Welcome to the VIRTUAL
Suffolk Walking Festival 2021!
Saturday 22 May – Monday 31 May
The Suffolk Walking Festival is one of the country’s largest and longest running walking events. In May we normally have over 100 walks and events for you to enjoy over a 3-week period. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we have cancelled this year’s guided event, but are delighted to launch the very first VIRTUAL Suffolk Walking Festival!
The new 10-day virtual festival will have a changing daily programme and sees the launch of a brand new Suffolk Walking Festival podcast.
COMPETITION NOW CLOSED – Complete our survey to enter the draw to win 4 tickets to next year’s festival, a year’s subscription to the Suffolk Magazine and £30 of vouchers for the East of England Co-op!
I hope you enjoy the first Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival and we look forward to greeting and leading you again in 2022.
A message from our patron
Although the Suffolk Walking Festival can’t happen as a group activity this year I`m thrilled it’s going ahead online. Walking is something most of us have been able to do through the lockdowns and so hopefully more of you than ever will have a look and head out on some of the walks that are featured.
I know many people have discovered places near to their homes that they had never enjoyed before – and this is an opportunity to get out and discover bits of our lovely county that you’ve not visited before. It’s also a chance for you to tell us about your favourite bits of Suffolk. Getting into our countryside and enjoying the birds, flowers and wildlife is so good for the soul as we have learnt. Thank you David Falk and team for making this happen.
Producer/Presenter BBC Radio Suffolk
Friday 28th May
The Stour and the Orwell
Welcome to day 7 of the Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival!
Today see where rivers meet the sea at Trimley on the banks of the River Orwell, at Landguard overlooking the North Sea, and at Shotley beside the River Stour. Enjoy short videos of nature in the Stour Valley and an impressive 24-hour walk along the Suffolk coast.
Suffolk Walking Festival Podcast
If you love walking and Suffolk, then this is the podcast for you! In our brand new Suffolk Walking Festival Podcast, David Falk (Festival Director) walks and talks with all sorts of people including authors, broadcasters, wildlife experts, and academics to discover why walking in Suffolk is so special.
For our forth episode David went to the beautiful Brandon Country Park, for a chat with Dr Mike Brock, Senior Lecturer in Microeconomics at the University of East Anglia. Listen in for a fascinating discussion about peoples’ differing attitudes and approaches to walking in the countryside, and how behavioural economics can influence them.
walk of the day
Every day we will introduce you to a different fabulous place to walk in Suffolk. We will tell you a bit about it (including the approximate distance of the walk and roughly how long it might take) and you will be able to download the full Discover Suffolk walks leaflet for a map and other suggested routes in the area. You can find all of the Discover Suffolk walks, plus loads more information about getting outdoors in Suffolk, on the Discover Suffolk website.
Day 7 – Trimley – A Circular Walk Around Trimley Marshes
Distance = Approx. 6 miles (9.5km)
Time = Approx. 3 – 4 hours
Trimley Marshes make for a wonderful day out with some beautiful scenery, fascinating history and one of the best wildlife sites in the county.
The Trimley Circular Walk guides you around the 3,400 acre estate owned by Trinity College, Cambridge, past Felixstowe Port with over 125 years of history, Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve with its mosaic of habitats, and Loompit Lake with its impressive colony of cormorants. Please note, there are no toilet facilities on this walk.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Trimley Marshes Nature Reserve is a mosaic of habitats covering 77 hectares (200 acres). This is a wetland of international importance and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), making it one of the best wildlife sites in the county. The reserve was created from arable land in 1990 and is traditionally managed with grazing cattle and sheep. The marshes are a haven for wildlife and in spring and autumn the muddy margins make excellent feeding grounds for migrating waders such as sandpiper, curlew and greenshank. In winter you will see wigeon and brent geese grazing on the marshes, and redshank, avocet, oystercatcher and black-tailed godwit wading on the mudflats.
