• Start: Priory Road, Snape
  • End: Priory Road, Snape
  • Country: England
  • County: Suffolk
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: The Crown and Golden Key are Snape’s village pubs serving food. There is also the Plough & Sail pub and choice of local fare on offer amidst the tempting shopping and leisure complex at Snape Maltings.
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer No. 212
  • Difficulty: Medium
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David Falk of Discover Suffolk, heads off down the ancient pathway from Snape Warren to Aldeburgh's Hazelwood Marshes

David Falk of Discover Suffolk, heads off down the ancient pathway from Snape Warren to Aldeburghs Hazelwood Marshes

Definitely a sociable walk this. Wide tracks, woodland paths, well-maintained boardwalks and some artistic conversation pieces make the 2 mile stretch plain sailing. Its a great wander to enjoy with friends and family, even those with littler wellies (though they might demand a piggy-back on the return run).

In bygone days when Snape dwarfed Aldeburgh in its importance, this was a main thoroughfare for folk heading coastwards for fishing and boat-building or for agricultural workers-cum-sailors greenhands making for the Slaughden smacks. As recently as 100 years ago, lady laundry workers in Miss Pettits Aldeburgh employ were chatting their way along the path at either end of the day.

On a spring day there are sure to be plenty of shared moments, from the temptation of a kissing gate (the gorse is in bloom!) to pleasantries on the boardwalk with a stranger and his Lab.

Listen out for the brief attention-grabbing pleas of a yellowhammer demanding a little bit of bread and no cheese and wonder at springs most special treat the yellow fluttering leaves of a dotty Brimstone butterfly, as it flits away in front of you, then dances swiftly back like some golden retriever, just to check that you are coming.

The Walk

Pick up the broad path (signposted for Aldeburgh) which leads alongside Snape Warrens outstretched grassy heathland and golden gorse bushes on the right. With a name like Sailors Path Cottages, a pair of redbrick semis will soon give you the confirming nod that youre on the right track. As heath turns to rough pasture, land often grazed by less than local sheep, look out for the line of strange, orange, overturned pots which lead across the fields to both sides...

Over on the right, before heading into mainly birch woodlands, the open heath leads the eye down towards the River Alde, to Snape Maltings and to where Iken church lifts the horizon. Once in the ancient woodland, the openness of landscape becomes forgotten as you tunnel into a sheltered, secret world full of bird song and green shoots. Be prepared for all sorts of encounters especially of the squirrel kind and take care by the crossroads where a terracotta spaceship or two seem to have landed amongst the pines and rough-barked silver birch.

The woods of Black Heath Estate soon yield to open parkland on the left, another universe of mighty trees, this time enjoying their own space segregated by an iron boundary fence.

Of all the different habitats offered up room by room along the Sailors Path, the marshy wilderness of Ham Creek has to be the most enchanting. This wetland world seems to arrive out of nowhere, unexpected after the dry sandy paths and woodland trails. Long stretches of boardwalk and little bridges lead across drainage ditches and streams, allowing you to tiptoe above a watery wonderland, then delivering you safely to the drier land of more broadleaved woods.

As the traffic of Aldeburghs Saxmundham Road begins to rumble and flicker along the near horizon, the path reverts to being flanked to one side by scrub and golden gorse again. Hazelwood Marshes, one of Suffolks last undrained grazing marshlands and must for twitchers, fall away to the right whereas over the road, South Warren has a real appeal for those who prefer a spot of golf.

The finer detail

Top tips: Why not find out more about the temporary art installations which are still a feature along the path and courtesy 2008s local Ebb & Flow project? As well as colour maps of the path to download,, Suffolk County Councils official countryside website, includes links to more information about the sculptures and the local stories which inspired them.

Please note: The original Sailors Path stretches some 5 miles from the centre of Snape village to Aldeburgh beach beyond North Warren and is covered in entirety as part of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Path. Unfortunately it includes some distance along the now busy A1094 road, therefore a shorter, more family-friendly version of the walk is featured here.

How to get there: Take the A1094 off the A12 to pick up the B1069 to Snape. Turn left before the villages Crown pub into Priory Road, past the Golden Key and continue for about mile. Where the road turns sharply left, there is a small car park on the right.

Park up and go: Snape Warren has its own small car park at the end of Priory Road in Snape. If you choose to start the walk from the Aldeburgh end (or team up with friends to leave a car at both ends to shorten the walk), park at the car park for Hazelwood Marshes, on the right opposite the Golf Club as you head towards Aldeburgh on the A1094.

Distance: Approx 5 miles

Refreshments: The Crown and Golden Key are Snapes village pubs serving food. There is also the Plough & Sail pub and choice of local fare on offer amidst the tempting shopping and leisure complex at Snape Maltings.

Terrain: Mainly wide tracks with some narrower boardwalks. Some woodland paths may be muddy in places. Walking boots or stout shoes are the best footwear option.

Useful additional map: OS Explorer No. 212

Convenient conveniences: There are no public conveniences directly on this walk ... what a good excuse to call in the pub for a warm up and a drink!

Public transport: Call 0871 1200 2233 or visit for details

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