In short: lovely coastal loop during a murky Suffolk based half term. Varied walk across shingle path, marsh and through woodland. Lovely old fashioned cafe and clean well-appointed public toilets. 1 hr 30 mins walking (including lots of stops for photos) + 30 min pitstop.
We are in Suffolk again for a few days at half term so my youngest is once again my walking companion – this time with the added incentive of my mother-in-law’s dog, Maisie. Despite the miserable grey weather we are in need of a breath of fresh sea air and so we head along the coast to Thorpeness. There is a pay and display car park here but we are lucky and secure a free space along the road beside the Meare (the local beauty spot and boating lake), postcode IP16 4NW.
We pass the little duck pond beside the Meare and make use of the beautifully clean public toilets in the block beside the cafe. We then cross the road and take the turning, ‘The Dune’, alongside the Kitchen@Thorpeness building. We turn right within a few yards where there is a footpath sign onto a path which soon skirts the edge of the car park.
We are supposed to take the second boardwalk on our left (dogs aren’t allowed on the main part of the beach) but we somehow miss this and continue along the same footpath in front of the beachside residences. Just before the end of the houses there is a fenced path alongside a stunning new house – all glass and cutting edge design. We take this path and then turn right onto a second path which runs just behind the shingle beach to the end of the houses.
This brings us to a more open area of grass and shingle – the footpath isn’t clear here but it’s all good for walking on. We continue ahead in the general direction of Aldeburgh which we can see in the distance. After about 500 metres the path nearest to the road becomes tarmacced, just beside a small parking area for a few cars and there is a footpath sign on the opposite side of the road. We cross the road here and pass through a gate beside the signpost.
Here we take the path straight ahead between some bushes past a sign for the RSPB North Warren reserve and onto the marshes. Despite being only a few yards from the main road here we immediately feel like we are miles from anywhere – it’s beautiful, even on a miserable day. Cows graze on the marshland and there is a lot of colour in the bushes all around us.
We follow this path through a dogleg right and then left to a junction of paths where we turn right onto the ‘permissive footpath’ which is apparently an old railway line.
For a short while we are in a shallow cutting with slopes up on both sides and then we enter some pretty woodland. We continue straight on this path passing streams and ponds amongst the trees until we come to two red brick houses and another footpath junction. We turn right here at the footpath sign.
The path is now passing the Meare to our right and Thorpeness golf course on our left until we emerge alongside the putting green and the pro shop at the golf clubhouse. The famous landmarks the House in the Clouds and the Thorpeness windmill are ahead to the left and right of us here as we cross part of the car park and take the track that heads to the windmill.
This track becomes a lane with houses on the right, the entrance to the (private) House in the Clouds on the left – it’s very puddly (which Maisie loves) – and the houses are really pretty so it’s a joy to walk along. At the end of this lane we turn right at the main road, The Whinlands, which brings us back to the Meare where we started and the lovely, old fashioned, cafe. There are seats outside facing onto the Meare and the hired rowing boats – a perfect setting for a fish finger bap and a basket of chips!