There are countless reasons to visit Sutton Hoo, the history, the fabulous views of the river Deben, the excellent National Trust cafe. However, it can be tricky to decide where to walk first, especially if you have small children with you. I’m here to help with three options for short walks around the site.
The entrance delivers you straight into the visitor centre area, which has a couple of shops, a play area, a cafe and a museum. It is worth pausing to admire the impressive art pieces here. A giant copy of the Sutton Hoo mask welcomes you in the car park, and it only gets better. Stepping through the entrance, you are greeted with an impressive metal replica of the Saxon ship uncovered here. Tempting as it may be, you are politely asked not to climb on the sculpture.
For many visitors to Sutton Hoo, the star attraction can be found in the museum. The Anglo Saxon history unearthed here is world-famous. Among the archaeology is a replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet; the real one resides in the British Museum. Unfortunately, on the two occasions, I have been to Sutton Hoo, the museum was closed due to Covid. On the plus side, we have an excuse to go again.
Shop and Cafe
The National Trust shop and cafe are the same here as they are at every National Trust site. The shop sells expensive but good quality souvenirs and the cafe has a good range of food. The soup was delicious.
Mounds and ship are a theme here at Sutton Hoo, and both feature in the children’s playground. A boat is always popular with my children as pirates is a favourite game.
Sutton Hoo Short Walks
Sutton Hoo Short Burial Mounds Walk
Both burial mounds treks begin by taking a left at the far end of the boat, passing by the buildings and gong through the metal gate. I found the signpost indicating the routes to the burial mounds confusing because the arrow designating the shorter one seems to point directly away from the bumps. However, if you follow the path, it quickly turns 180 degrees (past the gate you probably just walked through). It continues along the top of the ridge, taking you directly to there. The circular route around the mounds themselves is short, and the views are not spectacular. However, there is a viewing tower which would be a much better viewpoint if it wasn’t currently closed due to Covid.
This route is accessible with only a couple of gates to slow you down.
Sutton Hoo Longer Burial Mounds Walk
The extended version of the walk above isn’t actually that much longer. It begins and ends in the same way. The difference is that instead of taking the easy route along the ridge, you drop into the valley, following the path of the burial ship towards its final resting place. The trail then curves back up the hill, joining the circular walk around the mounds.
Sutton Hoo River View Woodlands Walk
You can visit Sutton Hoo without ever seeing the burial mounds. This is what we did on our first visit in favour of coaxing a reluctant three-year-old around the woodland walk. The walk begins by descending into the valley before taking a 90 degree turn to the right and into the woods. What follows is a peaceful stroll through the deep dark woods with the occasional tantalising glimpse down to the river. It swings round in a circuit returning to the playground at the visitor centre where you can grab a cup of coffee and watch the children in their element.
This route is described in reverse on the National Trust website. It does state that this route is not suitable for pushchairs, but we had no problem getting around with one. It might have been different if there had been a lot of rain, though.
Longer Sutton Hoo Walks
The on site routes are all moderately short, which suits my two small children. If you are looking for something longer, I recommend looking at the National Trust website. You won’t find any challenging hikes here, but they will give you some longer options.