Suffolk Boxing Day Walk: Thorpeness (4.5 miles)
Starting beside the Meare at the centre of the village, it’s hard not to feel as if you’re walking through a film set.
The walk below appears exactly as it does in our book, Suffolk Year Round Walks, complete with map, pictures and step-by-step directions. You can even click here to download it and take it with you.
Mock-Tudor houses, the Meare boating lake, a water tower disguised as a house and a windmill were part of an early 1900s development by the Ogilvie family. The 64-acre boating lake had a Peter Pan theme and children still enjoy visiting the fort and Wendy house on two of the many islands. The middle section of the walk is through carefully managed conservation areas of woodland, heath and grazed marsh areas. Bracing sea breezes can necessitate walking in the shelter of the sandbank on the return route along the coast back to Thorpeness with its choice of many warming refreshment stops.
- Terrain: A flat walk on firm sandy tracks with no stiles.
- How to get there/parking: Enter the village on the B1353, looking out for the Meare and its car park in the village centre on your right if coming from the north or left if approaching from nearby Aldeburgh. There is on-street parking in The Haven road next to the Meare or in the pay and display car park.
- Sat Nav: IP16 4NN
- Refreshments: Opposite the Meare is The Kitchen. The Meare Shop and Tearoom and The Dolphin are also close to the route.
1 Walk north along the road and turn second left onto Uplands Road. This is a stone driveway leading to several houses and the Thorpeness Golf Club. Pass the House in the Clouds and the windmill.
2 Turn right at a footpath waymark just after passing the golf club flag to walk through woodland with the clubhouse on the left and golf course on the right. The path is beside the watery channels of the Hundred River at one end of the Meare.
3 At the footpath junction, Sheepwash Crossing, turn left and join the Sandlings Walk on the old railway line. This is also the RSPB’s North Warren reserve.
4 Turn right at the first footpath waymark continuing to follow the Sandlings Walk waymark into a mixed woodland area.
5 Turn right again at a footpath waymark in the woods.
6 Turn left at a footpath waymark that is a tall metal post with a dragonfly on top and leave the Sandlings Walk route.
7 Reach Maplestead Cottage and turn left on a footpath also used as a reserve access track.
8 Arrive back at point 5 and continue straight on to shortly meet the old railway track at point 4 and turn right to walk along it. Continue along this straight path until the Sandlings Walk footpath crosses it.
9 Turn left and walk to the road past some more fenced conservation areas. Cross the road carefully and walk towards the sea.
10 Turn left on the tarmac path to follow the Suffolk Coast Path. The path soon becomes a wide grass area. Walk to the right side of this to enjoy views of the sea as you make your way back to Thorpeness. At the first house bear right to walk between the gardens and the sea on a wide sand track.
11 At the white sign saying that dogs are not allowed on this part of the beach from May to September, turn left and walk up the duckboards to a car park.
Bear right on reaching the car park at a footpath waymark to avoid having to walk on the road. Return to the road past the Thorpeness Emporium to arrive back opposite the Meare car park.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
‘When gorse is out of bloom kissing it out of season’. This is an old saying because gorse stays in flower for most of the year although they are at their best during the later winter months. The bright golden flowers of the gorse bushes lift the spirits at this time of year. This spiny evergreen shrub is found in disturbed areas, grasslands, wastelands and coastal habitats as it is very tolerant of maritime exposure and can be used as a windbreak hedge in the most exposed positions. The flowers have a heady aroma of coconut and vanilla that makes a wonderful flavouring for homemade wine or spirits. In the past the flowers have been used to produce a yellow dye although picking the flowers amongst the minefield of thorns on the bushes can be difficult.
- Alex Batho