Tag Archives: Dunwich

Hansel and Gretel with Snowdrops in Suffolk

We were in the woods near Westleton and we hadn’t seen another soul since lunch.  Tim was whistling the theme from the classic 1960s film The Great Escape as we marched along and I was really beginning to feel like we had.

Saturday 18th February 2016

My first trip to Dunwich, several years ago now, was at this time of year.  The sight of Snowdrops carpeting the floor of small wood close to Dunwich village has stayed with me.  The first sign of Spring.

So it was that we decided, once again, to take ourselves across the county border from Norfolk into this very impressive part of Suffolk.

I have, at long last, figured out how to produce and add a map showing the route to my posts.  This one has helpful mile markers.  The start/end is the square shaped object.  I’m so smug.

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We parked in Dunwich Forest, very close to a small area called St Helena.  I mentioned this area in a previous post.  Helena/Heleen/Leny is a popular name used on my mothers side in memory of my Dutch Oma ‘Lena’.  It’s my sisters name and that of at least five cousins!  Oh yes, we have a big family on my mothers side!

Even though I’ve worked out how to produce a route map of my own I couldn’t help but take a quick snap of the ‘information board’ someone had kindly put up – right next to the car.  Somehow we still turn into Hansel and Gretel.

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Our Hansel & Gretel moments – let me explain.  We have walked in, through and around this forest more times than I care to remember but we always (always) have a moment (or two) of doubt about our exact position once we set off.  Tim with Ordnance Survey map in hand, trying to decide which path we are on.  Me, thinking there must be a trail of breadcrumbs surely, whilst fumbling about for my reading glasses to help with the map work.  Are we alone with that I wonder?

Anyway, after sorting ourselves out, we confidently headed north through the Forest on a pleasant variety of paths until we reached St Helena where we turn right.  St Helena, it seems to me, to be a single road with a few old but grand large houses.

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This  eventually ends at a t-junction with another track.  We are now on a popular stretch for mountain bikers and walkers travelling between  Walberswick with Dunwich.  Open views of marsh then sea on one side and trees on the other – no wonder it’s a well used route.  Even on a dull day we passed several other couples.

Dingle Hill Tearoom – a must for anyone out this way.  Just before you reach Dunwich (between mile markers 2 and 3 on my map).   I’m  sure it started life as a tiny garden centre and has grown and become more and more popular over the years.  There’s seating inside and out and they do lunches as well as cake and drinks.  We avoided all the tasty treats as there was something else we were looking forward to further along the route.

One tea (enough tea for two) and one hot chocolate £4.60.  The tea pots had rather snazzy cozies.

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Red for tea, Blue has water to top it up

Fully refreshed we walked down the road through Dunwich itself, past the museum and pub and onto the Sandlings Way footpath.  This path hugs the cliff here.  With numerous signs like ‘keep away from the cliff edge’, ‘danger’, ‘danger of death’, it’s obvious how precarious it is.  We stuck to the path and within minutes reached the ruins of Greyfriars Priory.

One day we migcht go over and take a proper look – one day when we’re not walking 10 miles…that’s if it hasn’t been taken by the sea.

My previous post about Dunwich explains all.

Beyond this, and the wall that surrounds it, is Greyfriars Wood.  This is what I really wanted to see today.

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Going into Greyfriars Wood

We stopped here while I ran about taking lots of photos.  Some macro (crawling on hands and knees), some from a normal standing up position!

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Tim patiently waiting for me

Eventually we drifted away from the wood and headed for Dunwich Heath.  I couldn’t find any information about this bridge that we passed on the way but it was very sweet.

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Dunwich Heath is best visited in late summer, early autumn.  The purple and mauve heather is quite beautiful.  Not quite so pretty today.

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Heading to Coastguard Cottages across Dunwich Heath

Sausage rolls – that’s all we could think about and the National Trust shop at the Coastguards cottages sold them.  However, there is a limit to how much they are worth and these particular ones were being sold (cold) at £3.25 which we thought was really cheeky so we gave them a miss.  Instead we had quiche with salad garnish £2.50.  We sat outside, though inside is very nice, and enjoyed our first lunch.

Our own sandwiches and soup picnic was also delicious – thanks Tim (again).  We navigated seamlessly from first to second lunch. Note we used the National Trust picnic table and chairs for free!

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I did overhear a young boy of about seven say ‘that was the nicest sausage roll I’ve ever had’ but kept that to myself.

So, all we had to do now was walk the five miles back to the car.

Back across the Heath we went for about two miles, heading north.  Then left into woods again.  It’s lovely when you get a mix of both – walk this area in the summer months and you’re surrounded by butterflies.  The brightest thing on our route this time was the yellow flowering gorse.

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Now as enjoyable as this walk is once you get to about 8 miles you stop taking photographs and start thinking about your tired feet.  At 9 miles we got a little bit lost again in the forest and I was sure the witch would get us.  Then finally at 10 miles we were home and dry. Hurrah there’s the car!

I love it when you fall into the car at the end of a walk.  Even better when you stop at the supermarket for essential evening meal supplies on the way home you can’t help but stagger across the car park with wobbly legs.

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Dunwich – a place lost to the sea

Every now and then we venture into our neighbouring county -Suffolk.  Southwold, Walberswick, Aldeburgh, Thorpeness – we love to go back to them time and again.  There’s just something about these coastal places – with their relaxed holiday feel and plenty of history.

Last weekend we went to Dunwich, also in Suffolk, a very small village that we take in as part of a walk (but sometimes a cycle route). We stop there, have lunch or tea or ice cream (or all of those things!) then head back to wherever we started from.  It’s a turning point.

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From a small car park at a junction called ‘five fingers’, a quiet in the middle of nowhere place, we set off  – immediately onto a footpath heading out towards the sea, through the marsh at Walberswick.  Unbelievable muddy in places, we tried avoiding it by skirting the edge of the path but in the end it got the better of us.

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Eventually the path has more height giving you a view of the reed and shingle bank just in from the sea.  We spotted Bearded Tit – a beautiful little bird, very secretive that actually has a moustache not a beard!  Google it.

We turned right at Dingle Hill which is just a small rise just above sea level! Eventually on to a stony track, the sun started to break through and we were starting to pass a few other walkers.

At Dunwich we found the popular Beach Tea Room and Fish & Chip Shop next to the large car park closed (til end March).  We sat and ate our packed lunch and watched disappointed occupants of cars coming and going.  We couldn’t help but feel a bit smug.

A little bit of history….

The fact is that Dunwich used to be one of the largest towns in England.  Boasting nine churches, two monasteries and a population of several thousand back in medieval days.  Then, after a series of storms between 1286 and 1347, almost the entire place disappeared into the sea, including the harbour which is what made it prosper.  That’s the trouble with sandy shorelines.

Back to our walk – we headed inland and through Dunwich Forest.  All heathland, coniferous trees and sandy tracks.  It’s quite beautiful.

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Almost back to the parked car there is a notice board that I had to photograph.  For all those members of my family named after my Oma – look at the Trail name – this one is for you.

It’s a lovely part of the world.

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