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
Saturday 29th May
The Deben Estuary
Welcome to day 8 of the Virtual Suffolk Walking Festival!
Today, unearth the secrets of the Deben peninsular along a trail following in the footsteps of an Anglo-Saxon King, visit the site of an Anglo-Saxon burial at Sutton Hoo and listen to a podcast about the making of the film The Dig, and find out more about a favourite walk along the River Deben.
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 8 – Rendlesham and the Deben Valley – In the Footsteps of Kings
Distance = Approx. 7 miles (11km)
Time = Approx. 2 hours
The now tranquil Deben valley was once at the heart of the East Anglian Anglo-Saxon Kingdom and holds many hidden archaeological secrets. This area of Suffolk is famous for the princely ship burial discovered at Sutton Hoo in 1939, but more recently a long-lost royal settlement has been found at Rendlesham.
This royal settlement, or vicus regius, is first mentioned in the 8th century by the venerable Bede, a Northumbrian monk, in his book The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. He writes that it was here that Aethelwold, King of the East Angles, sponsored the baptism of Swithelm, King of the East Saxons, sometime between AD 655 and 663. Archaeological investigations at Rendlesham identified the site of the royal settlement in 2008 and has since revealed that it was active for almost 300 years, from the 5th to 8th centuries. Covering 50 hectares, the size of 70 football pitches, it is the largest and wealthiest settlement of its time known in England. To find out more about the ongoing investigations at Rendlesham visit the Suffolk Heritage Explorer website.
These walks take you through the Deben Valley across open fields, through meadows and into woodland. There are two options: a circular walk to Rendlesham, or a long distance station to station walk following a section of the waymarked East Suffolk Lines Walk.
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 8 – Rendlesham Forest
Distance = 3 miles (5km)
Wheelchair Accessible with assistance
Rendlesham Forest offers a wonderful day out for all the family. There are numerous trails to follow and an amazing play area complete with climbing frames, log tunnels and adventure courses.
This is the area of Suffolk known as the Sandlings with loose sandy soils, creating a forest mix of conifers and broad leaf trees with open heathland and wetlands all providing great bird watching opportunities.
Rendlesham Forest is infamous for reports by the US Air Force of UFO sightings in 1980 – discover more of the mystery by picking up the UFO Trail leaflet at the forest centre.
- Parking – charges apply
- Accessible toilets
- Picnic Area
- Play Area
did you know……..
In the 16th and 17th centuries there were flourishing shipbuilding centres in Woodbridge and Aldeburgh. The Pelican ship was built in Slaughden for Sir Francis Drake. Mid-voyage of circumnavigating the world, Sir Francis Drake renamed ‘The Pelican’ the ‘Golden Hind’.
You can find out more information about Woodbridge and its maritime history on the Woodbridge Riverside Trust website.
Today we have an episode of Suffen About Suffolk – a podcast that dives deep into Suffolk and what makes it special. In this episode Emily Slade talks to Rachel Leathers from Screen Suffolk about her work sourcing locations for the film The Dig.
This video is shared courtesy of Emily Slade and you can find more episodes of Suffen About Suffolk here
Join Joshua Ward at Sutton Hoo on a brief tour of the archaeological finds and the unique landscape on this ancient National Trust site. See the sculpture of the ship that was discovered in the the burial chamber, along with the royal burial mounds. We also learn more about Tranmer House, Edith Pretty’s former home, and enjoy the stunning views across the River Deben to Woodbridge.
You can find out more about National Trust Sutton Hoo here www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo
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 Domesday Book records this village as ‘Meltuna’.
- The church has 5 stained glass windows, including one depicting the Anglo Saxon princess St Ethelreda, whose name is often abbreviated to St Audrey.
- On St Audrey’s feast day, cheap goods were sold which gave rise to the word ‘tawdry’.
- In the 1800s, East Anglia’s legendary phantom devil dog Black Shuck made an appearance here, terrifying the villagers and biting a man’s thumb!
- Along its waterfront is moored the HMS Vale, a former Swedish Navy missile attack vessel, which today is the home of the Deben Cafe.
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 8 – Spot the blue flash of a kingfisher from a riverside path
Let a walk along the riverbank reveal a colourful new world. Find loads of fascinating facts about kingfishers and other riverside birds on the RSPB website.
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 Suzanne Bartlett (a Walking Festival Walk Leader) walks us through the Delights of the Deben
Walking by water is always a pleasure, and the Deben Valley is particularly special to me as it meanders through the villages of Easton and Letheringham. The walk encompasses historic structures and buildings such as the crinkle crankle wall that once surrounded the Easton Hall estate, the supposedly haunted Letheringham water mill, a splendid example of a Suffolk barn at Old Hall, picturesque cottages and several round houses, and the remains of an Augustinian Priory by St. Mary’s Church, where Tessa Newcomb’s triptych of village life is displayed.
The walk goes over the river at Sanctuary Bridge and by Easton Harriers kennels, across gently rolling fields, beside the river, along the road, skirting by Skouldings and Ash Grove woods, behind Easton Farm Park and close by other farms where you may see sheep, horses and at Bentries Belt, even alpacas! Listen out for skylarks and raise your eyes to spot kestrels or buzzards or even a barn owl as they seek their prey. As you pass the cricket ground you may hear the thwack of leather on willow as play ensues and when you return to the village green, the White Horse Inn can provide some welcome refreshment.
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.