Santon Downham 6 mile circular (Thetford Forest)

This is the first hike that I’ve done in Thetford Forest. Ever! 

I can’t quite believe I haven’t been there before. It is absolutely a great time to go as well, with the changing colour of the leaves.

We weren’t blessed with sunny weather, however, it did manage to stay pretty dry for the entire walk.

Leisurely 2 Hour Walk

It was a reasonably late set off, at 2 pm, but as this walk was a leisurely 2 hours there was plenty of time to get back before darkness starting kicking in. (However, now that the clocks have gone back you may want to consider setting out a little earlier if you’re going to do this walk in autumn or winter.)


By car: Parking for this route is at the Forest District Offices Car Park OS grid reference TL 938 919.

By bus: Getting the bus there is slightly more tricky, as the buses generally go between Thetford and Brandon, and don’t make very many detours to Santon Downham. However, it is less than an hour’s walk from Brandon (2.5 miles). There are regular buses all day from Thetford to Brandon, so you won’t get stuck. Check out this timetable for more information: https://www.coachservicesltd.com/timetables-maps/. The number 200 bus route is the one that occasionally goes to Santon Downham.

St Helen’s Church in Santon Downham

Beginning The Walk

Turn right out of the Forest District car park back up the same small road you came down in the car and follow it for a short while passing by St Mary’s Church on the left. This brought us to a t-junction on the corner of the road.

Turning left leads slightly uphill and along a tree lined road with little traffic.

A few hundred metres on we turned left down a forest track, which was marked by orange path markers and a large 17 written on a road sign.

The track descended slightly, turning a little bit boggy in places after all the rain we’ve had lately.

Descending on the leafy forest track
It was a little boggy in places towards the bottom, but very picturesque

Picturesque Woodland Path

It was very pretty with all the autumn leaves and the pine trees framing our view as we walked. We hardly saw another soul too, even though it was the weekend, just the odd dog walker.

On the left we passed some fields of horses. There is an orange route marker turning left just after the horses, however, do not take this turning, this is the route that we will come back on. Instead, continue straight on alongside a felled part of the forest.

Little Lodge Farm

Follow on for just over half a mile and turn right on the smaller forked path, just before reaching Little Lodge Farm up ahead. The footpath opens out and takes you across a field alongside the farm meadows to the left. Continue walking until you reach the clearly visible tree line ahead, where you will turn left.

After following the track for a short way you will see a narrow but well-marked footpath leading into the trees to the right. This will bring you out onto another forest track. You will find information about the local bat population on an info-board.

Footbridge crossing the Little Ouse River

Turn right onto the broad track, and continue on for a couple of hundred metres until you see a wide marked footpath to the left. This is the path that leads to the bridge that crosses over the river.

We actually ended up taking a slightly different route, trusting the marked route on the ordnance survey route. However, it seems that they have made a slight adjustment to the actual route making it more direct to cross the river. We ended up having to walk on a rather muddy path to get back to the main route.


Soon you will reach the picturesque footbridge crossing the river. It did have a pole reinforcing it in the middle which we had to step over, making it look as if it needed a bit of maintenance. However, we found it to be very solid after taking some tentative steps to make sure.

Once on the other side, turn right. Follow the riverside path towards the power station, which is clearly visible in front of you.

There were two very large brown Newfoundland dogs swimming up the river which was quite a sight!

At the end of the riverside path you will pass the scouts camping ground (lucky scouts). Find a signpost that leads in all different directions.

Two Mile Bottom!

Follow the yellow sign towards Two Mile Bottom Car Park, ignoring the small path to the left and crossing underneath the railway line.

Continue to follow straight on along the path towards the main road turning left onto it when you get there. There was a path along the verge taking you slightly off the tarmac. Follow it, staying on the left for around 50 metres until you get to the next left track. This is a rather busy road, and although we only had to walk on it for a short while, I was glad when we were off it again.

Back In The Woods

Once back in the woods again there is a very clear track to follow which takes you on an interesting history of the area via the information boards dotted along it.

There is St Helen’s Well (Spring) down a path to the left if you’re interested in checking it out. Also, a mound where an ancient church once stood that was estimated to have been built before 1066.

The path follows the direction of the railway line until you reach another underpass to the left which leads you back under the railway line to Santon House and the very cute little All Saints Church of Santon.

All Saints Church of Santon

Here there is a choice of routes. You can either take the Little Ouse riverside path to the left as we did, or you can follow the wider path straight on. Both routes will lead you to the bridge that crosses over the river.

