February 25, 2012

Suffolk

Should you want to explore further afield during your stay, there are plenty of options.

We’ve picked some of the region’s highlights…

 
Once home to Benjamin Britten, Aldeburgh now plays host to an annual classical music festival. Its shingle beach might not have the instant appeal of Southwold’s sandy stretches, but its town sits nicely along the edge of the sea, featuring an interesting collection of boutique shops, and pleasant eating places.

Aldeburgh's shingle beach. Photo source: coastalconnect.co.uk

Aldeburgh’s shingle beach. Photo source: coastalconnect.co.uk

Further south along the coast you’ll find Snape Maltings. Started by Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears its Snape Maltings Concert Hall provides a magical setting to see and hear his and other works performed. The hall sits alongside marshes and the river Deben, which winds away into the distance towards the sea. The Maltings were originally part of the local brewery, and represent an immense range of redbrick buildings, nearly all of which have been converted into an artisan shopping experience.

It’s a lovely place to spend half a day looking round, and then stopping for a drink or a meal at one of the pubs, or its in-built café.

Not much remains of the ancient city of Dunwich, a few miles south of Southwold, but in the 13th century, it was the third largest coastal city in the country. Coastal erosion has eaten away nearly all of the churches and fortifications, but the café in the car park, although basic in appearance, serves some of the best fish and chips in the county, and further down the one remaining village street, there is a tiny museum with fascinating relics from the past.

This small painting of Dunwich was one of eight produced by Turner for a work entitled The East Coast of England. Produced in around 1830, it shows the ruins of All Saints church on the cliff. Visit the Dunwich Museum to find out why these are no longer standing.

This small painting of Dunwich was one of eight produced by Turner in around 1830 for a work entitled The East Coast of England. It shows the ruins of All Saints church on the cliff. Visit the Dunwich Museum to find out why these are no longer standing.

Walberswick is a sleepy village, just the other side of the harbour mouth to Southwold, and has a definite arty feel to it. In the centre is a pretty village green with attractive cottages all around, and a sprinkling of teashops and gift and antique shops.

Access is either by the ferry, which is still rowed by hand from Southwold harbour, and drops you close to the village, or by walking inland along the river’s edge around half a mile, past all the quaint old fishing huts and boats, and then crossing the river Blyth on the Bailey Bridge, a relic of the Southwold steam railway, which closed in 1929.

It’s a pleasant walk on a sunny day, and we recommend a coffee in the little garden behind the Parish Lantern gift shop, where sparrows flitter to and fro, sometimes within inches of your nose.

Minsmere is a large RSPB bird reserve just south of Dunwich, formed originally by the deliberate flooding of marshes adjoining the sea, to prevent a German invasion during World War 2. Now, the same lagoons play host to a huge variety of wild birds, both migratory and indigenous, and is host to one of the rarest birds of the marshes, the Bittern, now fortunately growing in numbers. There are hides dotted about where keen bird-watchers can observe the wild life in comparative comfort, and also a cafe and gift shop.

Splash out and take the rowing boat ferry from Southwold harbour, across the water to Walberswick

Splash out and take the rowing boat ferry from Southwold harbour, across the water to Walberswick. Image by landscape artist Matthew Garrard

Hot competition: Walberswick crabbing championship

Hot competition: Walberswick crabbing championship. Photo from edp24.co.uk

Minsmere's reedbeds

Minsmere’s reedbeds. Photo source: wildlifeextra.com