Walk from Dunwich via Dingle Marshes
One of our favourite walks whatever the time of year, covering a range of different habitats. Best to take account of wind direction to determine which way to do the walk – either setting out north along the beach from Dunwich or returning that way.
A circular walk of about 6 miles, all on the level though the pebble beach at Dunwich slows the walking pace and might be too much for small children. You can spend as long as you like but should allow at least a couple of hours plus any extra for watching the marsh harriers over Dingle Marshes! Park at Dunwich beach car park (take some change for the collection box supporting local charities).
It’s worth checking the wind direction to decide which way round to do this walk; ideally you want the wind at your back when walking the beach section and you’ll be able to tell easily enough when you get to the starting point at Dunwich beach. Our preferred route if the wind is coming from the south is to set off along the shingle beach heading left/north towards Southwold (see below for which way to set off if it’s a northerly wind). Walk along the beach for a good mile or so – keep an eye on the salt water marshes on your left for an amazing range of birdlife - if you walk on the top of the shingle bank you can see the marshes on your left and the sea on your right, though it’s easier, and more sheltered, to walk just inland of the high shingle mound for as long as possible. Take the first signposted footpath heading inland and follow this round until you reach a gate to a path that begins to turn back on itself, so that you feel you’re starting to head towards home. Follow this path for a few hundred yards and you’ll get good views of the sea across flat marshland and a farmhouse on your right. Keep following the path and you’ll come to another gate on the edge of a wooded area – go through here and basically follow this lane all the way back to the Dingle Hill Café and Nursery (about 2 miles further on). On the way, stop to marvel at the lovely modern glass house in the woods, the birdlife over the marshes on your right just as you come out of the woods and endless hedges, wildflowers, animals, interesting houses, and probably many other things.
Towards the end of the walk, Dingle Hill Café and Nursery is definitely worth a visit; if it’s a very busy day you may have to wait a while for your food but the setting is beautiful – lots of chairs and tables, many set out on a grassy area surrounded by trees and nursery plants. The food is good – salads, sandwiches, great cakes and a good range of hot and cold drinks. And it’s always fun to look round the nursery. Alternatively, head back to the beach car park and look in at The Ship, a lovely pub (deservedly busy in summer) with great food and plenty of different eating areas inside and out and usually things to keep children entertained in the large conservatory area. In the main part of the pub there’s flagstone floors and a wood-burning fire for the cooler months.
If the wind is coming from the north, set off inland towards The Ship Inn, walking through the village itself with the pub on your left, keeping going past the church on your left after which turn right up a lane, marked as a footpath/bridleway, close to the Dingle Hill Nursery and Café; then use this route in reverse.