One of the best presents I’ve had over recent years has been a membership to the National Trust. It’s enabled us to go to some of the regular places we visit as a family but also to discover a few new places too. One such discovery was Dunwich Heath and Beach, which is a short journey over the Norfolk/Suffolk border.
Dunwich is not far from Halesworth and is just down the coast from the popular destination of Southwold. It also happens to be right next to RSPB Minsmere, and from the beach you can also see Sizewell.
Having explored the NT properties in Norfolk we decided on journeying a bit further a field to provide you more information about what to do in the East of England. Dunwich fitted the bill because nowadays the kids enjoy going on a nice long walk and have always enjoyed nature, which is kind of handy because we do too.
The prominent feature at Dunwich is gorse. Lots of it. Seriously. There’s a lot of gorse. Oh and heather too. But did I mention the gorse, which by the way looks fantastic when flowering.
There are several walk options to choose from, or of course you can just go for a nice wander along the beach.
With kids of any age you pretty much have to head to the beach first, so we did, so they could burn off a bit of energy prior to the walk, which meant we had a chance of keeping up with them! After that we opted to take the gorse walking route, which at 2.4km is a fairly easy walk and at a leisurely pace took took us about an hour.
Before we leave the beach, this photo below shows one of the useful information signs that can be found around Dunwich Heath. I think you can work out what it’s about from the picture of a tank!
Plenty of wildlife to be seen and heard around Dunwich Heath. Lots of gulls swooping around near the beach and there is a hide over-looking the sea to spot other sea birds. Further in land you can hear the calls of more feathered fellows. They are somewhat trickier to capture on camera! I did manage to get a pheasant on camera, which you can see on our video further down the page.
I was quite pleased to capture this little pond-skater (below) as I didn’t think I could zoom and hold the camera steady enough! I was going to paraphrase Avril Lavigne’s Sk8er boi song to describe it, but, yeah, I decided against it. Probably shouldn’t have mentioned that!
Always enjoy capturing a butterfly on camera. We also saw a common lizard but he scuttled away before I could get a picture.
Back to the starting point to nip in the gift shop and then enjoy a nice scone (with jam and cream, of course!) and a drink.
For the most vivid colourful landscape the best time to visit is between July and September, so going in April we didn’t quite get the full spectacle, however, as you can see from these photos, the gorse was in flower and quite fragrant.
– There is a charge to park, but other than that it’s free to visit.
– Our walk took us about an hour or so, with maybe another hour for visiting the beach, the shop/cafe, and the bird hide. There are longer walks available so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and check the National Trust website to get the best out of your visit.
– There are several ponds and ditches in the heath, so it’s always a good idea to not let your kids out of your sight.
– From an access point of view, the routes are accessible but there are some slopes, undulating terrain and uneven paths with some soft sand.
We cobbled together a quick video of our walk , which is on our YouTube channel.