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What to do in Pin Mill

Pin Mill Suffolk sunset

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]

Forever keen to wrap our favourite things up into easily digestible lists, here are a few of our top recommendations for things to do in Pin Mill. From simple to educational and active, this list aims to provide you with a host of things to look forward to when booking one of our Barns or Barges for rent in Suffolk.

  • Take a nice long walk

Though there are plenty of activities and things to see in Pin Mill, it’s good to keep in mind that this picturesque village is an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. With this in mind, simply taking a walk around the area to take in all of the sights and sounds will prove to be an incredibly enjoyable experience in and of itself. With several footpaths offering fantastic views across the river and surrounding countryside – not to mention all significant landmarks – we’re confident that you’ll fall under the charm of Pin Mill inside of the hour it takes to travel its distance by foot.

  • Stretch your sea legs

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the sights and surroundings of Pin Mill by foot, there’s few things more enjoyable than jumping into a boat to explore the area by water. With several rental companies within easy reach of the area, it couldn’t be easier to hit the water and discover why the River Orwell has inspired so many paintings and poems. There is, as they say, “nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”.  

  • Enjoy a picnic

Whilst Suffolk abounds with countless fun activities, it’s also one of the best places in the world to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. As life’s simple pleasures go, a picnic in a tranquil bay, set against the backdrop of a peaceful river is certainly one of the best of them. In Pin Mill, you’ll find that setting about this simple pleasure couldn’t be simpler.

  • Visit the Museum

Though Pin Mill may be small, it is certainly mighty. It’s therefore no surprise to learn that it has its very own museum which showcases all of the fascinating maritime history associated with its immediate surroundings and the River Orwell more generally. Wholly accessible and engaging, the exhibits focus on things like the fishing, shipbuilding industry and boatbuilding which have taken place over the years in this part of Suffolk. In short, when it comes to learning more about the history of Suffolk, there are few places quite so informative as the Pin Mill Museum.

  • Enjoy a (real) pint

Would we even be a travel blog worth its salt if we neglected to mention that the Butt and Oyster pub in Pin Mill serves up some of the finest real ales in Suffolk? Oh, we already did mention that as well as its impressive food choices earlier on this article? Oh well, better to be safe than sorry when it comes to shouting about the best places to eat and drink in Pin Mill.

Last Updated on April 25, 2023 by Ollie Pearson