Minsmere is deservedly popular as a visitor destination. However, it is possible to still get a taste of the reserve experienced by visitors in the early years of the reserve with this walk, which skirts the edge of the RSPB reserve and its famous neighbour, the National Trust’s Dunwich Heath.
There are two good starting points, Eastbridge village or the coastguard cottages at Dunwich – there’s ample parking at the National Trust site (charges apply). Both offer the chance of refreshments too, either at the start, finish or half-way point – so you’re spoilt for choice!
The walk provides fantastic opportunities to enjoy the area’s famous wildlife and it’s well worth taking a pair of binoculars. The route starts at Dunwich Heath and goes anticlockwise, but it’s equally easy to do it the other way. Before leaving, it’s worth pausing to admire the wonderful view across Minsmere’s reedbeds and wetlands. Watch out for marsh harriers and, if you’re really lucky, you might even glimpse a bittern!
Drop down to the base of the slope and turn right, following the obvious path and keeping Docwra’s Ditch to your left. The path eventually leaves the Ditch and turns left through birch woodland before meeting a wide bridleway. Turn left and follow the bridleway, cross the Minsmere entrance road and continue towards Eastbridge. The bridleway eventually meets the other Minsmere entrance road shortly before reaching the village and crosses the Minsmere river.
From Eastbridge, continue briefly south along the road, past the pub, then take the footpath on your left. This track takes you all the way to the coast, through open marshland and grassy pastures. Once the Minsmere sluice is reached, turn left and return to Dunwich Heath along the beach. Look out for terns, wading birds and wildfowl throughout this stretch. There are also lots of butterflies and dragonflies in the summer and a wide variety of wild flowers to see.
In winter, the marshes between Minsmere and Sizewell sometimes plays host to geese and migratory Bewick’s swans. Please remember that the weather can change quickly on the coast, so be prepared – there’s little shelter along much of this walk. The paths are generally easy and well-drained, but the section between Eastbridge and the coast can be muddy after rain.
With thanks to Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB for this walk. There are more walks to explore on their website.