From the bird hides keep a watchful eye for otters and water vole. In the lagoon and on its islands look out for coot, tufted duck, teal and pochard mingling with cormorant, little egrets, gadwall and shoveler. The islands are ideal nesting sites for avocet, ringed plover and tufted duck. The network of dykes are fringed with reeds. Look out for little grebe, moorhen and both reed and sedge warblers, as well as Britain’s largest hawker dragonfly, the emperor. Look above for Marsh Harriers and Buzzards, and over the estuary for gulls and terns. At dusk you will often see barn owls hunting for their next meal. The reserve and hides are open at all times, although the visitor centre is open seasonally. Contact 01473 890 089 or visit the Suffolk Wildlife Trust website for more details.
The walk links by foot and by public transport with the Landguard and Felixstowe Walk. That is another fascinating walk which leads you from one of Europe’s best shingle beaches, past the location of England’s last foreign invasion, to historic Landguard Fort. All walks offer a wonderfully diverse day out.
easy going trail of the day
Discover Suffolk has developed 18 easy to follow trails to help everyone get close to nature in Suffolk’s countryside. Each trail is designed to be straightforward to follow and on generally level ground. You can find information about all of the Easy Going Trails on the Discover Suffolk website.
Each day throughout the festival we will pick one of our favourite easy going trails and will tell you a bit about it and give you a link to download the full leaflet. We will also tell you what facilities are available to make your trip easier.
Day 7 – Landguard Point
Distance = up to 2.5 miles (4km)
Feel the sea spray on your face as you enjoy one of Suffolk’s best shingle beaches in the shadow of Landguard Fort.
Landguard Point makes for a dramatic setting, nestled beside the seaside town of Felixstowe, with views across the Rivers Stour and Orwell towards Harwich Harbour and the impressive Port of Felixstowe. The Point, one of the driest places in Britain, contains a 33 acre Nature Reserve of vegetated shingle which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Marvel at the 400 year old fort and don’t miss visiting the fascinating local history museum.
The walks here are all very easy to follow. All are on firm paths, remnants of the days when this was a military stronghold. A stretch of boardwalk provides easy access right on to the single beach with wonderful views out to sea.
- Accessible toilets
- Picnic area
- Shop at the museum
did you know……..
Elizabeth Cobbold was a keen geologist. She was married to John Cobbold and they lived in a house at Holywells park in Ipswich. She collected fossil shells found in the Red Crag Sands on the estate. One of the fossils (Nucula Cobboldiae) was named after her and included in the first volume of the Mineral Conchology of Great Britain.
You can find out lots more information about Holywells Park from the Friends of Holywells Park website
In August 2014 4 people decided to walk 60 miles from Lowestoft to Felixstowe in 24 hours to raise money for Suffolk Family Carers! One of those people (BBC Radio Suffolk presenter Lesley Dolphin) tells us about why they undertook the challenge and what the experience was like.
This video is shared courtesy of
BBC Radio Suffolk
Join Emma Black and her colleagues from the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Stour Valley, to hear how to get out and about in the Stour Valley’s beautiful rolling hills, woodlands, country parks and nature reserves.
You can find out more information about this beautiful part of Suffolk at https://www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org/
where am I?
Every day throughout the festival we will be asking you to guess ‘where am I?’ We will give you facts about our mystery location and you can find out the answer the following day.
BIG CLUE: all the destinations have Discover Suffolk walk leaflets…….
- The fort is one of England’s best preserved coastal defences, and the site of the last opposed seabourne invasion of the country in 1667.
- The pier was once a stopping point for ‘Belle’ paddle steamers travelling between London and Great Yarmouth.
- The amusement park once had a menagerie with a monkey island!
- In 1936 Wallace Simpson lived here whilst waiting for the abdication of King Edward VIII.
- The town has a museum, a bird observatory, a nature reserve, and is home to the UK’s busiest container port!
You can download your free FAB40 guide (opens a PDF document in a new window) and tick off your activities as you go.
The guide may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Contact us to ask for help and request an accessible format.
