Coast and Heaths

The Leiston-cum-Sizewell coast and its Suffolk Sandlings heaths are simply amazing – blessed with a beautiful, natural coastline and an immensely nature-rich spread of heath- and marshland habitats on its doorstep.

Criss-crossed with a network of paths, it is an area that’s treasured as somewhere to enjoy, enriching the lives of those who live or stay locally or simply choose to visit. It is precious to us all. Please enjoy responsibly.

An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Some of these areas make up part of the Suffolk Sandlings – a rare sandy heathland landscape reduced to just 20% of its former self since the 1930s, which represents 1% of all the remaining lowland heath in the world.

The Suffolk Coasts & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty includes the Suffolk Sandlings and a significant area of Leiston-cum-Sizewell as well as its surrounding villages of Sizewell, Eastbridge and Thorpeness. The legal protection of these countryside, coastal and village landscapes recognises their importance for wildlife on a local, national, European and global scale.
Please enjoy responsibly.

rare vegetated shingle Sizewell Suffolk
Sizewell shingle beach with fishing boats Suffolk

Sizewell Beach & the Smugglers’ Coast

You’ll find fishing boats and an historic watch tower gracing Sizewell beach – Leiston’s inspiring wild stretch of coast. Its shingle banks, dunes and heaths were once the haunt of notorious gangs of tea and tobacco smugglers and today play home to ground breaking power plant technologies for green energy.

Just 2 miles from Leiston and a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike, Sizewell is a lovely little community, complete with refreshment facilities and comfort stops  – a brilliant place for dog walks, gentle strolls, 5k Park Runs or simply putting a toe (or body board) in the water. Don’t miss the cliff side walk for great North Sea views! Never been? Well, you’ve missed a real local treat.

Find out more

Commons, Heaths & Nature Reserves

Follow the Sandlings Walk through the plantation of conifers and mixed woodland at Kenton Hills and past Goose Hill’s traditional cattle-grazed marshes to the coast. Stroll out across Leiston Common, a very rare area of lowland heath and drop down along sandy footpaths to Sizewell beach with its tufty dunes, gorse and vegetated shingle.

From linnets and lizards to Green Hairstreak butterflies or Silver Studded Blues; Darter dragonflies to gadwall and goldfinches or maybe even a water vole, what will you discover in Leiston’s collection of wonderful Suffolk Sandlings nature reserves?

Sandy heathland near Sizewell Suffolk

Discover Wild Aldhurst

Explore Leiston’s brand new wildlife habitat by the Suffolk coast.

Wild Aldhurst is a nature reserve located just a short walk from Leiston town centre which is open to the public.

This rewilding conservation project has been created to improve the area’s biodiversity as well as restore and support nature in the face of climate change.

Find out more
Wild Aldhurst Nature Reserve Leiston
Thorpeness Meare Suffolk

Quirky Thorpeness & its Beach

Whether you walk down the beautifully untamed shingle coast on the Suffolk Coast Path from Sizewell or up from Aldeburgh, or choose to cycle or drive through the coconut-scented  Sandlings heaths  from Aldringham, nothing will prepare you for the House in the Clouds on the horizon at the fairytale Edwardian holiday village of Thorpeness. Enjoy a genteel model resort, sandwiched between a wonderfully wide shingle beach and man-made Meare with Peter Pan connections. You’ll think you’ve landed in Never-never-land!           

Go Explore!

Walking – Coast & Countryside

Two signposted long distance paths will guide you along the Leiston-cum-Sizewell stretch of coast and heaths: The Suffolk Coast Path and Sandlings Walk.

There’s also a network of public footpaths out of Leiston town, plus bridleways, byways and permissive paths across the Leiston-cum-Sizewell, including parts of the old railway track bed leading down from Leiston towards Thorpeness.

Find out more
Leiston Abbey Ruins and Lady Chapel Concert Hall
happy hounds on dog-friendly Sizewell beach

The Dog-friendly Coast

Dog-loving Sizewell beach is one of only a few Suffolk coast beaches which welcomes four-legged friends with responsible owners throughout the year, allowing unrestricted access to the beach.

Other beaches nearby may be restriction-free in the winter months only – parts of Thorpeness, Aldeburgh and Southwold beaches are clearly signposted as out of bounds to dogs from April/ May to September.

In key wildlife areas, restrictions may be in place to protect ground-nesting birds.

Cycling – Little Lanes & Off-road Paths

Like to get from A to B by bike? Enjoy mini-adventures pedaling down quiet country lanes to make new discoveries? Into more speedy road cycling? Or maybe off-roading more your thing?

Whatever type of two-wheeled activity takes your fancy, Leiston-sum-Sizewell is sure to please – there’s even scope for an awesome scoot and skate park!

Check out our designated quiet lanes where cyclists and pedestrians have priority or head off-piste down heathland tracks and bridleways. Whatever route you choose, you’re sure to find inviting café and cake refuelling stops in the different communities along the way.

Find out more
Cycling on Sizewell cliff path near Leiston Suffolk
bird murmuration near Leiston Suffolk

Leiston’s Birdwatching Coast

Get your binoculars at the ready! No trip to this neck of the woods, heaths, marshlands or coast is complete without them!

With RSPB Minsmere just 4.5 miles away and a whole host of nature reserves and cared for wildlife habitats along its coast, Leiston-cum-Sizewell makes an ideal base-camp for any birding short break – whether you’re flying solo, a couple of love birds or plan on flying in with the whole brood!

Enjoying the coast and countryside?

Please tread carefully. Stick to paths and tracks. Clear up after your dog and dispose of waste and litter responsibly. Thank you for following the countryside code and respecting the privacy and property of local residents.