Beautiful, unspoilt and quintessentially English: Pin Mill is a gorgeous Suffolk landmark frozen in time. Nestled in the heart of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) this tiny hamlet on the banks of the river Orwell has remained relatively unchanged for hundreds of years: a collection of cottages set against stunning shoreline and ancient forest all centred around the world famous 17th century Butt and Oyster pub. Enjoying the view and talking in the landscape with a walk through the fields and along the coast is one of the undisputed highlights of any trip to Pin Mill, but this special place has a whole lot more to offer than that…
We would recommend starting (or ending) a visit with a meal and swift pint at The Butt and Oyster. The pub keeps a superb selection of Adnams ales and has a really varied award-winning British menu. There are a lot of wonderful dishes on the specials board but it’s hard to go wrong with their locally caught and, frankly, absurdly large cod and chips… if you are feeling really brave then try their vegetarian friendly version where the fish is replaced by battered halloumi. The seating area outside is made for summer, with tables overlooking the splendid riverside view, but it can be extra special to take your pints over to the village green and sip the under the trees or whilst paddling in the ‘Grindle’ (that’s ‘stream’ to everyone else). The green often hosts local events so it is worth checking if anything is on before heading down; if favourites like the Pin Mill Barge Race are happening then this sleepy hamlet can get quite busy!
Nothing seems to inspire photographers like reed beds and sailing masts against that big Suffolk sky, so many make the pilgrimage to Pin Mill to get those special shots. Much of this talent is incubated by The Pin Mill Studio – just a few meters from the pub, the gallery hosts photography sessions and classes as well as displaying work by local artists. Several day classes include a meal at the Butt and Oyster so it really can be a brilliant way to enjoy the space and really fall in love with Pin Mill. If you fancy coffee and cake instead of beer and chips then the Sunshine Cafe is situated in the same building as the studios and the elevated outdoor seating gives a great view of the area.
The gorgeous walks really are the highlight of this beautiful place so bring your boots and get exploring. Walking maps are available from the pub but for a simple stroll turn left at the Butt and Oyster and keep walking until you reach the neighbouring village of Woolverstone. The route passes through forest, fields, styles and streams whilst following the gentle curb of the majestic the river Orwell.
If you are after something a little more ambitious then head down past the community of houseboats and follow the river towards Shotley. This village lies at the tip of the peninsular and is where the Orwell reaches the Sea, with Felixstowe to the left and Harwich to the right. Both can be reached via a 5 minute foot ferry; if you have time it is well worth the experience – we would recommend a trip over the water to The Alma pub in Harwich.
Pin Mill lies 30 minutes from from the award winning 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. If you fancy accommodation more befitting of Pin Mill’s riverside surroundings then we recommend ‘Onderneming’: a historic late 1800s sailing barge moored on the river Alde. Its location directly outside Snape Maltings is unparalleled and accommodation doesn’t come much more unique, proudly combing ‘luxury with an open, dog-friendly approach’. Alternatively the 18th century dutch sailing barge Twee Gebroeders is moored at the Tidemill on the river Deben. It sleeps up to 4 and flawlessly blends historic touches with 21st century comfort. Both are approximately 30 minutes from Pin Mill and offer a great base to explore the wider area.
[Image by Alex Healing on Flickr]
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.
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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
A 400-seater theatre in the heart of Ipswich, Suffolk’s county town
The New Wolsey Theatre was established in 2000, building on the foundations of the regional repertory company that had opened the theatre in the late 1970s
They have a varied programme right throughout the year from art, music of all kinds, theatre productions etc ending the year in panto. Oh yes they do!
Beautiful old Grade 1 listed Regency Theatre
Owned by the National Trust it’s one of the last surviving Regency playhouses. I’ve been to countless panto’s there but eventually my daughter decided she was too old and I no longer had an excuse!
A brilliant, year-round programme of drama, music, dance and light entertainment, featuring many of the country’s leading companies and performers. They have built a fabulous reputation producing their own productions including the ever popular annual pantomime that I mentioned
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!)
Little pub in the heart of quaint Debenham in the Suffolk countryside
More of a drinkers pub than a destination or restaurant but a friendly little place but certainly worthy of a pitstop when passing through
The original Suffolk Pop Up Restaurant right here at Woodfarm
Having hosted the first ever Pop Up Restaurants in Suffolk, we are now making it a regular event. The next one is 7th, 8th and 9th November 2014
Michelin Star trained Chef Mark Peters will be returning with a menu to knock our socks off again, all for just £55 per head for six courses. We have no accommodation available that weekend as it all sold out on the morning we announced the dates! We do still have dining space though if you are within reach. It’s worth the journey! Check out the details from the last event and see what some of our diners had to say on the weblink
A collection of independent businesses in little barns just around the corner from Woodfarm
There’s all sorts, from a ‘village shop’, garden centre, gift and craft shops, toy shop, a cracking owl sanctuary, an aquatics centre, a cafe/ restaurant and vintage furniture and clothes
There’s a craft and farmers market every second saturday of the month and also regular car boot sales
It’s also the home of the Mid-Suffolk Showground, with regular events
A fine gastro pub in mid Suffolk serving some excellent food
Taken over and re-furbed in 2013, it now has a really nice interior with very comfy surroundings
A great menu, whether it’s a snack or a full on dinner, they have some imaginative food ideas and I’ve always enjoyed it in there. It’s not cheap but then they are not trying to attract that market!
They have a Bar, lounge and a contemporary eaterie. Check their website for full food temptations