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The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail

There are currently 3 comments and 2 photos online for this walk.

The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail
Author: Adnams, Published: 08 Apr 2014 Walk Rating:star1 The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail Walking Guide star1 The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail Walking Guide star1 The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail Walking Guide star1 The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail Walking Guide star1 The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail Walking Guide
Suffolk, Eastbridge
Walk Type: Coastal
The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail Walking Guide
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A 5 mile circular pub trail from the Eel’s Foot in Eastbridge, Suffolk. The Eel’s Foot is a traditional, cosy inn set in the heart of Suffolk’s Heritage Coast and the ideal place for refreshments before or after your walk. The walking route performs a simple loop out to the coast and back, taking in stretches though Minsmere Nature Reserve, the Suffolk Coastal Path and Dunwich Heath along the way. There are beautiful views to enjoy, lots of birdlife within the reserves and a chance for a paddle in the sea.

The walk has just a few gentle gradients and follows woodland, heath and beach paths which can get a bit muddy after rain and in winter. There are no stiles on route, just a few kissing gates to negotiate. Dogs are welcome along the entire route, but they must be on short leads in Dunwich Heath in order to protect the ground nesting bird populations. Approximate time 2 to 2.5 hours.

The walk starts and finishes from the Eel’s Foot pub in the hamlet of Eastbridge, near Leiston in Suffolk. Travel north on the B1122 from Leiston and, after passing the ruins of Leiston Abbey, you’ll see the signs for the pub to the right. Follow the narrow lane (with passing places) for about a mile and it will lead you directly to the pub, which has its own car park. Approximate post code IP16 4SN.

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Walk Sections

Start to Dovehill Plantation
Start to Dovehill Plantation

Start point: 52.239 lat, 1.5907 long
End point: 52.2383 lat, 1.5999 long

Leave the pub car park and turn left along the village lane passing in front of the pub, taking care of any occasional traffic. Immediately after the last cottage on the left, turn left onto the signed footpath to Minsmere Sluice, a wide stone track. A few yards before the track bends left, turn right down a narrower stone path (signed FP for footpath) with fenced fields each side. The path winds between fences and then emerges to follow the left-hand edge of a crop field.

At the end of the first field, follow the path as it narrows between gorse bushes (at the end of a belt of woodland) and then continue ahead on the grass path between open fields. The views have now opened up ahead so take time as you walk to appreciate the views across the surrounding area. At the end of the field, pass through the wooden gate ahead. Follow the footpath as it swings left and then right to become a track with Dovehill Plantation to the right and Lower Abbey Marshes to the left.

Dovehill Plantation to Minsmere Sluice
Dovehill Plantation to Minsmere Sluice

Start point: 52.2383 lat, 1.5999 long
End point: 52.2376 lat, 1.627 long

Keep ahead on this track, keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife in the marshes to the left. Otters make the marshes their home, a welcome return after they became extinct within Suffolk during the 1970s. Likewise, marsh harriers (a bird species reduced to just one pair in the UK by 1971), are another local conservation success story, frequently seen hunting within the marshes.

A little further along pass through the kissing gate and keep ahead on the track. You are now entering Minsmere Nature Reserve which is managed by the RSPB and is known as one of the UK’s premier bird watching sites. Follow the wide grass track between reed beds and, as the views open up to the right, you’ll be able to see the dome of Sizewell power station above the tree line.

At the end of this long straight grass track, you’ll see a gate ahead with the remains of a chapel in the field beyond. The chapel remains mark the spot of the original Leiston Abbey founded in 1182. The increased risk of flooding led to the Abbey being abandoned in favour of the site further inland (now just beyond the B1122). The chapel was probably built when the abbey was relocated and stands in the site of the original monastic church.

Swing left in front of the gate, passing between a pair of posts, and then bear right to follow the path with the dyke running directly on the right. Continue through the open grass area, staying close to the lines of gorse and reeds to the right. The grass track soon draws level with another path to the left, simply keep ahead and you will emerge to the large red brick Minsmere Sluice.

Minsmere Sluice to East Hide
Minsmere Sluice to East Hide

Start point: 52.2376 lat, 1.627 long
End point: 52.243 lat, 1.6278 long

Pass through the gate onto the sluice and bear right to reach a three-way sign post. Turn left here, heading north along the coastal dunes with the fence line for the marshes running to the left. Follow this path (the Suffolk Coast Path) with the gorse and beach dunes to the right. Within the dunes you’ll see concrete cubes, tank trap defences laid in World War II.

