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This is a 5.5 mile walk from Tunstall to Snape Maltings in Suffolk.

It's a lovely, gentle walk (and yes we have tried it) through East Anglia fenland that ends up in Snape Maltings a great place for Afternoon Tea and perhaps a spot of shopping for home ware, antiques, art and local produce. Well worth a visit.

The focus of this easy walk is the world famous complex at Snape Maltings, centred round the concert hall, said to be among the best in Europe. The route starts and finishes by the river Alde but much of it is on clear paths in Tunstall Forest and over Blaxball Heath. The latter is a remnant of the lowland heath, known as sandlings, which once covered much of this pan of Suffolk. It is glorious in the late summer when the heather is in bloom.

The Granary Tea Shop is to be found in one of the Maltings buildings and it also has tables outside. It serves a wide selection of interesting cakes as well as light meals such as quiche, pasties and filled rolls. The walls of the attractive interior are decorated with paintings for sale. It is open throughout the year from 10am until 5pm, 5.30pm at weekends. Telephone: 01728 688303.

DISTANCE: 5.5 miles



Iken Cliff picnic site and car park (GR 399563)


From A12 near Woodbridge take the A1152 and follow it until it ends at a roundabout near RAF Bentwaters. Continue in the same direction on the B1069, through Tunstall and following the signs for Snape. After about 1 ¼ miles turn right on a minor road signed Iken 2 ½ Sudbourne 3. Some 400 yards after a crossroads turn left on a track to Iken Cliff picnic site and car park. Approaching from the north, take the A1094 towards Aldeburgh from the A12 north of Stratford St Andrews. After 1 ½ miles turn right on the B1069 and follow this through the village of Snape and past Snape Maltings. Soon after passing the Maltings, bear left on a minor road signed 'Iken 2 Orford 5 ¼'. After a mile turn left, signed 'Iken 2', for 400 yards then turn left on a track to Iken Cliff picnic site and car park.


If you want to visit the teashop at the beginning or end of your walls, start at Snape Maltings where there is ample parking. You will then begin the walk at point 13.

The Walk

1. From the bottom right-hand corner of the picnic site take a path on the right. At a complex junction of paths by two houses bear slightly right on a gently rising path and follow this to a lane.

Away to the left, rising above the muddy tidal flats of the river, the remote and ancient church, St Botolph's, can be seen. There was a monastic cell there as early as AD 647 and the chancel contains a Saxon cross carved with dragons. Sadly, the nave was almost destroyed by fire in 1968.

2. Turn right. After 100 yards turn left on a footpath over a stile. The path is not visible on the ground at the time of writing. It goes along the right-hand side of the field and then bears left to a stile.

Over the stile turn left on a surfaced track and after 70 yards turn right. Turn right again immediately to pass to the right of a barn so that initially you are walking back almost in the same direction but on the opposite side of a large pond. At the top right-hand corner of the field turn left to walk along the top edge of the field with a wood on the right. When the wood ends at a cross-path, turn right to continue walking with the wood on the right.

3. After about 300 yards turn right on a signed path and left after 40 yards. After another 40 yards turn right on a less obvious path to walk along the right-hand side of a field, with a strip of wood on the right, to a lane.

4. Cross the lane and go right for a few yards to a track on the left into Tunstall Forest. Continue walking along this track as far a a house on the left, ignoring all side tracks.

5. Just after the house, turn right on a track. After 150 yards, as the track bears right, bear left on a grassy path. Continue ahead at a broad cross-track the bear left at a fork 100 yards after this.

Did you Know.. 

Tunstall forest together with Rendlesham and Dunwich Forests make up the 14 square miles of Aldewood Forest. The area was planted with conifers by the Forestry Commission in the 1920s. Prior to this, the area had been heathland with little agricultural potential. During the First World War there had been a shortage of timber. Almost all of their planting was conifers because these are very quick growing in the warm, wet British climate and the areas chosen were poor quality farmland, such as this. Some of the trees are now being harvested which gives this section of the walls a somewhat blasted appearance, at the time of writing. However, the recuperative powers of nature are such that it will soon recover.

1. Cross a lane and continue in the same direction.

2. After about 300 yards the path splits into three. Follow the middle branch, protected by vertical wooden posts, to a road.

3. Cross the road and continue in the same direction. Ignore faint paths on the right and carry on to a substantial cross-path.

4. Turn right, going between posts and through a shallow bank. Continue ahead at a cross-path the pass a large pit on the right.

5. Turn left at a T-junction with a cross-path in front of a fence and follow this to a lane.

6. Turn right along the lane. At a junction with a main road turn left to Snape Maltings and the teashop.

Did you know.. 

In the summer of 1941 a young English composer called Benjamin Britten from Suffolk, living in the United States, came across the work of the poet George Crabbe. As a parish priest in the late 18th century, Crabbe led an unremarkable life in Aldeburgh but in his verses he told the grim truth about rural conditions at the time, unlike his Romantic contemporaries. Talking about almshouses:

You have placed your poor, you pitiable few

There, in one house, throughout their lives to be

The pauper palace which they have to see:

It is a prison with milder name

Which few inhabit without dread or shame.

This discovery was a defining point in Britten's life and he realised that he would find his best inspiration back in Suffolk. He returned home and began work on the opera 'Peter Grimes', inspired by the work of Crabbe. Its first performance in 1945, with Britten's friend and companion Peter Pears in the title role, marked the reopening of Sadlers Wells Theatre after the war and the start of his brilliant career as a composer of opera.

In 1947 Britten, Pears and the librettist Eric Crozier decided to start a small music festival at Aldeburgh to give British opera a better stage in its home country. Early events were held in halls and churches in Aldeburgh and the surrounding area. As the festival's popularity and fame grew it became apparent that a large and permanent concert hall was needed.

Snape Maltings is a 19th century industrial complex built by Newson Garrett, one of a family who were leading industrialists and intellectuals of their day.

One daughter was Elizabeth Garret Anderson, who was both the first woman doctor and the first woman mayor, taking office as mayor of Aldeburgh in 1908. Another was Dame Milliceni Garret Fawcett, a suffragette and one of the founders of Newnham College, Cambridge. The brick buildings were originally used to prepare local barley for brewing and the malt produced was shipped out down the Alde. It was opened as a concert hall in 1967 but suffered a major setback when it was gutted by fire on the first night of the festival in 1969. Brilliantly restored in a year, it is widely regarded as among the finest in Europe, thanks to its magnificent acoustics.

The Snape Maltings

As well as the concert hall, the complex contains teaching rooms, shops, restaurants and bars surrounded by lawns with statues by Barbara Hepworth.

1. After tea turn right to walk by the river. The path soon comes to a notice saying that it is impassable at high tide. This is true and is optimistic at low tide unless you are unusually partial to mud. Some 70 yards after the notice turn right. Follow the path past the end of the overflow car park.

2. Turn left at a T-junction and follow the clear path across field and marsh back to the start, ignoring paths on the left.

The walk is courtesy of TeaShop Walks, a book by Jean Patefield

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