Suffolk, with its pubs, unspoilt countryside and seaside is the perfect place to escape the city for a few days. Plus, it’s only 90 minutes from London!
Aldeburgh – where the celebs hang out
Aldeburgh is perhaps the most well-known spot in the region. Once a fishing village, the place is now beloved of celebrities and artists – actor Bill Nighy, comedian Rowan Atkinson and novelist Esther Freud have associations with it – as well as stressed-out city workers seeking refuge.
Consequently, the high street is lined with quirky shops and galleries, but visit the shingle beach and the back streets adjacent to it. Former fishermen’s cottages are now painted cheerful pastel colours and, against a backdrop of fishing boats and a shifting sea, it’s not hard to imagine yourself staying there forever.
Nearby Dunwich was once the prosperous heart of the region in the Middle Ages but, unfortunately, has been falling off crumbling cliffs and into the sea since the 13th century. The National Trust-owned Dunwich Heath, however, offers excellent walking and bird watching adjacent to the sea and on the shore itself, and when the wind isn’t howling off the North Sea, you’ll spot nightjars, woodlarks and Dartford warblers.
Fish, chips and cider
Flora Tearooms in Dunwich are famous for their fish and chips. Dreaming of knickerbocker glories? If so, the extravagant ice cream sundaes are permanently on the menu here.
Suffolk’s nightlife isn’t exactly kicking, but make sure you try Perronelle’s Blush – a local cider laced with a shot of blackberry liqueur.
Southwold and Walberswick
Driving further up the coast, you’ll reach Southwold and Walberswick, with their stone cottages, lanes flanked with grasses and flowers, fishing boats and small shops.
Cross the River Blyth, just north of Walberwsick via a footbridge, or take the rowboat ferry – the fare for humans is 80p but dogs ride free.
Once in Southwold you’ll be spoilt for choice as to what to see first. Would it be the Electric Picture Palace – Southwold’s old-fashioned cinema – the iconic beach huts, the beach itself, the pier, Adnams brewery, the farmers’ market or one of the village’s many tearooms?
Outside activities in Suffolk
Cycling is an excellent way to explore the flat countryside and you’ll find cycle routes at suffolk.gov.uk. Byways Bicycles (bywaysbicycles.co.uk) has bikes for hire.
Twitchers and walkers will love the marshes that cover much of coastal Suffolk and bird-friendly charity RSPB is active in the area. Dunwich Heath (nationaltrust.org.uk) has marked trails that offer good bird spotting as well as a lookout from which you can catch a glimpse of porpoises and seals.
With many river mouths in the region, paddling and boating are popular – try slaughdensailingclub.co.uk or coastalvoyager.co.uk.
Essential information on visiting Suffolk
WHEN TO GO: Summers can be fine and hot. The North Sea makes winters bitterly cold.
GETTING THERE: Trains go from London Liverpool Street to Saxmunham and Darsham, or take the National Express coach to Ipswich and use local buses. Hire a car at easycar.com/tntmagazine to receive a 5 per cent discount.
GETTING AROUND: Hire a bike or car, or use local buses, but note that services can be infrequent.
GOING OUT: A beer costs about £3.
ACCOMMODATION: Camping pitches start from £15 at Southwold Harbour Camping and Caravan Park, (01502 722486).
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