Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty anyone?

Last Updated on March 13, 2023

There are 46 designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK and we are lucky enough to have two of them right on our doorstep!

These Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty offer a wealth of opportunities for both people and wildlife to benefit from our countryside. And as vibrant, living landscapes, they underpin the economy and the health and wellbeing of our society.

So many Woodfarm guests visit the two that we have here and although I’ve written about them before I decided to visit both of them on Christmas Day and Boxing Day respectively in 2016. I wanted to bring you a few snaps that I took there and refresh your memories on the stunning landscape that we are so fortunate to have so close to our holiday cottages.

The two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty that we have are Suffolk Coast and Heaths and Dedham Vale.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Dunwich HeathSuffolk Coast & Heaths – Christmas Day 2016

As the name suggests, it’s on Suffolk’s beautiful Heritage Coast but there is an incredible variety of landscape, stretching from the Stour estuary (so good we named a Barn after it) in the South to Kessingland (we didn’t name a Barn after it) in the North, and covering 403 square kilometres. I didn’t cover all 403 km on Christmas Day!

There’s a real mix of marshland, shingle beaches, estuaries, cliffs, heaths, woods and farmland. Our visit this day took us to Dunwich Heath, which, as you can see from the photos taken from my trusty iPhone, is just stunning.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Suffolk Coast & heathsIt’s widely known as a source of inspiration to artists, writers and musicians and as a (very) amateur musician myself, I’ve written and recorded a song called ‘Above this silence’, which I wrote after a walk a couple of years previously on the beach at Walberswick, a particular favourite of mine. Ed Sheeran has just released a song about his hometown of Framlingham in Suffolk but I did it way before him! My guess though is that he’ll make more money from his! Framlingham is well worth a visit too as it’s only 20 mins away from Woodfarm but I seem to be digressing, back to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty!

We’ve got more info on Dog-Friendly beaches in Suffolk in a separate blog post.

Suffolk Coast & Heaths visitor activity, if our guest books in the cottages are anything to go by, are centred around the medieval market town of Aldeburgh and other coastal towns and hamlets such as Southwold and Orford. You can check out more info on this AONB.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - DedhamDedham Vale – Boxing Day 2016

A real favourite of mine for many, many years as I lived there prior to establishing Woodfarm Barns and still have my house there so I may well see out my old age (I’m nearly there) propping up the bar of The Sun Inn!

This pretty much meets the start of the other AONB as it meanders through the Stour Valley and has the River Stour running through it. My favourite pastime here is kayaking along the Stour; it’s very peaceful, even when shared with tourists in rowing boats, which is extremely popular with our guests.

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty - Dedham ValeThis AONB was made famous worldwide by most notably by Constable and Gainsborough and this is very evident when you visit.  The landscape is very much that of picturesque villages, rolling farmland, rivers, meadows, ancient woodlands and a wide variety of local wildlife.

There is a superb walk, with or without four-legged friends, from Dedham to Flatford, where you will see all the breathtaking sights I snapped here and you could even treat yourself to a cream tea at the National Trust tea room when you get there. Or, the aforementioned Sun Inn if you do the walk the other way. I don’t get to spend so much time in there now I don’t live there but it is well worth a visit. Fab food and drink and dog-friendly.

Much smaller than Suffolk Coast & Heaths, at just 90 square kilometres (again, I didn’t do all of it this Christmas) stretching from Manningtree to within one mile of Bures.

You can check out more info on this AONB.