Mount Pleasant farm and Greyfriars monastery walk
Dunwich Heath, Suffolk IP17 3DJRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Dunwich Heath offers you peace and quiet and a true sense of being at one with nature. It’s a rare and precious habitat, home to special species such as Dartford warbler, nightjar, woodlark and ant-lion. Along the walk you'll pass Dunwich museum, Mount Pleasant farm and Greyfriars monastery.
- Bus stop
Start: Dunwich Heath information hut, grid ref: TM476685
From the information hut, walk across the road towards the blue finger post. At the road, turn right, walk roughly 130 feet (40 metres), then take the track on left past Heath Barn.
As you walk past the nightjar sculpture on your right, take the sandy path on your right across the heath, indicated by a wooden post with a purple band.
This significant area of coastal heathland holds the largest East Anglian population of Dartford warblers, with 40 to 45 pairs, as well as breeding nightjars, woodlarks and stonechats. Heather and gorse flower is in abundance throughout the summer, usually peaking in late July to early August. They provide an excellent habitat for a variety of birds and insects.
After about 10 minutes walking, the path bears left. Take the path on the right, signposted 'Public footpath/Suffolk Coast Path'. The path is noticeably narrow here as you now leave National Trust land and walk through privately owned heathland.
The path comes to a four-way crossing, continue straight along the footpath. Note the National Trust Mount Pleasant farm sign.
At the end of the path you reach a road. Cross straight over and continue along the footpath, which is quite wide and stony. At the bottom of the track follow the path to the right, signed Suffolk Coast Path.
When you reach the road, continue straight up the road following the Suffolk Coast Path/Beach car park sign, and keeping St James' church on your right. You're now walking through Dunwich village.
As you walk along the roadside path you'll see the museum on your right. It's well worth a visit to discover the story of the lost city of Dunwich. A detailed model inside shows you what Dunwich was like at the height of its powers in the 13th Century, and the many exhibits cover Roman, Saxon, Medieval, Elizabethan, Jacobean Georgian and Victorian periods. The museum is open from April 1 to September 31, daily, 11.30am to 4.30pm.
Just past the Ship Inn, take the Suffolk Coast Path (near to the beach road sign) and follow it around the perimeter of the Greyfriars ruins.
These ruins are the remains of a Franciscan monastery, built in 1290. The original monastery, built in 1227, was nearer the sea, but like so much of Dunwich, has been lost to the sea. The remains include the precinct wall, two gatehouses and the south range of the cloister, possibly the refectory.
When the path reaches the corner of the road (Greyfriars house sign on your left), continue up the road for about 330 feet (100 metres), then take the footpath on your left and continue until you reach the road.
At the road, cross directly over and take the path to your left (near to a bench). Walk along this path, which borders Mount Pleasant farm, until you reach the half-open metal gates.
The fields to your right are part of Mount Pleasant farm, a 32-hectare (79-acre) area bought by the National Trust in 2002. Formerly used for arable and pigs, Mount Pleasant farm is now being restored to grass and heather. We've also created a permissive bridleway around the perimeter.
Go out of the metal gates, turn right and walk along the road for about 165 feet (50 metres), until you see the footpath and Dunwich Heath sign on your right. Continue along this footpath.
After about 655 feet (200 metres), the narrow path opens into a small grassy area. Bear left and you'll come to the property entrance road and sign. Cross straight over and continue along the path, with the cliffs and sea on your left. This will take you back to the coastguard cottages and information hut.
The coastguard cottages are where you start and finish your walk. If you time it right you might be in time for something to eat and drink in the tea shop.
End: Dunwich Heath information hut, grid ref: TM476685
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 5 miles (8km)
- Time: 2 hours
- OS Map: Landranger 156
Fairly easy terrain, following footpaths and short stretches of road. One small section of wooden steps and some muddy tracks during wet weather. Dogs welcome, but must be kept under close control during the bird breeding season.
- How to get here:
By foot: Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Path and Sandlings Walk
By bike: On Suffolk Coastal cycle route, see Sustrans website
By bus: Coastlink from Darsham or Saxmundham; booking essential, ring 01728 833526
By train: Darsham, 6 miles (9.6km)
By car: 1 mile (1.6km) south of Dunwich, signposted from A12. From Westleton to Dunwich road, 1 mile (1.6km) before Dunwich village, turn right into Minsmere road, then 1 mile (1.6km) to Dunwich Heath. National Trust (NT) car park by information hut; NT members free
- Parking : Pay and display car park (free to NT members)
- Food and drink : Clifftop tea-room, picnic area
- Shopping : Coastal-themed gift shop (see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunwichheath for opening times)
- WC's : Toilets in building close to the coastguard cottages.
- Children's play area
- Contact us