35 – Sutton Hoo and the Deben estuary 4.4 miles – 12th October

In short – a lovely Suffolk treat – this National Trust walk has everything: gorgeous river estuary views towards Woodbridge, rolling farmland, clear fresh air and lots of farm animals! Quite marshy and muddy in places which can only get worse in winter, so worth wearing proper sturdy boots – and long trousers as there were lots of low growing nettles. An absolutely terrific NT cafe in a super spot with great food and plentiful clean, pleasant public toilets. 2 hrs walking + 30 min pitstop (plus shopping in the lovely gift shop!).

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A mini break (24 hours) in Suffolk means taking advantage of a change of surroundings and trying out something new with a National Trust walk at Sutton Hoo, near Woodbridge, which is actually on our way back to North London.

I have already downloaded the map and instructions for this walk from the National Trust website. (It is called the Sutton Hoo long walk and states that it is 3 miles though it is definitely over 4). I am a member so can park here for free and similarly enter the site without charge – for non-members there is a price to pay for entry and parking.

This is a stunning site – amazing views – beautifully maintained as you would expect from the NT – and a fascinating slice of Anglo-Saxon history as well. Almost certainly well worth the price of entry albeit I can’t actually say what that currently is as we didn’t stop to look!

We make use of the public toilets just inside the main building – opposite the reception. We then start the walk from a path leading away at the back of this building from beside the terrace of the restaurant.

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We walk downhill along this wide grassy path to a T-junction with a lane at the bottom of the valley. Here we turn left and pass the Dairy Farm (helpfully signposted with a picture of a cow!) on our right. Immediately after the farm – and before the lane turns sharply left – we take a signed public footpath right.

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After a couple of buildings on either side the path opens out to cross a meadow heading towards the raised river wall ahead. We climb the steps up to the path that runs along the top of the wall to be met with the most beautiful and tranquil sight – punctuated only by the cries of the sea birds all along the estuary.

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Here we follow the path along the riverside and through Ferry Cliff Woods – stopping frequently to admire the views and take far too many photos!

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The path is very muddy in places and also a bit slippery as it crosses a few wooden bridges. There are also a couple of places where we have to duck very low as there are some immense low branches across the path.

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At the end of this path – as the woods start to peter out – we climb the slope to our left using the steps – and reach the top of the cliff. Here we turn left onto a bridle path along the edge of the field – with more stunning views all around.

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We follow the bridle path as it bends right around the edge of the field, with woods on our left. As the woods finish, the path continues around them keeping close to the treeline on our left until at the edge of this next field there is a public footpath off right once again keeping to the edge of this field – currently full of interesting looking greens.

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Again there are trees to our left and on reaching the end of them we should apparently cross the field ahead to a gap in the hedge on the far side but the path isn’t clearly marked so we decide instead to turn left and then right along the edge of this field emerging onto a lane a little beyond the track we should be on.

Here we bear left (not sharp left onto a farm track) and head across country on the estate road between wide open fields on both sides. At the second field there are literally hundreds of piglets which is really delightful to see together with a huge number of sows and we have great fun watching them run around. We are in very agricultural surroundings here and are passed by a couple of speeding tractors obviously unused to the road being used by walkers!

After about a mile we turn left just in front of the main road to take a track through some woodland which runs parallel to the road. At the end of the track we turn left – opposite a road junction on our right – and head back parallel to the estate road we were previously on – on the far side of the same fields.

At the end of the first huge field – just as the field with the pigs comes into view on our left – we see the National Trust sign ahead and take the path beside it onto NT land. After a few yards we turn right through a gate and find ourselves on one of the Sutton Hoo circular paths through the estate. This path is lovely – passing through light woodland with amazing valley views to our left.

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We pass a semi-circular set of benches and then the Gar seat – which is like half a boat turned on it’s end. Ignoring the path left to Tranmer house – a rather uninspiring looking building to be honest – we head straight for the cafe as we are pretty ravenous by now!

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A delicious bowl of parsnip and apple soup with very fresh crusty granary bread, followed by a delicious cappuccino on the lovely outside deck and we are well fortified for the journey home (after a successful browse in the well-stocked little gift shop).

Very well worth the detour if you are anywhere near this part of the country – it will live long in the memory!!

 

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