Richard, Elinor and I took a trip to Dunwich Heath at the end of August last year. We wanted to go somewhere different to our usual places but didn’t want to make a long journey.
The County of Suffolk has six topographical regions each with its own distinct landscape features. I live in High Suffolk with its boulder-clay soil but just a couple of miles to the East of us the soil changes and becomes sand and gravel. This gravelly area is called The Sandlings and Dunwich Heath (part of the Sandlings) is right on the coast. To quote the National Trust description of the area –
‘Dunwich Heath is where the Sandlings meets the sea. It is 87 hectares (215 acres) of heather, gorse, grassland, woodland and crumbling sandy cliffs, as well as a mile of shifting sand and shingle beach. The Sandlings landscape was created by early farmers thousands of years ago. The sandy, free-draining soils became dominated by heather as farmers cleared the trees and introduced sheep to graze the land.
Within the Sandlings, only at Dunwich does the heathland extend to the cliff top – a rare example of coastal lowland heath.’
Late summer and early autumn is the best time to visit heathland as that is the time the heather is in flower.
The sands are known as ‘crags’. The southern sandling crags are the oldest – a shelly ‘Coralline Crag’ which was deposited in warm tropical conditions about 3.5 million years ago forms an island and is surrounded by a sea of ‘Red Crag’ which is also full of fossilised shells. The northern crag known as ‘Norwich Crag’ is younger and is less than 2 million years old. Dunwich Heath is part of the ‘Norwich Crag’.
I have found three Belemnite fossils in my garden. Perhaps some gravel containing these fossils was brought to the area when the house was built or perhaps the land where we live is the border between the clay soil and the sandy soil.
Richard and I left Elinor on the beach and went for a walk.
I heard and then saw a Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata) on the top of a Gorse bush, but he was too far away to photograph.
This next photograph really makes me laugh!
‘Oh wad some power the giftie gie us / To see oursel’s as others see us! / It wad frae monie a blunder free us, / And foolish notion.’ Robert Burns
We ended our visit with a cake each and a drink of choice at the tea-room.
Thank-you for visiting!