A little distance along you’ll see a set of steps (within wooden fencing) on the left, these lead you over to a viewing point for the Scrape. The Scrape is an artificial salt water lagoon, created in 1962 to attract wading birds. Take a moment to enjoy the birds here should you wish. The greatest success story is that of the avocets (the black and white bird which is the logo for the RSPB). Having become extinct in Great Britain in 1840, avocets have bred here every year since the Scrape was created. Common terns and gulls also breed on the Scrape’s islands. Soon after the viewing platform you’ll come to the access steps for the East Hide, another place from which to enjoy the Scrapes’ birds.

East Hide to Dunwich Heath
East Hide to Dunwich Heath

Start point: 52.243 lat, 1.6278 long
End point: 52.2525 lat, 1.6267 long

Continue along the sandy track and soon the coastal dune bank to the right levels out a little. This is a great place to veer across to the right and get a view of the sea (or even take time for a paddle!).

Follow the path along the dunes ridge and, where the sand dunes end, you’ll see a wide pebble beach ahead. Keep ahead for just a short distance further and, before you reach an area of scrub, fork left onto a fenced path (marked with a National Trust arrow). Follow this fenced path (heading for the white coastguard cottages up on the cliffs ahead) along the back of the beach to reach a T-junction. Turn right down the steps (signed Coastal Path) and swing left and then left again to join the shingle path marked as a bridleway.

Follow this path steadily uphill, up a series of shallow steps. (Note: dogs will need to be on a short lead from this point to protect the ground nesting birds). At the top of the path you’ll emerge out alongside a vehicle barrier to reach a tarmac road. Keep ahead in the same direction to reach a four-way signpost to the left of the white coastguard cottages, the Dunwich Heath National Trust visitor centre. (Note: there are public toilets down to the left here should you wish to use them.)

Dunwich Heath to Woodland Gate
Dunwich Heath to Woodland Gate

Start point: 52.2525 lat, 1.6267 long
End point: 52.2555 lat, 1.6165 long

Keep straight ahead on the tarmac lane, passing through the gateway, signed ‘To the heath’. Pass the end of the terraced white cottages and immediately afterwards, turn left down the signed footpath, with the Heath Barn field study centre to the left.

After the barn you’ll come to a collection of picnic benches. Ignore the Suffolk Coast Path which forks right here, instead keep straight ahead on the main stone track, passing between small wooden posts. Now follow this wide stone path for some distance as it winds through the centre of Dunwich Heath, ignoring any smaller paths off to the left and right.

Lowland heath remains a rare habitat in the UK, and areas such as this are important to specialist species including ground nesting birds such as the Dartford warbler. Dartford warblers, named after Dartford Heath in Kent, were reduced to just 10 pairs in the UK in 1963 and conserved areas of heath provide an invaluable habitat for nesting. The song of the Dartford warbler is a distinctive rattling warble.

Continue until you reach the edge of a section of woodland where the main track swings right. Fork left here, down the shallow steps (signed for Sandlings Walk) and at the junction keep ahead through the kissing gate.

Woodland Gate to Hangmans New Wood
Woodland Gate to Hangmans New Wood

Start point: 52.2555 lat, 1.6165 long
End point: 52.2473 lat, 1.5957 long

Here you leave Dunwich Heath (good news for dogs!), cross a stream and join a path through woodland. Soon you will be walking through a dense section of silver birch trees with their striking silver trunks. Birch trees are often cultivated for their appearance or timber, but the sap is also of use. The sap can be tapped from trees (don’t try this as an amateur though!) and with a 1% sugar content it can be brewed into wine.

You will eventually emerge to a T-junction. Turn left onto the bridleway, still signed as the Sandlings Walk. As you emerge from the woodland you’ll reach a crossroads with a tarmac lane. Keep straight ahead to take the grass path directly opposite. Across the open fields to the left you’ll have lovely views across to the sea. The path soon leads you into a section of woodland, Hangmans New Wood.

Hangmans New Wood to End
Hangmans New Wood to End

Start point: 52.2473 lat, 1.5957 long
End point: 52.2392 lat, 1.5906 long

Follow the path left and then ahead through a pretty section of woodland. Continue straight on as the path merges with a quiet tarmac access lane (taking care of occasional traffic). The lane is lined with pretty coppiced beech trees, giving it a strange enchanted feel.

At the end of the avenue of trees, follow the tarmac lane as it swings left passing Four Winds House on the right. Follow the lane over Dam Bridge, crossing the waterway Minsmere New Cut, and a little further along you’ll come to the Eel’s Foot on the left for some well-earned hospitality.

