Thorpeness is a fairytale inspired holiday village that was dreamt up and created by the Ogilvie family in the early 1900’s. In the heart of the village is a Peter Pan themed boating lake, plus several places to eat and an emporium.
Suffolk is a beautiful and historic county, steeped in quintessentially English countryside, picturesque villages and sleepy coastal towns. It is only natural to want to see the whole thing but at nearly 4000km2, exploring it can be a slightly daunting prospect. If you are planning on getting around by car then thankfully there is a road that cuts through the heart of this county, passing some of its most loved landmarks and letting you drink it all in via a whole host of ancient paths, medieval churches and award winning restaurants: the A1120.
This route is often referred to as the ‘tourist trail’. It starts in historic Stowmarket, a small market town centred around the River Gipping. For a slice of Suffolk history head to the Museum of East Anglian Life, situated in the country manor of Abbots Hall. It specialises in presenting past agricultural traditions of East Anglia through a mixture of exhibits and living history demonstrations.
If you are staying in the area for the evening and fancy some entertainment then the John Peel Centre is a fantastic performing arts venue. Built to honour the late BBC presenter and music enthusiast who resided near Stowmarket, this centre puts of some world class events that really punch above the weight of this small Suffolk town: expect rock, folk, poetry and everything in between.
Continue down the A1120 and you will reach Stonham Aspal and the wonderful Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, which “operates a comprehensive facility for the care & rehabilitation of owls from the region, and the promotion of owl conservation throughout the UK and beyond”. Get up close and personal with 80 different owls (there is even the opportunity to get your photo taken holding one); a great place to spend the afternoon learning about one of Suffolk’s best loved birds. Anyone planning to spend time nearby should make a reservation at Woodfarm Barns. They offer six Suffolk barns that all sleep two and a gorgeous 500 year-old thatched Farmhouse that sleeps 7. After a long day enjoying some splendid walking with a four legged friend it is good to know that it is totally dog friendly; a great place to put up your weary feet (and paws!).
After passing further along the tourist trail through the quaint villages of Pettaugh, Earl Soham, Saxtead and Dennington you will reach Badingham. We recommend stopping here for a pint or a meal at the gorgeous White Horse. This 15th century coaching inn boasts cosy open fires, great ale selection and-home cooked food; it’s a welcome little resting point for any traveller. As you continue on through Peasenhall watch out for the peacocks that roam the village in full plume throughout the year: it is a startling and eccentrically Suffolk sight. If you still need a little pick me up then Weavers Tea Room in the centre of the village offers everything from breakfast to afternoon tea. The coffee is great, the cake is excellent and it is worth a visit just to immerse yourself in the beautiful 15th century building. The trail ends in historic Yoxford, nestled between the postcard beauty of seaside towns Southwold and Aldeburgh. Check out one of the villages many antique shops before heading on to explore the rest of Suffolk and beyond.
A great Suffolk adventure needs a great Suffolk base. Woodfarm Barns and Woodfarm Barges offer just that. This collection of beautiful barns, farmhouse and barges offer romantic breaks and the perfect place for families or friends in the farmhouse or large barge. And best of all they are totally dog friendly. You can find Woodfarm Barns just a few minutes from the A1120 tourist trail, and the barges at the end!
Britain is a land of diverse wonders and breathtaking beauty. We are lucky to have a lot packed into to our small island nation; a landscape of rolling hills, lush forests and mountain peaks sit on this little lump of land surrounded by the Atlantic ocean. The variety on offer is reason enough for so many holiday makers choose to Britain as the destination for their getaways, and whilst there are an infinite amount of attractions on offer in metropolises like London or Edinburgh it is the small town charm and rural beauty of Suffolk that means this county is one of England’s hidden gems.
There are a hundreds of reasons to holiday in Suffolk, here are a few good places to start…
Lets begin with a big one: the Suffolk coast. Nearly anywhere in Suffolk you are only a 30 minute drive away at the most, from the sea. Our stretch really is an ancient pebbled wonder, a scattering of history and culture spanning from Felixstowe to Orford and beyond.
Anyone new to Suffolk should take a visit to the picturesque coastal town of Southwold. Amongst many other attractions Southwold is home to world famous the Adnams brewery, whose signature bitter is named after the town itself.
