14 wild spots and reserves to visit in the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB

PUBLISHED: 11:14 28 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:45 28 August 2019

Orford Ness Black Beacon (c) Ben Freeman, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Orford Ness Black Beacon (c) Ben Freeman, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Ben Freeman 2014

Wild and beautiful, the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is 155 square miles of tranquil, unspoilt landscape. Here are 14 exciting places to explore – estuaries rich in wildlife, ancient heaths, windswept shingle beaches and a stunning landscape

1) NT Dunwich Heath

A rare and precious habitat, the heath is home to special species such as the Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark, ant-lion and adders.

Dunwich In Bloom

2) SWT Benacre Broad National Nature Reserve

On the route of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Path, 393 hectares of reedbeds, lagoons, woodlands and heathlands with over 100 breeding bird species including marsh harrier, bearded reedling, water rail, ducks, and bitterns, woodlark, wheatear and hobby.

Benacre Broad aerial

3) RSPB Minsmere

Some of the UK's rarest wildlife. Walks and coastal lagoons where you can watch birds including avocets, bearded tits and bitterns. You might also see otters around the reedbed pools.


4) RSPB North Warren

Between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, home to thousands of ducks, swans and geese in winter, breeding bitterns, marsh harriers, woodlarks and nightingales in spring/summer.

View over North Warren Nature Reserve to Aldeburgh

5) RSPB Dingle Marshes

A 229-acre mix of coastal and freshwater habitats, heathland and forest. Park at Dunwich beach. The reserve's freshwater reedbeds are the biggest in Britain and support a significant proportion of the UK's bittern and marsh harrier populations. Dingle marshes and Dunwich Forest circular walk is 4.5 miles.

Dingle Marshes

6) NT Orford Ness

Get the boat from Orford Quay to the Ness and follow waymarked trails criss-crossing this internationally important coastal nature reserve, with a fascinating 20th-century military history.


7) Covehithe

A wonderfully wild stretch of coast, littered with bleached, sculptural trunks of trees that once stood atop the cliff. At the hamlet of Covehithe are the dramatic ruins of medieval St Andrews Church.

Covehithe, Suffolk

8) Shingle Street

A remote coastal hamlet between Orford and Bawdsey, surrounded by mystery and tales of wartime invasions.

Shingle Skies.

9) SWT Iken | Alde River mudflats

At low water, almost three miles of inter-tidal mud fringed by a rich band of salt marsh.

Iken Suffolk 1st July 2018

10) SWT Newbourne Springs Nature Reserve

A small wooded valley with a spring-fed stream, marsh, fen and adjacent heathland. Good for flowering plants and birds including nuthatch, treecreeper, goldcrest and all three kinds of woodpecker.

Emma's birthday wander

11) SWT Levington Lagoons

A brackish lagoon by the River Orwell formed by a breach in the sea wall during the 1953 East Coast Floods. One of the best places for estuarine birds on the Orwell.

Levington Lagoon

12) SWT Trimley Marshes

The lagoon and its islands provide a variety of habitats and nesting sites for an enormous number of birds including avocet, ringed plover and tufted duck, common sandpiper, curlew sandpiper and greenshank, avocet, wigeon, teal, Brent geese, redshank, and marsh harrier.

Tree Graveyard

13) RSPB Boyton and Hollesley Marshes

Two vibrant coastal reserves in the lower reaches of the Alde-Ore Estuary. Great for birds of prey, owls, butterflies and dragonflies.

27 Boyton RSPB Reserve 110514

14) RSPB Havergate Island

Small island in the River Ore famous for avocets, terns and spoonbills, large numbers of ducks and wading birds. Also a great place to see brown hares.

View from Havergate Island

See it all

The Suffolk Coast Path

50 miles, Felixstowe to Lowestoft linking up with the Stour and Orwell Walk.

The Sandlings Walk

60 miles from the eastern fringes of Ipswich to Southwold.


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