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network The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author adnams and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 comments for "The Eel's Foot Minsmere and Dunwich Trail"

Great walk. Only comment is to say that the gate on page 3 has now gone so it might be helpful to amend to say bear left at the gate where you see the ruined church and follow the path.

By Elkington on 18 Feb 2017

Great walk, nice inn. We will do it again soon.

By Terry on 09 Jan 2016

A great walk with varied terrain followed by a cracking pint of Adnams at the excellent Eels Foot Inn. A definite five star walk.

By neiltimms196 on 21 Jun 2014

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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iFootpath provides a mechanism to capture and share details of walks, but it is worth explaining the essential structure of a walk as they are stored in the iFootpath database. The basic concept is that a walk consists of any number of sections that are joined end to end. For each section we might want to describe views or other points of interest about that part of the walk.

The database that underpins iFootpath provides the mechanisms to store the structure and details of each walk, descriptions, photographs and mapping data for the overall walk and each section of it. It is not mandatory to enter information into every single field in the forms we provide, although some basic details are essential to ensure the walk database stays manageable and searcheable.

Each walk entered can be shared with all other iFootpath users, but before a walk (and its sections) are shared there are three stages it must go through. The first stage is as a "Draft". When a walk is in draft it is only visible and editable by you, the author of that walk. Whilst it is in draft form you can add sections, photographs, further description and refine it as you see fit. You can do as little or as much as you like. However, it is worth remembering that if someone (you) wants to print it off and take it as a walking guide, then it is worth taking the time to detail each section reasonably concisely. Long descriptions are generally distracting when walking and a short, concise version is usually much easier to use.

When you are happy with the walk description and its sections you can set the status to "Ready". This does not yet make it visible to everyone. It does, however, lock the editing (although you can change it back to draft and continue editing) and alerts the systems administrators that it requires reviewing prior to being "Published". When set to "Ready" the walk will be reviewed to check it contains the basic data needed and to ensure the content is clean. We do not allow content to include obscenities, swearing or other offensive language or pictures. This review does not check the walk for accuracy; whilst we would love to test each and every walk through walking we simply do not have the time. If we do find something wrong with the walk we will contact you and ask that it is fixed prior to marking it as "Published".

Once the walk is published it is now visible to any user of iFootpath and is therefore in the public domain given that anyone can register and access iFootpath. You are therefore responsible that any photographs used in your walk description are not infringing copyright. See our terms and conditions for further information on what we do and do not allow.

Published walks are available to all users of iFootpath and are listed in the walk browser to read or print and will be listed in the iPhone/iPod Touch application for download.

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A walk in iFootpath is an introduction to the overall walk, identification of where it is and starts, some overview notes and general commentary.

Title (required)

A walk title should provide a brief indication of where or what the walk is. Walk titles do not have to be unique.

Description (required)

This provides a text area where you can describe the walk. Explain what you love about the walk, what makes it different and what people will see. In addition try to answer all the questions you might ask before going on a route. What sort of paths does the walk use? Any steep accents/descents? Are there any stiles? Are people likely to come across horse/cows/sheep?

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The grade of a walk is an indicator of how difficult it is to walk. This does not take into account the walk length but does suggest how challenging the walk will be. An easy walk, graded as 1 (and shown as 1 walking boot) indicates a walk that is essentially flat, has no sharp hills to climb, has no stiles or other obstacles, is easy to navigate (probably along a well worn path) and is suitable for most levels of fitness. Do be aware that the level of stamina required will vary and you should only walk within your limits - the indication of walk length will help with this. A difficult walk, graded as 5 (and represented by 5 boots) indicates a walk that is strenuous and involves steep ascents and/or descents. It may be technically challenging involving difficult terrain or obstacles.

Please note that the grading for walks is subjective and open to interpretation and should only be used as a guide when selecting a walk.

Map Ref / Start Point (optional)

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AB 123 456

Further details of this system can be seen on the Ordnance Survey website.

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This pair of fields allows you to enter the longitude and latitude for the start point. iFootpath automatically completes this field based on the uploaded GPX file.

Key Image (required)

This is the main photograph used to illustrate the walk and can, if you wish, be the only photograph used of the walk. We recommend that you use a picture that characterises the walk, if possible, to show potential walkers what they might find or see. The picture must be in any of the main image formats (JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG) and image files up to 2Mb in size are permitted. Once an image is uploaded it will be resized automatically and a smaller version saved that is optimised for viewing on both this website and iFootpath Mobile.

