Exploring Suffolk: making the most of your stay

Suffolk is not even in England’s top ten largest counties, yet it is blessed with widely different terrain and attractions. To the east, you have the glorious Suffolk coast, with wonderful seaside towns and areas of natural beauty such as Minsmere, where the BBC Springwatch programme is filmed. There is the Cathedral town of Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket to the west, the home of horse racing.

Throw in the beautiful countryside throughout, like Constable Country and the Stour Valley, with their AONB status, and the Orwell estuary, the picture-postcard Suffolk wool towns, fascinating history, fantastic country pubs and abundant recreations like sailing and golf, and it’s easy to see why Suffolk is such a joy.

All of this, and much more, sits under the famous Suffolk skies, wide, sweeping panoramas that change with the seasons but always take your breath away.

If you are thinking of staying with us in the Hadleigh area, you will be ideally located to explore all that Suffolk offers, with everything within easy reach for day trips to remember. In this guide, we highlight just a small selection of things to do.

The Suffolk Coast

It may be only 50 miles long, but the Suffolk coast packs quite a punch. From wide, sandy beaches to the north in Lowestoft, through areas of outstanding natural beauty (Suffolk Coast and Heaths), the coast is a mixture of wild beauty, where land meets the North Sea, and Edwardian splendour with exquisite coastal resorts.

Southwold is a beautiful town with its own lighthouse and the nationally-renowned Adnams brewery. Why not visit the pier, then take a brewery tour and enjoy lunch in one of the many fine seaside pubs.

Further south is Aldeburgh, where Benjamin Britten lived and wrote so much of his music. The nearby Snape Maltings concert venue has regular performances for those with a musical taste, but the Maltings itself is worth a visit, with retail outlets and a café. Just up the coast from Aldeburgh is Thorpeness, a village that became a whimsical holiday village devised by landowner Stuart Ogilvie. The Mere boating lake dominates in the centre, plus you will marvel at the House in the Clouds, a converted water tower. Golf lovers will enjoy the splendid Thorpeness or Aldeburgh heathland courses.

Further down the coast is Bawdsey, where radar was invented ahead of World War Two, and Orford, the quintessential riverside village with amazing pubs, seafood and river cruises. And for those who prefer something a little more modern, the town of Felixstowe is the closest seaside, which has all the attractions of a modern resort juxtaposed with the quirkiness and charm of Old Felixstowe.

Bury St Edmunds

While the county town of Ipswich is the biggest residential area, and is the oldest continuously inhabited town in England, Bury St Edmunds to the west of the county is rich in history, too. It’s where King Edmund, the original patron saint of England and King of East Anglia, lived until an unfortunate incident with some Danish invaders in November 869. Edmund refused to denounce his Christianity and it didn’t end well.

Fortunately, much lives on in his name. His remains, after going on something of a UK tour, ended up in what is now Bury St Edmunds, although the exact spot remains a mystery. Some say he rests in the Abbey Gardens (perfect for walking off a hearty pub lunch), while others believe he may be under St Edmundsbury Cathedral. Originally a 10th-century church called St Denis’s; it was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries before becoming a cathedral in 1914.

You’ll find Bury St Edmunds to be a lively market town, with interesting independent shops and an abundance of pubs and tea rooms.

Places of interest

Suffolk has so much to explore that it’s a test to pick out our favourites. However, if we had to settle for three more, these would be hard to beat:

The county is blessed with natural beauty, and water plays a big part in it. There is the North Sea, of course, but also attractive rivers. To the north of the county is the Suffolk Broads, which feeds into the Norfolk Broads network. Meanwhile, the east of the county enjoys the Rivers Orwell, Stour, and Deben.

If you visit the Shotley Peninsula, you will find the Stour meeting the Orwell. The area is perfect for walking and bicycle rides, with country lanes crisscrossing the main roads, although these, too, are quiet. Be sure to visit Pin Mill, and seek refreshment in the 16th-century Butt & Oyster pub while watching the boats sailing up and down.

Bird lovers will no doubt know about Minsmere already. The reserve is a paradise for Twitchers but is much loved by walkers, too. Combine a trip with a visit to nearby Dunwich, once one of England’s most important cities, now mostly lost to the sea. The Greyfriars remains can still be explored, while you can then have fish and chips from the car park café or sit and enjoy lunch in The Ship Inn.

Alternatives near Minsmere include Walberswick and Eastbridge (try the Eel’s Foot pub).

The county town has an interesting history, and you can learn all about it in the town’s museum. But wandering around the town centre highlights some wonderful old timber-framed buildings, like the Ancient House, a Grade 1 listed building dating back to the 15th century.

Ipswich has been around a long time. It’s the oldest Anglo-Saxon town in England and was granted a royal charter in 1200. Cardinal Wolsey was from the town, and it has always enjoyed wealth from its port. The port still operates but much of the land is now recreational – the Ipswich Waterfront is well worth an evening visit.

Walks and more

Suffolk is a rural county, and that’s good news for those of you who enjoy getting out and about and enjoying the countryside. There are numerous walks in areas of outstanding natural beauty. The Dedham Vale to the south of the county, Stour Valley, Suffolk heathland and, of course, the coast offers amazing walks.

A brief search online will throw up suggestions for many circular walks that have a happy habit of including a nice county pub or two along the way. Dogs are welcome in most country pubs.

Ask us for ideas

We hope this guide has given you some inspiration to get out there and sample some of Suffolk’s delights. Whether it’s fresh air, history, shops, pubs, boating or golf, there are plenty of choices. Please contact us if you have any questions – we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

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