by alice | Jun 21, 2016 |

Jasper’s Jottings - A Trek Through Tunstall Forest

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Our second walk of the Easter Holidays took us to Tunstall Forest. Tunstall Forest was started in the 1920s as a pine plantation and after the Great Storm of 1987 when the forest lost thousands of trees, the opportunity was taken to diversify the mix of trees planted. Today, trees of all shapes and sizes stand in the forest, some in the regimented order of the original plantation while others grow wilder.


The forest spans between the villages of Tunstall, Iken, Chillesford and Orford. Tunstall Forest Livery is based in the forest and are few way to better explore and see the beauty of the area than on horseback. But that is an idea for another time, as I doubt Jasper would have liked horseriding as much as I would.


There are lots of small areas to park in the forest off the main road that cuts through it; I stopped at one of the first we came across as Jasper was impatiently whining to be getting started with his walk. As these parking areas are so close to the road, and given that horse riders make use of the forest as well, I kept Jasper on his lead until we were well into the forest.


As we began our walk we could hear the chirping of birds in the trees and could see the occasional finch and sparrow dart between branches or fly over the path ahead of us. Jasper found all sorts of things to smell, stopping every five paces to inspect the grass, the sandy soil and fallen branches. He decided there was one branch in particular he wanted to keep and ran along with it for a little while before he found a better one later on.


Tunstall Forest has a great cycling path called the Viking Trail. 10 miles in length, it encircles much of the forest and weaves between the trees. It is graded as red for its difficulty due to the width of the trail rather than the severity. It is a fast, narrow singletrack which takes about 90 minutes to complete. There is a shortcut you can use to cut through if you don’t want as full on a challenge. We encountered several cyclists who looked to be enjoying themselves on the Viking Trail. Jasper, ever anxious to make new friends with everyone, went on his lead as we passed the cyclists. He stopped to watch them go before hurrying me along on our adventure.


I walked Jasper in a sweeping circle which took us just under two hours to complete. Aside from the Viking Trail, not much in the Tunstall Forest is signed - it helps if you have a strong sense of direction. That said, with no strict path to follow, Jasper and I freely rambled down different tracks; some well trodden, others new.


We spotted a squirrel perched in the crook of an oak tree that soon darted out of sight when it clocked Jasper heading in its direction. We saw several robins as well, all of which flew away the moment I raised my camera to take a picture. We were even lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a muntjac deer. No doubt it spotted us long before we saw it as the most I could see of the muntjac was the white flash of its fast retreating tail. Jasper failed to see the muntjac, thank goodness, but did stop for an extra long sniff of where it had been.


Bring your dog on holiday to Suffolk! Stay near Tunstall Forest at Pump Cottage, Orford (sleeps 3), 1 Tudor Cottages, Blaxhall (sleeps 2) or Padley Water, Chillesford (sleeps 4)

Click here to read Part Three


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