There are many image editing and manipulation applications available, so many that we cannot make particular recommendations although almost all are excellent. Our preferred way of saving images for iFootpath is to save or export them at a maximum size of 1024x1024 pixels as a JPEG file. This creates a file that is well under 2Mb in size, contains plenty of detail and displays well in almost any browser. Please be sure that you own the copyright to any images uploaded - you must have taken them yourself or have explicit permission. If you are concerned about image theft then we also suggest you include a small watermark in any corner of the image, but please remember that large watermarks that hide the image will not be popular with viewers!

Pdf file

Pdf file for walk

Icon (recommended)

The icon is a small image, 60 pixels square, used to provide a label for the walk when displayed in lists or in iFootpath Mobile. It is recommended that a small, square image for such use is created and uploaded. This should be in JPEG, GIF, BMP or PNG format and less than 100Kb in size. If you do not provide an icon the walk will be automatically given a generic system icon. If you do upload a photograph for the walk icon its size will be checked by the system and it will automatically be resized to 60 pixels square. However, please also note that if the image is not square in format it may be cropped and you will not get the result you might have expected. Just thought you should know!

Getting There (required)

This provides a text area to explain how to get to the start of the walk. It is good to include a post code.

Preview

This function allows you to see how your published walk would look, before you submit as 'Ready' for review.

Status

When a walk is created and saved in iFootpath its status is automatically set to 'Draft'. This implies that you are still working on it and may want to come back later to add walk sections, images or other information. When you are ready for the walk to be shared with other iFootpath registered users then the status should be changed to 'Ready'. This will automatically notify the system that you want to share the walk. The system will check to ensure you have completed the required information and alert a reviewer. The reviewer will read through to check the content is clean and consistent with our terms of use. This does not check the accuracy of the walk details or any other information. If there are issues with the contents you will be contacted by email. The walk status will also be reset to 'Draft' in this case. More likely, however, that everything is fine in which case its status will be set to 'Published' at which point it becomes available for viewing and downloading by any registered user of iFootpath. This includes download to iFootpath Mobile.

Filters

Filters allow you to narrow down your search for walks of interest. By County restricts the list of walks to those in the selected County. The Filters links at the top of the list page allow you to jump quickly to the filters or to clear them.

Keyword Search

The Keyword search facility will search through the walk descriptions and notes to find words or phrases you specify.

My GPX Files

This page gives you the list of GPX files that you have uploaded from iFootpath mobile (or from other sources). You are able to view, edit, delete or download these files. Once you are happy with your GPX file you can 'convert to walk' to create a draft walk based on this data. This walk will appear under 'Manage My Walks'.

Manage My Walks

The list of walks presented are those you have written and entered into iFootpath. From here you can filter the list if you have lots to narrow down your search, list all or just those with a particular status. If you select a 'Published' or 'Ready' walk you will see a read-only version of your walk, although if 'Ready' you can reset status to 'Draft' again for further editing.

Walk Sections in iFootpath

Each walk section represents a particular piece of a walking route. The start and end of each section are defined by waypoints. Each section joins onto the next to form the complete walk. There is no limit to the number of sections a walk can have, but on a long walk we recommend breaking the route down into manageable pieces that are delineated by particular landmarks, turnings or changes in obvious route. Each section has its own photograph and descriptive text which should hold a photograph that illustrates the section and any instructions or other notes you want to add that may be of use in helping navigation or pointing things out.

Section Title (required)

The section title is used to provide a short name for the section. It is useful in section titles to provide an indication of the start and end, so using names of landmarks, roads, etc is a useful aid. Sections will be named automatically as the name of the waypoint at the end of that section. It is recommended that you rename the sections as something more useful to walkers.

Section Description (required)

This field is used to provide as much information as you wish about the walk section. This should include notes on navigation, even if obvious, and any further information you care to share about views, historical notes, things to look for, etc.

Key Image (recommended)

A picture can save many words and will often be very useful in helping to navigate or spot things along the route. The picture must be in any of the main image formats (JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG) and image files up to 2Mb in size are permitted. Once an image is uploaded it will be resized automatically and a smaller version saved that is optimised for viewing on both this website and iFootpath Mobile.

Our preferred way of saving images for iFootpath is to save or export them at a maximum size of 1024x1024 pixels as a JPEG file. Please be sure that you own the copyright to any images uploaded - you must have taken them yourself or have explicit permission.

Map Ref (optional)

This allows the OS Map reference for the start and end of the section to be entered. These should be in the format:

AB 123 456

Further details of this system can be seen on the Ordnance Survey website.

Start/End Point (optional)

This provides the facility to capture the co-ordinates for the start and end points of the walk section. iFootpath will automatically complete this field based on the GPX file used to create the walk.

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