The Geography Department


Dunwich Heath   February 12  2002


These photographs are designed to help in the first  steps to establish lines of enquiry at Dunwich Heath, on our Fieldwork Days of 22 and 23 May, 2002.




The Coastguard Cottages, Dunwich Heath   


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Dunwich Beach 2000


Dunwich Beach 2001  taken  Sunday 13 May 2001


Dunwich Heath - the main areas of study in Spring 2002


Fieldwork in May 2002

Dunwich Beach -Wednesday and Thursday

Dunwich - tourism pressures

Dunwich - management practices


Fieldwork in May 2003

Beach photographs from Mon 20 May and Friday 23 May 2003

Photos from Mr Duncan of the tourist pressures


Fieldwork in May 2004 Sunday 16, Tuesday 25,  and Thursday 27 May


Dunwich Forest and Heath November 2004

Dunwich update April and May 2005


Dunwich beach and Dingle Marsh breach 29 Nov 2006

Dunwich beach and Dingle Marsh update 19 May 2007


Dunwich Heath May 19 2007


The environment around the Coastguards Cottages.



Looking back along the entry road, from the cottages. Three or four speed humps are the first management sign.


Car parking is mainly opposite the cottages, were there is an automatic teller machine and a toilet nearby.


A hut in the car park, used for National Trust recruitment.


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Opposite the car park and toilet block is a concrete footpath to the cottages, with signing and the entrance gate.



A 'giving' opportunity at the pebble pedestal, together with the cottages. The building contain a gift shop and coffee shop, and an elevated viewing area, indicated by the horizontal slit windows.


The area in front of the cottages, with bench seating and open space. Playground equipment has been installed in this area.


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The education centre, with an equipped classroom area and a resident education officer, David Partridge.

David Partridge
Learning Officer    National Trust
Dunwich Heath   Suffolk
IP17 4DS   01728 648 501


A bottle bank is emptied, practising what they preach!




Behind the education centre, the building in the middle of the shot, is open space and a few picnic tables. Parking is also possible here. A track leads off across the heath, as does a footpath.

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A rare view of standing water in front of the Coastguard Cottages. the sandy soil here is usually quick to drain.




From the Coastguard Cottages looking north. A trackway, used by Trust vehicles and a garage, pained in coastal tar black!

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From the parking area by the cliff top, some of which is now blocked off, due to erosion. Parking and buildings are being partially obscured by furze.


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The vegetation cover at the south end of Dunwich Heath



The edge of the property, to the south, falls down to the Minsmere marshes, the RSPB reserve. Heathland gives way to reeds.


The high point from where the photos either side were taken. the ground is littered by pebbles, and covered with bracken, furze and some pines.


A close up of the Minsmere environment

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This very flat image is, in fact, heather, and a far cry from the attractive flowers of autumn.


Some birch is attempting a comeback along this path from the study centre.


Only occasional mowing of the heather and gorse keeps saplings from becoming dominant in this ecosystem.

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Early flowering of the gorse.


Gorse and heather (now possibly in need of mowing) on the seaward side of the road.


More gorse near the cliff-line. The beach, Dunwich village and Southwold show up on this photograph.

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Towards the north of the site are stronger signs that the vegetation is reverting to its climax type, birch dominant. Here more trees appear in the distance. The wooden posts are car park boundary markers.


The gorse and heather share space with a good deal of bramble here. This area has a number of patches of concrete foundation, dating from WWII buildings.


The heath and the cliffs.


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Footpaths, erosion and closure


Deep ruts made by vehicles mark the skyline of a track coming up the slope from Minsmere. the soils here are very fragile to any disturbance.


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The trackway is barred by wooden posts, and has a satellite footway running alongside it. The track has eaten into the surface of the heath to some depth.


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The footpath leading from the study centre to the north .


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A section of the footpath opposite. An A$ booklet on Dunwich acts as a scale. The cross-section of the path can be measured and erosion at this point can be recorded.


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The major pathway northwards from the Coastguard Cottages is wide, and getting wider.


A stopping place along the path has been engineered - a management feature.



The path and the park seat in context .


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Further north an old path has been fence doff. This path has been lost to the sea dozen metres down its length.


Behind the fence the vegetation has regenerated over much of the path's surface.


A close-up of the edge of the repairing section of path.

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Two stretches of footpath worthy of study and measurement. Visitor erosion has stripped away their vegetation cover, widened their extent to nearly 2 metres and etched them into the heathland. Sites such as this could be measured, photographed and the plant species recorded; various sites could then be compared.



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Cliffs and the beach



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A profile of the cliffs at Dunwich. The vegetation cover at the top, and on various parts of the cliff face can be seen. Also visible, and capable of being recorded, is the strata of sand and pebble, beneath a covering of sandy humus.




To the right is the confused collapse of the cliff at the Minsmere (southern) end.


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The bottom of the cliff has been fenced off to protect sand martins.


Access to the beach at the southern end of the cliffs at Dunwich.


Signposting of the fenced-off area.


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The track down to the beach ends with a fenced off area for nesting birds, and a beach reinforced with additional shingle.


Signposting is not always effective!


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The cliff where the fencing stops, and a suitable place for both cliff and beach profile to be taken.


A close-up of the layers pf pebbles.


Sand martins nest holes near the top of the cliff.

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The extent of the beach, showing the range of materials of which it is made.


A suitable place for a cliff cross profile.


Here a gully has fretted the cliff line. The cluster of pebbles at the base of the cliff shows erosion still continues.

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Large pieces of humus-rich sand and pebbles fall down the cliff complete.


An area of recent and ongoing cliff-fall, although limited in extent.


From the top of the cliff a fairly wide beach is apparent.

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The cliffs at Dunwich Heath have become vegetated over a number of years when cliff erosion has not been very active.


Wave conditions can always be compared with the state of the beach, by measuring both elements.


The foreshore can always be the focus of a debris survey, looking at the nature of pollution and their origins.

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The greyness of Sizewell 'A' and 'B' nuclear power stations loom above the wetlands of the Minsmere RSPB reserve.


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Fieldwork  2005