Second footbridge at Santon
The Little Ouse River

Cross back over the river, and follow the path straight ahead. This will lead you out onto the same path that you started out on. Turn right and follow your footsteps back the way you came which will take you back to the Forest Office car park where the route ends.

I found the trees in this area really stunning, especially in all their autumn glory. To be honest, I can’t wait to go back and do some more exploring in Thetford Forest.

Leave me a comment below if you get out to do this walk, and let me know what you thought.

Happy walking!

Hike – Southwold, Suffolk 4 mile circular

  • Distance: 4 miles
  • Difficulty: easy coastal walk leading back through well kept countryside paths, can be muddy on part of it if you go after rain.

The Need To Connect With Nature

I just had to get out, even though the forecast was predicting rain and strong winds on my day off! Sometimes you just have to commit and go anyway, don’t you?

The week just doesn’t feel the same when I’m unable to get out into nature and hear the birds and smell the undergrowth for a few hours.

Admittedly, this walk was supposed to be around 8 miles long originally and is easy to lengthen if you want to do that. You just need to cross over the river and do a loop around Walberswick before coming back. However, a look at the sky told me that it would be wise to cut it a bit short, that and the fact that we didn’t put enough money in the machine at the car park to last for the full length of the hike! Oops.

Transport To Southwold

To get to Southwold using public transport from Norwich there is a direct bus, which will take about an hour and a half from St Stephens Street in Norwich using Border Bus. Here is the link for you to the current timetable at the time of posting: https://www.border-bus.co.uk/media/docs/146_Timetable.pdf

Arriving by car you need to head towards the Southwold Pier pay and display car park where there was plenty of space at this time of year on a Friday.

I managed to get some video footage for you to be able to see the terrain a bit, but it was lightly raining for most of the walk which made me a bit conscious of not having my camera out for too long as I didn’t want to get it wet.

Starting The Walk, and Lunch Options

We didn’t get to Southwold until around 12 o’clock, so we thought it would be a great idea to have some lunch before setting on. We settled on fish and chips (well, chips and mushy peas for me actually 😉 ) – there are several fish and chip shops and eateries to choose from in the area, and a little way into the walk there are two or three more places in the harbour that you will pass through. Lots of opportunities for you to warm your cockles if you go in chillier weather.

Map Of The Route

Here’s an image of the route that I took which didn’t join up because I forgot to turn it on right at the beginning in the car park (eye roll), so I switched it on in the centre where the green dot is after we’d finished our chips.

As you can see, it goes southwest, first along the coast a little way before taking a route that goes parallel to the sea a little inland along a footpath. Follow the arrow to the right when you are on the coastal footpath. You will follow the road a little way down the hill and at the bottom is an obvious footpath which is tucked behind the sea defence mound next to the fields. At the end of the path cross over the road and go right following the River Blythe through Walberswick harbour.


The harbour is beautiful and there are a couple of places to get fish and chips and fresh fish as well as a cafe if you’d like to stop there.

Continue on past all the boats and you will find a footpath which continues to follow the river.

Just after the footbridge which crosses over the river, the path veers to the right and takes you across the fields where there may be cows grazing (they seemed quite friendly!). Keep on the raised path in front (it was quite muddy when we were there after some heavy rain the last few days, but not impassable).


When you reach the end of the cow field there will be a gate to pass through and you will take the path to the right which takes you up through some gorse bushes close to the golf course and presents you with lovely views to the right if you peep over the bushes.

Don’t be confused by a signpost leading to the right. Just continue straight on the path. At the end you will come out at a gate on the left leading to a wider lane which is Blyth Road. If you look left you should be able to see a railway line and maybe catch a glimpse of a train. There is also a miniature steam train station to the left if you are interested to check it out.

Continue to follow this small road which will bring you out onto the main road. Cross over this and continue straight down the road opposite which will lead you back directly to the Pier. Alternatively, take the road to the right which will lead you back to the centre.

Southwold Pier is well worth going onto for a good look at the sea before or afterwards. There are amusements and a couple of places to get a drink and food there too if you wish to partake.

Southwold Pier  The pier built in 1900, was devastated by a severe gale in 1934 when the force of the storm destroyed the head of the pier. The pier was further damaged during the second world war, and for many years was a shadow of its former glory. Following a major refurbishment by its present owner, the pier has seen enormous visitor numbers and has served to reverse the former declining interest in coastal piers. It represents one of the many highlights of the town.


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