. - Credit: Sue Warren

Location: various routes around Bury St Edmunds
Details, walks and maps: visit-burystedmunds.co.uk/

Clare Castle Country Park

Only a two-minute walk from the picturesque, historic town centre, Clare Castle Country Park is a beautiful and peaceful area perfect for a relaxing walk to get close to nature and learn about Clare’s fascinating history. There are various walks you can do of varying lengths and ease, all within the setting of the charming town, park and ruins of an ancient castle.

Clare Country Park has a variety of walks for all seasons.

Clare Country Park has a variety of walks for all seasons. - Credit: Tudor Morgan-Owen

Location:  Malting Ln, Clare, Sudbury CO10 8NW
Details, walks and maps: clarecastlecountrypark.co.uk

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Ipswich

What could be better than a stroll around beautiful Christchurch Park in all its winter glory, or fill your lungs with fresh air striding out along Nacton Shores at Orwell Country Park. In the park you can stroll through the arboretum, wander through the rambling parkland, admire the mansion and the park's superb trees. There's a terrific kids' playground. At Nacton shores you can wander along the river, explore the woodland paths, and enjoy breath-taking views of the beautiful River Orwell. Sunsets here are magnificent.

Snowy scenes on Christchurch Park.Pic Lucy Taylor

Snowy scenes on Christchurch Park. - Credit: Lucy Taylor

Location: Christchurch Park Bolton Ln, Ipswich IP4 2BX.
Orwell Country Park, IP10 0JS or IP3 0ET
Details & maps: ipswich.gov.uk/services/christchurch-park
ipswich.gov.uk/content/about-orwell-country-park