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Walking tours in Suffolk

Getting out and about to explore a new area is one of the greatest joys of travelling. Even better is to find hidden corners that are off the well-trodden tourist trail. One of the best ways of doing this is to join a walking tour with a local guide; someone who knows the area well and who has to hand, the pertinent facts and intriguing stories about the landscapes and the people who have lived there.

Joining a guided walk is also a great way to meet like-minded people, to embark on an exploration of a new place together.

With over 3,500 miles of public footpaths and two designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Suffolk is ideal walking country and guided walking tours take place here throughout the year. Some take walkers through the county's enchanting countryside or along the lovely Suffolk coast; others around elegant market towns, stunning medieval villages and picturesque hamlets

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Each year, the Suffolk Walking Festival [link to interview with Lesley Dolphin (when it's published in mid April?)] takes place over three weeks from mid-May, with dozens of guided walks across the county. The length of walks vary from sedate one-milers to long distance walks of 20 miles or more, with the most challenging in the festival's history being an endurance hike of 63 miles, undertaken in 30 hours!

Unlock the stories and scandals of the market town of Bury St Edmunds by joining a history walk from May to September. Explore the town's history, learn about its architecture and find out about the people who made a name for themselves in times past. Look out for the ghost tours from October to March, the winter strolls in December and January and the summer evening walks in July and August. [Link: http://www.burystedmundstourguides.org/tours.html]

Head to the Home of British Horse racing [link: http://www.discovernewmarket.co.uk/pages/templates/item_page.php?s=1970-01-01-walking-tour&category=tour] for a guided walk to explore the history of Newmarket. From the time of King James I to the present day, visitors will learn about how the town has developed into an internationally important centre for horse racing.

Regular guided walks are also offered by the National Trust around Long Melford, Lavenham and Constable Country. RSPB Minsmere host birdwatching walks at their coastal bird reserve and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust organise wildlife walks around their reserves across the county. Hikes around the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are offered by the conservation project team. Keep an eye on our events list for details. [Link to events list]

Slightly less ambitious, but every bit as enjoyable, are the weekly guided walks [link: http://heartofsuffolk.co.uk/visitor-information/guided-walks/] around the medieval village of Lavenham, which take place on Saturdays and Sundays from Easter to the end of October. In nearby Sudbury, the birthplace of Thomas Gainsborough, 'Sudbury Saunters' [Link: http://heartofsuffolk.co.uk/visitor-information/guided-walks/] take place on the third Saturday of the month throughout the year and a visit to Gainsborough's House afterwards, is highly recommended.

Guided walks also take place around the county town of Ipswich with a programme of themed walks organised by the Ipswich Tourist Information Centre and the town's Blue Badge Guides. Afternoon tea walks with different themes are a highlight as well as a seasonal 'Turkey Buster Walk' just after Christmas. [Link to events page]

For something a bit different, there is the option of joining a moonlit walk organised by the owners of Ivy Grange Farm [Link: https://www.facebook.com/ivygrangefarm/] near Halesworth, to the north of the county. As well as offering yurt holidays during the main tourism season, Kim and Nick organise evening walks on nights throughout the year, when there is a full moon and clear sky.

Self-Guided Tours

For walkers who prefer to venture out on their own, there are many designated walking routes to follow with the help of maps and leaflets. Visit Discover Suffolk, : [Link: http://www.discoversuffolk.org.uk/walking/] The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project [Link: http://www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org/publications/walking-guides/] and
Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB [Link:: http://www.suffolkcoastandheaths.org/things-to-do/walking/] for walking map and leaflet downloads or purchase.

Walking Holidays in Suffolk

Cycle Breaks [Link: http://www.visitsuffolk.com/see-and-do/thedms.aspx?dms=3&venue=0273779&groupid=2&feature=1] is a Suffolk-based company specialising in cycling and walking holidays. They deal with the logistics (booking the overnight accommodation and transferring luggage from one hotel to the next), leaving walkers to stroll unencumbered as they follow a self-guided route. Walks are based around the Suffolk Coast, Constable Country, Lavenham and the Wool Towns.

Win with Visit Suffolk