ACTIVITY 7 – Watch a very special show – ‘Strictly Skydancing’
my Suffolk your Suffolk
Every day throughout the festival we’ve asked people to tell us about their favourite Suffolk walk. Here, we will bring you their personal stories about what makes it special and why they love it.
Today we have two people telling us about walks in Shotley. First is A Health Walk Around Shotley Gate, from Gary Richens (a Festival Walk Leader and Health Walk Leader with One Life Suffolk); and the second is A Shotley Point Stroll, from Geraint Pugh (another Festival Walk Leader)
A Health Walk Around Shotley with Gary Richens
For the past three years I have been a Health Walk Leader with the Onelife Suffolk team. The Health Walk around Shotley Gate is an easy 2.5km walk and takes about an hour and a half at a gentle pace, though I like to stop often and breathe in the sea air, check out the birdlife and soak up the incredible atmosphere. This area is teeming with birdlife thanks to our two tidal river estuaries; the Orwell and the Stour. Whatever the time of day or weather conditions the walk delivers superb views across fields, saltmarshes, mudflats and of course these two mighty rivers.
From the bottom of Bristol Hill, Shotley Gate, head East towards Shotley Marina. Cross the lock and continue around the Marina. At the far side of the Marina take the left pathway heading alongside the fence and the field edge. At the end of this well maintained footpath is the Shotley Road. Turn left and after about 80 metres turn right through the cut through between the houses. After a short distance on the pavement head through the swinging gate into Ganges Wood. Follow the path to the right, cross the road and continue through the next swinging gate, a continuation of Ganges Wood.
As you exit the woodland you will see the RSPB bird reserve of Erwarton Bay alongside the River Stour. Across the water is the County of Essex. Follow the path until you come to a ‘path crossroad’. Straight on takes you through Shotley Heritage Park, an 8-acre woodland. If you follow this path there are a number of interesting viewing points to stop and rest. There are signposts to take you down to the riverside walk via a set of steps, and back to Bristol Hill and the start of the walk. Or, at the ‘path crossroad’, turn right and go downhill for about 200 metres, then take a left onto the coastal path. This part of the coastal route is quite uneven so please take care until the path becomes good again further along. Continuing along this coastal path will take you back to the start point at Bristol Hill. There are plenty of benches to rest at en-route and the walk ends at the Bristol Hill picnic area. Enjoy the walk!
The Shotley Point Stroll with Geraint Pugh
This is an easy 5km circular walk that takes you alongside the River Stour at Shotley Gate, through Shotley Heritage Park and into the RSPB reserve at Erwarton Bay. The walk continues around farmland back towards Shotley Gate and down to Shotley Marina. The majestic River Orwell looks magnificent with Felixstowe Docks within touching distance across the water. Returning to the starting point through Shotley Marina is delightful, and on a warm summer’s day you could easily think this was on the banks of the Mediterranean with yachts gently bobbing on their moorings.
Starting from the bottom of Bristol Hill opposite the Bristol Arms at Shotley Gate, head west through the picnic area and follow the coastal path for about a mile until the path turns onto the field edge. Keep going left up to a small cluster of buildings (known as the Brickyards) and take the right fork up the dirt road until you reach Shotley Cottage and the footpath sign. Turn right and head towards the east, with the view of the cranes at the Port of Felixstowe and the River Orwell coming into view. At the end of the dirt lane you reach the main Shotley Road. Turn right and follow the road until you come to Gate Farm Road on the left. Just after this turning is a footpath sign left down another dirt track pathway. Head down this path which will open up into field views across Shotley Marshes, the River Orwell and Felixstowe Docks. The end of the path emerges at Shotley Marina. Take the right hand fork and head around the marina to the lock. Continue across the lock and follow the footpath out of the marina back to the starting point at Bristol Hill.
To find out more about walking in the Shotley area, check out the Shotley Open Spaces website.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) advice
If you’re using Suffolk’s public rights of way or open access network please stay local, stick to areas you are familiar with, and make sure that you comply with government social distancing guidelines at all times. Please stick to the public rights of way and avoid trespassing.