As romantic locations go, it might not spring instantly to mind. But the tiny Suffolk village of Westleton was where the nation’s favourite couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, spent their
first wedding anniversary in April 2012.
William and Kate checked into the Westleton Crown, a 17th-century coaching inn set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty close to the Suffolk Heritage Coast. And this atmospheric walk, taking acid grassland, gorsey heath and deer-haunted woodland, couldn’t be more heart-swelling.
Beginning at the Crown, turn right and along Blythburgh Road, passing the village green. At the edge of the village, just before the bus shelter, turn right for a footpath over the heath.
Follow the path a few steps into the trees, then turn immediately right at the fork and continue on the path that skirts the edge of the trees. At the wide forestry track, turn right and then immediately left. Where the path forks again, take the right-hand path.
At the end of this section of path, ignore the sign for a footpath over private land (directly ahead) and turn right. This path will bring you to Westleton Heath nature reserve. The reserve is part of the Suffolk Sandlings, an area of rare lowland heath rich in wildlife, and which once stretched as
far as Ipswich. At the reserve sign, take the path to the left. Where it forks again (by another reserve sign), keep left.
At the fork in the path, a yellow sign warns of an archery course. Turn left and continue to Sandy Lane Farm, turning right over a cattle grid opposite the farm’s black gates (alternatively, continue straight on to reach the historic seaside village of Dunwich).
Follow the path over Westleton Road and past Mount Pleasant Farm (part of the RSPB’s nearby Minsmere reserve). At the crossroads of paths, turn right along the bridleway. After passing through two gates, you will meet a small road: cross over and continue along the track beyond.
On the horizon to the left, the dome of Sizewell power station is now visible. Easier on the eye nature is here, too: red deer and rabbits are a common sight.
Where the path meets a tarmac lane, continue on until the lane bends to the left, then take the track
off to the right through the trees. After walking for approximately 10 minutes, take the footpath on the left, through the kissing gate.
View from the top
Follow the footpath, pausing at the top of steep steps to enjoy expansive views back over the wintry treetops. Then pass through another kissing gate and follow the path until it meets the road.
Continue on to the road, turning right at the fork, to end up eventually on the village main street. The Crown and a welcome pint is to your left but, before cosying up by its crackling log fires, first visit the 14th-century church of St Peter, opposite. Notable for its thatched roof, the church also lacks a tower: the first collapsed in 1770, and the fate of the second was sealed by a Second World War bomb.
HOW TO GET THERE
Westleton is approximately 25 miles north-east of Ipswich. Take the A12 from Ipswich, turning off at the Westleton Road. Buses are extremely scarce; if arriving by train, take a taxi from Darsham station (three miles). The nearest mainline station is Ipswich.
FIND OUT MORE
The Westleton Crown
The Ship at Dunwich
The Crown’s sister inn.
Snape’s galleries and shops are perfect for romantic gifts or simply browsing.