Discovering Suffolk’s natural beauty at this year’s Walking Festival

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The festival boasts over 70 guided walks across wild countryside, outstanding landscapes, rolling hills, forests, and coastal beauty spots.

Suffolk Walking Festival

As we make our way out of the cold weather and start to see the signs of spring, many are looking to make the most of being outside – something which has been made difficult for us over the past couple of years.

We want to do our part in supporting this mission, so are very excited to launch the 14th instalment of the much-loved, incredibly well-supported Suffolk Walking Festival.

Due to Covid the festival was cancelled in 2020. In 2021 there was a virtual walking festival. So it is very exciting to see the festival return in full and it’s a perfect time to get involved if you haven’t done so already.

The festival, one of the longest of its kind in the UK, boasts over 70 guided walks across wild countryside, outstanding landscapes, rolling hills, forests, and coastal beauty spots. With lots of weekend, evening and family walks, accessible, short, medium, long-distance walks, and more challenging walks – there really is something for everyone.

In this year’s programme discover a dragon in the iconic Stour Valley, explore Hawkedon’s horizons through idyllic green villages, celebrate 75 years at RSPB, tell stories of smugglers and shipping routes at Dunwich Heath, and spend time watching Sweep the sheepdog in action managing Orford Ness Nature Reserve’s very own herd of rare breed sheep.

You can tune into bats on a twilight safari through ancient woodland at Priestley Wood, brush up your whittling skills and make damper bread over an open fire in the woods at Thornham Walks, and get crafty at Brandon Country Park finding willow, sticks, leaves and rushes in the woods to make and keep your own creations.

The festival grows in popularity each year and remains a great way to keep active and meet others. I would encourage everyone to get out there and explore

The festival kicks off at Clare Country Park on Saturday 14 May with refreshments and 2 Launch Jaunts. It then runs every day until 29 May. Tickets are on sale now - check out the website www.suffolkwalkingfestival.co.uk for more details of the programme, sign up to regular newsletters, and to buy your tickets.

1,000 walking QR plaques distributed as Discover Suffolk mobile app launches

Man pinning QR code to footpath post

To assist those enjoying Suffolk’s stunning countryside, you will notice that over 1,000 QR code plaques have been installed on roadside public rights of way fingerposts across the county.

Over 50 volunteer parishes have been supporting the county council in distributing and installing these QR codes to enhance walkers’ experience of Suffolk’s countryside.

Scanning the QR code will take walkers to the Discover Suffolk website where there is a link to download the new Discover Suffolk app. A second QR code takes users to a page dedicated to the countryside code. After the initial 1,000 have been installed, a further 5,000 plaques will be installed over the following months.

The project will also be supporting the refreshment of county-wide signage with over 2,000 new footpath and bridleway fingerposts being installed to help people visit the countryside. Parish volunteers are supporting these endeavours by identifying where new fingerposts are needed.

The rollout of the QR codes has been partnered with the launch of the free ‘Discover Suffolk’ mobile outdoor app. The app helps people access and enjoy the countryside with over 100 guided walking, cycling, and riding trails to explore. The app, which is available for both Android and Apple phones, gives users access to high quality Ordnance Survey mapping and the functionality to download, follow and track routes throughout the county. Find out more about the Discover Suffolk app.

I am most grateful to those community volunteers for identifying fingerposts which need to be repaired or replaced – it enables our officers to direct their resource and efforts appropriately. Together with the launch of the new Discover Suffolk app, I am confident that as we start to feel the warmer weather arrive even more will be able to enjoy the fantastic public walks we have to offer in Suffolk.

If you would like to support Discover Suffolk as a volunteer on this project, please send an email to discoversuffolk@suffolk.gov.uk.