Woodland walks in Suffolk: 9 to try this autumn
PUBLISHED: 17:07 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 11:39 08 September 2017
As the greens of summer make way for the oranges and browns of autumn, have a go at one of these 9 woodland walks in Suffolk
Set in the glorious countryside around the Rotunda – the National Trust’s enormous Georgian palace – this walk deliberately avoids the usual tracks trodden by tourists.
Beginning at the Porter’s Lodge visitor centre, the route loops through Twist and Horsepool Wood while also providing greater opportunities to see some of the deer that roam the area. The 5-mile track appropriately ends at the Italianate gardens and Rotunda, the latter offering the ideal place for a post-stroll refreshment and bite to eat.
It may only be a 10-minute drive out of Thetford, but this small section of the Suffolk countryside still feels brilliantly remote. There are a choice of trails available, each offering a serene walk through woodland and heath near the Little Ouse River.
You’ll see the walk’s parking just before you come into Knettishall village and from there you may be lucky enough to see a kingfisher swooping or bump into a muntjac on his morning stroll. The 2.5-mile Woodland Trail is perhaps the most difficult – it gets narrow as the trees close in – but it’s worth it for a visit to the Bronze Age burial mound, Hut Hill, for a slice of ancient history.
Considered to be one of the finest examples of ancient woodland in East Anglia, this wood is home to an unusually diverse and rare collection of trees and plant life. With over 130 flowering plants recorded, there’s plenty to admire on this 9-mile trek that also takes in Needham Lake and Barking Church.
Flora worth looking out for include the hornbeam, several species of orchid and one of the rarest of all native trees, the wild pear. If you’re light-footed, you may even spot one of the dormice that were reintroduced here in 2000.
Numerous walks criss-cross this area of Thetford Forest first started by Edward Bliss, each providing ground-level views of the giant redwoods, blue atlas cedars, monkey puzzles and other exotic trees. The main car park may be busy but once you get into the depths of the park, the whole area becomes quiet and a great place to clear your mind.
Trails range from one mile for those short on time while more adventurous walkers can try the 6-mile Firecrest Trail to really appreciate its solitude. Leave enough time to get back to civilization, however, as the resident ghost Baron Boretto will be waiting for you in the haunted mausoleum.
This 1,500 acre area of woodland near the Suffolk coast is synonymous with the 1980 UFO sighting and even to this today, conspiracy theorists still debate the alleged landing’s legitimacy.
You can experience the incident yourself as highly-detailed information boards line the pathways and a UFO sculpture based on witnesses’ descriptions ends this mysterious 3-mile walk. If the kids aren’t enthralled by the tales from outer space, there are plenty of play areas to keep them occupied.
Warrening – farming rabbits for their meat and fur – may be unheard of nowadays but from the Middle Ages until the mid-20th century, this area of Suffolk – known as the Brecks – was renowned for this skilled practice. Over two miles, you can learn about this industry and the role it played in shaping Suffolk’s environment.
Turn an eye to the skies and you may see a woodlark, nightjar or a coal tit near the tops of the many Scots pines dominating the area. For a little more history, seek out the site where scientists found some of the earliest evidence of human activity in Britain – hint: it’s just before the Warrener’s Lodge.
Another fine example of Suffolk’s ancient woodland just south-east of Bury St Edmunds, this traditionally maintained woodland is an absolute delight whatever season you visit.
As winter coppicing begins, bright yellow oxlips will give way to several species of autumnal fungi including the red fly agaric and ink caps. Walks vary from one mile to 2.5 miles and during wet periods, wellies for you and towels for your mucky pooch will certainly be needed.
Beginning and ending at The Butt and Oyster riverside pub in Pin Mill, this two-mile woodland walk has the rare privilege of benefiting from views of the deciduous and conifer trees making up Pin Mill Woods as well as sights of the River Orwell.
In addition to supporting the steep embankments of the river, the wooded areas provide homes to a number of species of bird including the woodpecker and blue tit. Look out for the Orwell Park observatory as you follow the route of the river and for linnets – a protected species of bird – that nest in the sandy heathland near the woods.
Step into this little known ancient woodland near Sudbourne and you’ll be sharing a tranquil, 90-acre space with freely roaming deer, barn owls hunting the clearings and seven species of bat.
Fallen and gnarled trees give birth to autumn fungi, making the whole area feel wild and beautifully unkempt. Living trees mix together interestingly across the wood’s 1.5 miles of pathway as oak, birch, hazel and scots pine stand together for your enjoyment.