There is arguably nowhere in Suffolk that offers a better family day out than Southwold: this charming seaside town is as picturesque and quintessentially English as they come. The famous 18th century lighthouse sits in the centre of a cosy collection of shops, pubs, restaurant and houses. Looking out across a breathtaking coastline it has guided vessels into Southwold Harbour for well over 100 years.
View this post on Instagram
The harbour itself is home to a boatyard, chandlery, brokerage and the award winning Harbour Cafe. Nestled directly on the banks of the River Blyth the cafe alone is reason enough to pay Southwold a visit. Open every day between 8am and 4pm this eatery bakes fresh scones, cakes and offers a decent list of specials. It’s your choice of a light bite or lunch by the river as soups, quiche and salads are joined by more hearty favourites such lasagne and jacket potatoes. They have a great policy of supporting local producers too so it’s the ideal place to get a taste of real Suffolk.
The relaxed, informal building couldn’t be anymore fitting to its riverside location as oil lanterns and vintage life-rings hang from wooden beams that curve across the roof to give the impression of being inside a gigantic upturned boat. The outside area is perfect for catching a bit of rest-bite and refreshment with ice creams and chilled drinks in the summer sun whilst during those colder winter months there is nothing more comforting than warming up indoors with a decent coffee and cake by the roaring log-burner.
If a good beer is more appealing than a mug of tea then the famous Adnams brewery is right around the corner. This is one of the most respected independent beer companies in the world and a jewel in the crown of Suffolk’s proud brewing tradition. Take a tour of the building, learn the production process and visit the Adnams store to take something home with you… considering the town’s iconic lighthouse makes up the logo for its signature ale, a bottle of Adnams Southwold may be the only memento needed to remember your trip.
Southwold lies 30 minutes from from some award winning floating accommodation: The Onderneming and Twee Gebroeders. Both vessels are late 1800s sailing barges, the former is moored on the river Alde whilst the latter can be found on the Deben. Proudly combining ‘luxury with an open, dog-friendly approach’, both boats sleep up to 4 and flawlessly blend historic touches with 21st century comfort. If dry land is more your thing then head to Woodfarm Barns. This gorgeous dog-friendly accommodation is made up of a collection of six cottages and an exquisitely maintained 500 year old farm house. All three options are perfect for families and friends staying in Suffolk who want their holiday to live and breath what makes this county so special.
RSPB Minsmere is a fabulous popular destination for twitchers and non-twitchers alike
There’s tons to see (and hear) with stunning coastal scenes accompanied by rare birds breeding and calling in on their annual migrations. There are also otters to be seen in the reedbeds if you look carefully and a plethora of wild flowers and plants
It’s a great place all year round and the visitors centre is free, with helpful staff and volunteers. They also have a great little RSPB shop and café, serving teas and light meals using locally sourced ingredients. There’s also their Discovery Centre and Wild Zone for families, and they have guided walks throughout the year
One of England’s designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
We are lucky enough to have two AONB’s in Suffolk! See our other post here on the Dedham Vale AONB
Back to the coastal one! This stretches all the way from Lowestoft down to the River Sour, meeting up with the Dedham Vale, providing us with stunning heathland, reed beds, salt-marsh and mud-flats
It’s landscape also features the estuaries of five Suffolk rivers; four of which we named Barns after here at Woodfarm; Alde, Deben, Orwell and Stour, as well as the river Blyth
Another Adnams eaterie on Southwold’s High Street in Suffolk
The Crown is just a hop , skip and jump from the seaside. They have a lovely snug ‘Back Bar’ where you can sample a range of fabulous Adnams famous beer, as well as a more formal restaurant
The food is famously good and the wine list wonderful, not to remind you of their well-known beers. 2014 saw them win Suffolk Dining Pub of the Year for the 2nd year in a row by The Good Pub Guide and a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence (like us then!)
An antiques and collectables ‘Emporium’ overlooking the beautiful Meare
In the heart of Thorpeness, they have loads of displays and rooms with outside areas offering a wide selection of
Bygones and collectables
Antique (and not so) furniture
Old jewellery etc
Serena Hall is a professional artist, resident in sunny Southwold, Suffolk since she was twelve
She opened her first gallery in 1999 and now has her well-established, Serena Hall Gallery in the popular seaside town. Her style is very recognisable, with broad brush strokes and vibrant colours, the subject matter inspired by Southwold
In addition to her own work, the gallery also plays host to other artists, the full details of which can be seen on her website
My favourite river in Suffolk
The Stour stretches all the way from Sudbury, out through the meandering Suffolk countryside of Bures, Wormingford, Nayland, Stratford St Mary, Dedham and then to Mistley and Manningtree where it heads out to the sea. Admittedly it’s now ventured across the border into Essex but it’s still beautiful. The river path is full of stunning landscapes and the river itself makes for some wonderful boating. This stretch is my favourite kayak route
Possibly the most breathtaking part of the journey and closest to Woodfarm is the bit between Dedham and Flatford, with beautiful scenery and old houses, culminating in the National Trust site at Flatford
From its source river, the Gipping, Orwell heads out to the sea on the Suffolk coast
We have named all the barns in the meadow after local Suffolk rivers; Alde, Deben, Gipping, Orwell and Stour. The River Gipping is the source river for the River Orwell (the barn next door!), and also hooks up with the river Stour
Charles Dickens wrote about the Gipping and Orwell rivers and the latter is where the writer Eric Blair took his pen name ‘George Orwell’ from after his love of the river and the area
The river Deben gives nearby Debenham its name, where it starts its journey through 25 miles of Suffolk to the sea near Woodbridge
Debenham is a quaint little village and a popular place to visit, as many of our guests do. And yes, it is where the department store gets its name as the founder lived here before setting off some 300 years ago to London to set up his high class haberdashery. He did quite well!
We have named all the barns in the meadow after local Suffolk rivers; Alde, Deben, Gipping, Orwell and Stour
Superb traditional smokehouse by the quayside in Orford
They smoke two types of cheese for six days; mature English Cheddar and Long Clauson’s blue Stilton
Garlic Bulbs, locally made sausages, including Pork and Venison, Pork and Garlic and a very hot Chorizo, three different type’s of Pate, Salmon, Kipper and Mackerel as well as Salmon Fish Cakes
My personal favourite is their smoked Hock of Ham, which is phenomenal. They marinate them in a mixture of Cider and Black Treacle, boil them for hours, cover them in Brown Sugar and flash roast in the oven until they are black and crispy! Wow!