Further down the road is the equally pleasant town of Aldeburgh. This ancient fishing community quite rightly boasts “the best fish and chip shop” in England (Ed Sheeran’s words, not mine). Tasting really is believing.
I miss aldeburgh fish and chips
— Ed Sheeran (@edsheeran) April 24, 2015
Anyone wanting to explore the landscape on foot can find a whole host of breathtaking trails right down the coast; considering the majority of the coastline is a National Trust area of outstanding natural beauty it is actually one of the best free activities out there.
It may be a rural county but that doesn’t mean that Suffolk doesn’t punch well above its weight with regards to art and culture.
For a step back in time head to Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich. Many of the original features of this exquisite grade 1 listed Tudor building house are painstakingly maintained, yet it is the incredible art collection that makes this a standout attraction: there are works from everyone from Picasso to Rodin as well as the biggest collection of Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable paintings outside of London.
Music is a big part of Suffolk life; for an eclectic mix of critically acclaimed classical artists check out the Aldeburgh Festival, with its Benjamin Britten roots, or if you want something a bit more contemporary, then one of the crown jewels in the UK’s festival scene is Latitude Festival; an award winning family focused event whose 2019 headliners include Snow Patrol and Lana Del Rey.
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A walk in the woods
Suffolk has an incredible array of landscapes to explore on foot. You could do worse than take a trip to the tiny hamlet of Pin Mill on the banks of the majestic river Orwell; we recommend lunch at the famous Butt and Oyster pub before walking along the breathtaking river path to Shotley, where you can catch a foot ferry across the water to either Harwich or Felixstowe.
Further inland, the Ixworth Circular Walk is one of the county’s best routes to explore Suffolk’s rich cultural legacy, as medieval churches and houses nestle into the gorgeous surrounding woodland and farmland.
Thornham Walks near Woodfarm Barns is also a fabulous way to unwind and enjoy a few hours under a canopy of trees.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Suffolk truly is a foodies heaven: so many fantastic establishments offering local produce cooked in an astounding amount of styles.
If you want to take your tastebuds on a journey far away from Suffolk then The Royal Bengal in Woodbridge is considered one of the best curry houses in the UK; generous portions and a great mix of traditional and modern dishes. And it’s a five minute walk from our Barge Twee Gebroeders!
Vegetarians and vegans are catered for by The Walnut Tree in Thwaite. This truly unique restaurant is a Suffolk institution, serving pub/bistro style dishes that are all totally vegetarian and vegan. We recommend the roasted mushroom wellington… it really is incredible. And just in case you are concerned, we’ve had several ‘Team Woodfarm’ outings here, with the carnivores being really impressed and fulfilled!
So there you have it, we barely scratched the surface of what a holiday in Suffolk can offer. A beautiful region filled with friendly welcoming people, this really is one of the best places to holiday in the UK. Don’t take our word for it: with so many hidden gems dotted across across this ancient rural landscape you really must pay us a visit and decide for yourself.
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
We are very fortunate to have not one but two of Englands 33 AONB’s right on our doorstep
The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley sits on the Suffolk/ Essex border. The gentle River Stour (so good we named a barn after it) and its hedged water meadows, copses and riverbank willows, form a landscape, widely thought to represent the best of the farmed English countryside
Lots of rambling meadows, rolling fields and abundant open marshland, many of which are recognised the world over as ‘Constable Country’ with nearby Flatford and Dedham, arguably being the jewel in the crown of this beautiful area
The designated area goes from Manningtree, through the aforementioned, to Bures
Mickfield Meadow is a stunning flower-rich hay meadow that has never been sprayed or fertilised. As a result it contains a host of wildflowers, many of which are now scarce in Suffolk. To maintain this rich flora, the meadow is managed by a summer hay cut and then grazing the late summer growth.
The unusual mix of plants growing here adds to its botanical interest. In parts of the meadow you can see goldilocks buttercup and the low growing wood anemone – both plants more usually associated with ancient woodlands. In the wetter parts look for marshland flowers like ragged-robin, meadowsweet and the beautiful snake’s head fritillary – one of only four sites in Suffolk where it can still be found
Dogs on leads welcome
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
Ok, it’s just over the border in Norfolk but only just!
Music, Dance, Comedy, Theatre, Spoken word, Cinema, Community events, Workshops, Exhibitions, Art and a museum!
The box office is located in The Old Stables beside the Corn Hall. Check out their website for full programme of events