Top Nature Parks And National Trusts To Visit In Suffolk

Children playing in the woods.

Suffolk is a wonderfully varied county, along with its coastlines (and excellent crabbing opportunities!), there's a wealth of countryside to enjoy when you're out with the kids.

From nature reserves to forests, river estuaries and even the odd hill, there are so many new places to explore with the kids. Pack some binoculars to spot birds and other wildlife, and take along a pocket guide to British wildlife to help you identify what you see.

If you head over the border into Norfolk, we have selected some more countryside to discover with the kids, and if you are nearer to Essex we have chosen our favourite country parks for you to visit.

Nicholas Everitt Park, Oulton Broad

Situated in Oulton Broad, Nicholas Everitt Park combines a park visit with a trip to see the boats. Watch the sailing and don't miss the powerboat racing in the summer. Plenty of activities for toddlers to teens and a brass band and lovely gardens to enjoy too. When we are back to normal, combine your trip with a visit to the local museum.

Where is it? Oulton Broad Lowestoft. NR33 9JR

Nearest station: Oulton Broad South, 450m away.

Is it buggy friendly? Yes

Where are the toilets? Near play area, also disabled toilet.

Parking: Paid parking.

Outdoor amenities: Boat hire, cafes, play areas, arcades, Lowestoft Museum

Dunwich Forest/Heath

Get back to nature in Dunwich Forest. Make a den, or wander in the woodland if you need some welcome shade on a sunny day.  Follow the orange markers for a four-mile circular walk or discover the marshland and wetlands that adjoin the forest. Also nearby is Dunwich Heath, a haven for birdlife, and the beach. Managed by the National Trust.

Where is it? Dunwich Forest, Dunwich, Suffolk, IP173DZ

Is it buggy friendly? No

Where are the toilets? There are toilets and a cafe at nearby Dunwich Heath and Beach (check parking, as you may need to book it at the beach during lockdown).

Parking: Free at Newdelight Walks or the New Car Parks.

Size: 470 acres

Carlton Marshes

Discover the broads in one place with a visit to Carlton Marshes. The kids will be kept busy trying to find the 28 species of dragonfly that live here, along with marshland birds and birds of prey. You might spot a water vole, but you'll always definitely be able to see a great display of summer wildflowers.

Where is it? Burnt Hill Lane, Carlton Colville, Lowestoft

Is it buggy friendly? Wheelchairs and pushchairs can use a firm path around part of the marsh including easy access gates.

Where are the toilets? Toilets, including disabled cubicles, are at the education centre.

Parking: The car park is free, and there's cycle parking too.

Outdoor amenities: Education centre, picnic area

Size: 233 hectares.

Reydon Woods

Famous for its bluebells, Reydon Woods is a must-visit in late spring but has plenty to offer during the rest of the year. This medieval wood is a haven for butterflies, and while the circular walk will take about 30 minutes, you can spend far longer building dens!

Where is it? Wood Lane off B1126 near Wangford, Southwold

Is it buggy friendly? Not really, especially if wet as paths can be muddy.

Where are the toilets? None on site

Parking: Free

Size: 16 acres

Kyson Hill and Kyson Point walk

If you're after a shortish jaunt, head to Woodbridge and Kyson Hill, where you can see the boats in the River Deben Estuary, watch birds on the mudflats and enjoy the views across the estuary at the top of the hill. Start your walk, which is 2.3 miles and will take about 1hr 15 mins, from Woodbridge station.

Where is it? Broomheath, Woodbridge IP12 4DN

Nearest station: Woodbridge

Is it buggy friendly? No

Where are the toilets? At the station.

Parking: Paid, at the station.

Size: 4 acres (1.6ha)

Lackford Lakes

Discover all kinds of birds from starlings to kingfishers at Lackford Lakes, as you follow the walking trails around the lakes, reedbed, meadow and woodland. Plenty of trails suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

Where is it? Lackford, Bury St Edmunds IP28 6HX

Is it buggy friendly? Yes.

Where are the toilets? In the visitor centre, including disabled and baby changing facilities.

Parking: Yes. bike parking also available.

Outdoor amenities: Visitor centre, bird hides, shop, cafe/refreshments, picnic area, outdoor play area.

Size: 161 acres

Brandon Country Park

Head into Thetford Forest to discover Brandon Country Park and its miles of nature and walking trails, cycle routes and lake. Enjoy the lawns and arboretum too.

Where is it? Bury Road, Brandon IP27 0SU

Is it buggy friendly? Yes

Where are the toilets? At the tea rooms.

Parking: Paid parking.

Outdoor amenities: 'Haunted' mausoleum (complete with bats!), historic walled garden, tea rooms, play area.

Size: 30 acres

Rendlesham Forest Centre

While Rendlesham Forest Centre is a great place to ride bikes, have a picnic and take the kids to play, it has a fascinating history. Did you know it is famous for some mysterious UFO sightings in the 80s? Walk the UFO trail to find out more!

Where is it? Tangham, Woodbridge IP12 3NF

Is it buggy friendly? Yes, some trails are.

Where are the toilets? By the car park, including disabled facilities.

Parking: Remember some change for the car park.

Outdoor amenities: Walking trails, cycle trails, orienteering trails, bike park, bike hire, play areas, picnic areas, barbecues.

Clare Castle Country Park

Do a bit of extra homeschooling when you visit Clare Castle Country Park, where the kids can do some local history study as they discover the remains of the 13th century stone castle keep, which sits on its 60ft-high motte. Let them have a run around on the open green space and then follow the footpaths through the trees and along the banks of the River Stour and the old railway line.

Where is it? Maltings Lane, Clare CO10 8NW

Is it buggy friendly? Yes, some circular walks are accessible.

Where are the toilets? In the cafe, which is in an old Victorian railway bookings hall.

Parking: Paid parking on site.

Outdoor amenities: Cafe, playground, circular walks, stream, ponds.

Size: 36 acres

Knettishall Heath

This nature reserve has some nice short trails to follow - up to 2.5 miles long - and the route along the river is accessible to all. Dog owners will be glad to hear that it is dog friendly and there are areas where they can be off-lead too. Ponies and cattle are sometimes grazing too at this reserve, which has woodland, riverside meadows, and heathland. Look out for buzzards, skylarks and white admirals.

Where is it? Knettishall Heath, Thetford. IP22 2TQ

Is it buggy friendly? Yes, some paths are.

Parking: Free parking and toilets on site.

Outdoor amenities: Picnic area

Size: 430 acres

Redgrave and Lopham Fen

We bet you didn't know one of the most important wetlands in Europe was in Suffolk, did you? Redgrave and Lopham Fen is the largest valley fen in England and home to the fen raft spider - see if you can one at the edge of the water. Loom out for Cattle and Konik ponies grazing. In the summer look out for hobbies skimming the pools on the hunt for dragonflies and go in the evening to catch a glimpse of a hunting barn owl.

Where is it? Low Common Road, South Lopham, Diss. IP22 2HX

Is it buggy friendly? On some trails but paths are quite rough.

Where are the toilets? At the education centre. Disabled toilets.

Parking: Free car and cycle parking.

Outdoor amenities: Walking trails and picnic area.

Size: 163 hectares



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