• Tunstall Forest

Explore The Suffolk Coast's Fantastic Forests

If there is one place you can guarantee a moment of peace, it’s in a forest. Stepping into the cocoon of trees and shrubs, wandering the winding pathways and getting just a little bit lost is the perfect antidote for the chaos of modern life. Read on to uncover some of the beautiful forests and woodland on the Suffolk coast; brimming with nature, mystery and activities for all to enjoy under the leaves and branches. 

Dunwich Forest

Dunwich Forest Horses

North West of the village of Dunwich itself, you can find Dunwich forest- a living landscape of 640 acres of grazed woodland, lowland heath, coniferous and broadleaved woodland. 

This peaceful wilderness is currently being 'rewilded' to the natural landscape present before the conifer plantations. Look on as Dartmoor ponies graze the northern area of the forest and keep your eyes peeled for rare birds, reptiles and butterflies. Follow the orange topped posts from the New delight Walks or the New Car Park for a circular 4 mile walk in the North Forest and maybe you’ll stumble upon the bird hide where you can lay low and look out for and winged visitors. Husky training takes place within the northern part of the forest before 10.30am and after 4pm so look out for a blur of dog fur racing past if you visit during those times.

Dunwich forest is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is open to dog walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. 

For more information visit https://www.forestryengland.uk/dunwich-forest

Rendlesham Forest

Rendlesham Forest

Situated within the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, Rendlesham Forest is a curious place full of mystery and intrigue. With many walking and biking trails, picnicking areas and a pond, at first glance it may seem like a normal woodland. However, Rendlesham is known as Britain’s own ‘Roswell incident’ for good reason. In December 1980 locals were alarmed to see several unexplained lights in the sky descending into RAF Woodbridge. Servicemen initially thought the lights were due to a downed aircraft but when they entered the area to investigate they were startled to see what they described as a glowing object, metallic in appearance, with coloured lights.

The object moved and sent nearby farm animals wild before disappearing never to be seen again. There were no other corroborating witnesses but in the following days servicemen returned to the spot and discovered small triangular impressions on the ground, as well as burn marks, broken tree branches and a higher than average radiation reading. Visitors can now follow the three -mile long UFO trail which takes walkers through forest, heathland and wetland and past areas of interest connected to the sighting, with sculptures and information too. 

If extraterrestrials aren’t your thing, enjoy a mixed terrain walk or run around one lap of the Tangham area of the forest, along the upper section of the forest and past the old airfield. Bring a picnic to enjoy or even a BBQ which you can use safely on one of the designated BBQ concrete platforms. Or, head to nearby Orford and drop into the Pump Street Bakery for coffee and a delicious pastry. 

For more information visit https://www.forestryengland.uk/rendlesham-forest

Tunstall Forest

Tunstall Forest

Tunstall is a tranquil forest, especially suited to dog walkers and hikers. Located North East of Woodbridge and made up of coniferous plantations, broadleaved belts and heathland areas linking up both Tunstall and Blaxhall Common, the broad open tracks and ever-changing scenery will keep every visit fresh and new. The forest is home to ground nesting birds such as the Nightjar and Woodlark, so keep your eyes peeled for these species and listen for their melodic trilling. Dogs can enjoy running freely but do be vigilant of the wildlife and especially the ground nesting birds. 

Embark upon the Viking Trail; a 10 mile, single track mountain bike trail beginning from Sandgalls car park in the north of the forest and taking a 10 mile loop of one of the best single track bike trails in Suffolk!  The origins of the Viking Trail are a legacy of the motorcycle enduro events held in the forest over past decades and the route maintains a natural feel with minimum use of imported material. To try the trail you should be a competent rider, wear a helmet and stay together as a group. 

Tunstall Forest has free parking and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

For more information visit https://www.forestryengland.uk/tunstall-forest

Gunton Woods

Gunton Woods

Located in Lowestoft, Gunton Wood is a beloved local nature reserve with 4000 new trees, winding paths, places to sit and think a while and even a pond. It is a veritable  haven for wildlife and nature lovers and well worth a visit. 

Historically, Gunton wood was part of the ornamental gardens for Gunton Old Hall. It was transformed by volunteers 1997 and since then has been a calming, bird song filled local nature reserve frequented by careful dog walkers, friends and families. 

More recently, Gunton Woodland has become home to the first environmentally friendly Woodland Burial Park to be opened in the Waveney and Great Yarmouth area.

The term woodland burial is used to describe a burial which results in the creation of a new habitat for wildlife and at the same time minimises the environmental impact of the processes used. The area is a peaceful place of hope, love and reflection for the families of those resting there. 

For more information visit https://www.forestryengland.uk/rendlesham-forest

Reydon Woods

Reydon Woods - Gill Moon Photography

Easy to find, with a carpark and not far from the seaside town of Southwold, Reydon forest is known locally as a real gem of a place for peaceful walks and nature in abundance. 

A modest but ancient coppiced woodland Reydon is famed for its bluebells in the spring and sightings of rare birds such as tawny owl, sparrowhawk, long-tailed tit, woodcock and treecreeper, as well as blackcap and nightingale.Pursue the circular trail that takes in about half of the wood and can be walked in 30 minutes, take time to dawdle, look up, down and all around, noticing the smaller details like flowers, mosses and even common spotted orchids. 

Children will enjoy using the cut and fallen branches for den building and in spring and summer keep your eyes peeled for butterflies such as ringlet, gatekeeper, orange tip, speckled wood and painted lady.

For more information visit https://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/reydonwood

Captain's Wood

Captains Wood - Gill Moon Photography

A hidden treasure on the doorstep of Tunstall forest, Captains Wood has evolved over many years to be a rich and varied eco-system showcasing the very best of British nature. Seen on ancient maps as ‘Cutmore Wood’ one can only guess that perhaps the current name derived from some wealthy seafaring man. Over the last 1000 years the wood has passed through the hands of various Bishops, noblemen and families including in 1550 the Bishop of Norwich, in 1620 Sir Michael Stanhope (Groom to the chamber of Elizabeth 1) and in the late 19th century Sir Richard Wallace.

Indeed, as you take the Circular 3km pedestrian trail by foot you’ll be transported back through the years to a time when wild deer roam freely amongst the wildflowers and many visitors report to have seen herds of Roe or Fallow deer, munching peacefully away. This forest is a photographer’s paradise with hunting Barn Owl, flitting dragonflies, bats and birds all willing models if you are patient enough. 

No dogs are allowed, to preserve the peace of the location for its resident wildlife. There are several benches spotted around so do remember to bring a flask and some snacks as a welcome break along your route. 

For more information visit https://www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/captainswood