7 lovely autumn dog walks in Suffolk
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From secluded beaches to stretches of country fields and wooded paths – here’s some great spots to take the family dog.
Autumn is the ideal time of year to get out for some brisk exercise – and no walk is complete without the four-legged member of the family. With many dog-friendly spots across Suffolk waiting to be explored, here’s just a handful of them.
While some of these routes may prove muddy at this time of year, we recommend wearing your sturdiest boots (and making sure you have a towel in the car for the pooch).
One of the county’s most beautiful nature reserves, Dunwich Heath on the Suffolk coast is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna. Dogs are more than welcome to explore this vast heathland and can go off-lead between the months of September and February, but owners are reminded to stick to the paths to prevent disturbances to wildlife such as red deer and winter migrant birds. Throughout the winter months, livestock are kept on site, so please put your dog on a lead if you happen to spot one of the reserve’s sheep signs.
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Alternatively, head on down to the beach where dogs are allowed to go off-lead all year round. Be sure to keep an eye out for any small birds in the sand dunes, and ensure your dog does not approach any seals that might be on the beach.
Dunwich Heath’s car park is open between 10am and 4pm every day, and while the tea room is closed, the Coastguard Cottages kiosk will be open on weekends between 10am and 4pm, serving light refreshments to takeaway.
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Clare Castle Country Park
A popular spot for ramblers, explorers and families alike, Clare Castle Country Park welcomes four-legged canine friends with open arms - and with 36 acres worth of parkland for you and your pooch to explore, you’ll all be sure to have a great day out.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely meander around grassland, woodland and a variety of paths, or a spritely sprint up to the top of the mount for those more agile and fitter dogs, there’s something to keep every dog (and owner) entertained.
Other spots worth exploring include the Victorian railway path where the Stour Valley Railway used to run, or the two large ponds and streams within the park. Dogs are permitted to be let off the lead within the park but must be kept under control at all times. On street car parking is available free of charge, all day and every day. Alternatively, the park has its own 88-space car park open Monday to Sunday 9am to 7pm, costing £1 up to one hour.
Almost other-wordly, Covehithe is one of Britain’s most beautiful beaches – and happens to be located right here in Suffolk at the Benacre National Nature Reserve. A haven for birdwatchers and fossil hunters, this remote beach also welcomes dogs all year round.
Secluded and quiet, there’s no lead restrictions for dogs so your four-legged friend can frolic to their heart’s content on the vast sandy stretches before having a quick paddle in the waves.
Only accessible by foot or bike, the nearest available parking is located at St Andrew’s Church. Once parked up, head across the fields and down the path (it should be clearly signposted) to make your way down to the beach.
With 245 acres of land to enjoy, your dog will have an absolute field day at Sutton Hoo. Located just near Woodbridge, this historical site is overseen by the National Trust and welcomes dogs – but they must be kept on a lead at all times.
There are a number of walking routes throughout – ranging from the shorter River View circular green walk, which takes you through an abundance of trees and offers views of the River Deben, to the three-mile Sutton Hoo Ferry Cliff Walk, where you can explore a mix of woodland, fields and river bank.
Sutton Hoo’s Keepers’ Café has also recently reopened, and will be serving a selection of hot and cold drinks, and light snacks available for takeaway between 11am and 3pm.
Hadleigh Railway Walk
Starting at the old station, a leisurely stroll with your dog along Hadleigh’s Railway Walk is the perfect way to spend an autumnal Sunday. The disused railway track has long gone, with the remaining trackbed creating a path that takes you through peaceful meadows and towering woodlands.
Popular with ramblers, cyclists and horse riders, dogs are more than welcome to explore this 7.2km path off-lead. Featuring flat terrain throughout, this is certainly an ideal walk for you and your pooch.
Located in rural north Suffolk is the Thornham Estate – 2,000 acres of parkland, farmland and woodland. With over 12 miles of well-established walking routes to explore, known as Thornham Walks, visitors are more than welcome to bring their dogs as long as they’re kept on a lead.
Some of Thornham’s walking highlights include Memory Wood, which features a number of young trees that have been planted to remember and celebrate lives past and new, and the walled garden.
Thornham is open from 9am to 4pm November to March. The car park costs £2 for the full day on weekdays, and £3 on weekends.
Hardwick Heath, Bury St Edmunds
Just a stone’s throw away from Bury St Edmunds’ town centre is Hardwick Heath – a 55-acre park where you can take your dog off its lead.
Featuring a mix of wide, open fields and wooded, pathed routes, you and your loyal friend will definitely feel the crisp autumnal air this season as you make your way through this vast expanse.
Hardwick Heath’s car park is open daily between October and March from 7am to 6pm, with prices starting at 40p for up to one hour.