Feature Walk: Thorpeness
For many years, Thorpeness was merely a tiny fishing hamlet, just north of Aldeburgh on the Suffolk Coast. However, in 1910 a Scottish barrister and dandy bought the hamlet and the surrounding area, from the north of Aldeburgh to the village of Sizewell, and inland to Leiston. Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie had big plans for Thorpeness, and gradually he began to transform it into a private fantasy holiday village.
Today, Thorpeness is still as Ogilvie envisioned it: the streets are full of pretty mock Tudor and Jacobean houses, and Thorpeness is famous for the quirky features that Ogilvie built, including the Meare, which inspired J.M. Barrie’s writing of Peter Pan, and the fairytale House in the Clouds.
As well as Thorpeness’ unique manmade features, it has an abundance of wildlife to admire and landscapes to explore. The countryside surrounding Thorpeness is a mixture of heathland, marshland, shingle beach and forest, and it is an excellent destination for walking and birdwatching.
This feature walk is 5km long, taking in the marshland to the south of Thorpeness, and the coastal road. Along the way, you can see the House in the Clouds, Thorpeness’ windmill and Ogilvie’s magical Meare. As you walk through the marsh, you may also see some of the white-fronted geese that winter there.
Begin the walk at the Suffolk County Council Car Park in Thorpeness, just south of the Meare. From the car park, turn right and walk past the Meare.
After 50m, turn left and follow the footpath on the unmade private road that leads past the windmill and the House in the Clouds.
When you reach Thorpeness Hotel and Golf Club, continue straight on, keeping the club buildings and Meare on your left until you reach a junction where our path meets the old railway line.
Turn left, and follow the old railway line for about 1.5km, until you reach an obvious path crossing your route.
Turn left and follow this footpath through the grazing marshes, until you reach the coast road.
Cross the road and turn left, walking along the beach back towards Thorpness, keeping the houses on your left.
Remember to wear sensible footwear on the walk, as sections of the trail can be muddy or slippery after heavy rain.
Courtesy of Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB, images by Tony Pick.