Best winter walks in Suffolk & Cambs
Wrap up warm and go in search of your own winter wonderland! Here's where to work off all those mince pies across Suffolk & Cambs.
You know the festive drill – you’ve eaten your bodyweight in turkey, nailed an entire box of Quality Street, drunk approximately 8,000 units of wine, sherry, Champagne and Baileys and have been slumped on the sofa for a couple of weeks straight. In the immortal words of George Michael (RIP), let’s go outside – ideally for a long, bracing walk around one of Suffolk or Camb’s prettiest locales. Here are some of the best winter walks for the Christmas holidays. Grab your wellies and let’s go!
Who doesn’t love a countryside walk that starts and ends at a decent pub? Stride out from the door of the Dyke’s End and you’ll find mostly flat terrain on a circular route that’s 5.5 miles and takes around 2 hours 10 mins (though short cuts are possible). View walk here. History lovers will appreciate this hike as the majority of the walk is along the intriguing ancient Anglo-Saxon defensive structure known as the Devil’s Dyke and the route takes in pretty Swaffham with its two windmills and two churches. The privately owned pub overlooks Reach village green and you can park in the car park here, don your wellies (the fenland part of the walk can be boggy) and then return to your car and the cosy bar area for pints and snacks or the restaurant area for lunch.
There’s a perfect winter circular walk that starts in Wicken and takes you through farmland and a beautiful area of fenland with waterways, reed-beds and great views over flat open stretches of protected wildlife habitat. As you would expect being in the fens, the walk is almost entirely flat, but there are plenty of insta-worthy sights including the pretty windmill. Find the route here.
Most of Cambs is pretty flat so the chance of working up a sweat is slim. Head south though to the border with Herts (read guidance on Covid lockdown rules first please if you don’t live nearby!) and Therfield Heath in Royston is an ideal place to get the heart rate up, with its steep chalk escarpment. There are loads of routes to take. I tend to park in the main car park near the cafe and head up the hill alongside the golf course towards the woods, which is a lovely sheltered place if it’s a cold or rainy winter day. Dogs can be off the lead and children can run free for miles.
This nature reserve near St Ives is full of winter birdlife around this time of year so is a good option for a family stroll (even well-behaved dogs are allowed on leads). There’s a lot of water here – it’s where the Great River Ouse spills into the fens so expect lots of wading birds among the reed beds. There’s a 5 mile or 6 mile route so best for slightly older families although buggies will be fine along the Barleycroft trail unless it’s really wet.
This Grantchester walk is heaving in the summer, but come winter is just as pretty and much less crowded. It starts and ends in Grantchester, which is without a doubt one of the prettiest and most pleasant villages to while away an afternoon or pick up a pub takeaway in Covid times. You can make this walk take in parts of Cambridge, too if you want to extend it. An all round lovely flat walk with plenty of scope to see all the best historical sites in the area.
Part of the wildlife trust for Beds, Cambs and Northants, Brampton Wood is Cambridgeshire’s second largest wood and is over 900 years old. There are over two miles of wide tracks known as the ‘rides’ that are easy for family walks or slightly more difficult minor paths for more serious walkers. Plenty of wildlife to see in winter here too. Find the map here.
Wandlebury Country Park and The Gog Magog Hills
There are 8 miles of way marked walks in Wandlebury Country Park (pick up a route guide in the car park) as well as a lovely short circular walk at The Gog Magog Hills with fabulous views over Cambridge. If you want to extend this walk further though, you can incorporate the Stapleford to Wandlebury Roman Road that’ll take about 3 hours and includes the River Granta valley, The Gog Magog Hills and beautiful Wandlebury. Find the route here.
Grab the new binoculars you got under the Christmas tree and give them an outing at lovely Lackford Lakes – a nature reserve made from former gravel pits along the River Lark. For families or anyone needing to use a buggy or wheelchair the 1.5km Kingfisher Trail is your best bet. There are longer routes though. The visitor centre isn’t open during lockdown, but you can still meander round the reserve spotting all the wildlife.
Snape Maltings to Iken
Snape Maltings has a few lovely strolls that work perfectly as winter walks. We particularly like the route to Iken along the River Alde. If you’re feeling sprightly you can even make it to Aldeburgh and back along the Sailor’s Path, stopping off in the town for a warming drink. For families there’s a much shorter Snape Maltings circuit too. Something for every type of winter walker here.
Framlingham Town Trail
Town walks can be a great idea at the moment as everything is closed so will be nice and quiet and you will have the place all to yourselves to discover every little nook and cranny. A stroll around Framlingham is particularly pleasing as not only can you follow the town trail through the surprisingly steep and quaint streets, but there’s the castle to marvel at and plenty of countryside just on the doorstep if you want to extend the stroll.
Flatford and Dedham
This is one of the most beautiful parts of Suffolk – English countryside at its very best (alternate opinions are welcome in comments below!). All of the surrounding villages from East Bergholt to Dedham (across the Essex border so check current lockdown guidance) are picture-postcard pretty. There’s a lovely circular riverside walk that is 3.75 miles along roads, field paths and riverside meadows. There are 5 stiles (what is this the hurdles?) so not ideal for young families, but otherwise there’s very little climbing to be done. View the walk here.
We love Walberswick and this circular route. Coastal air is perfect for blowing away the winter cobwebs and this is one for keen ramblers or walkers, as the two routes are 7.6 or 8.3 miles. Only a small part of the walk is along the beach, but enough to get a sea air fix.
This 200-acre park, just on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds, is perfect for a full family stroll. There are paved paths (great for buggies and scooters) and it’s completely safe from vehicles, so little ones can run in all directions burning off all that festive sugar. A circular walk round the park, with its impressive arboretum and stunning Lime Avenue, is a nice distance (around 5km) and there’s also a play area for minis who still have energy. There’s a cafe too, although it may be closed on NYD. Dogs are allowed on leads.
Dunwich Heath Circular
Heath and beach combine to make a lovely easy and short (2.5K) walk along this part of the Suffolk Heritage Coast which is teeming with wildlife. The walk starts at the Dunwich National Trust car park, walking parallel with the coastline, then turns inland to double back over the heath. View the route here.