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Snape Maltings & Aldeburgh – a Grand Day Out

Snape Maltings from across the River Alde

I’ve written about Aldeburgh before but not sure if I’ve ever put pen to paper (finger to keyboard) for you about Snape Maltings, so after a lovely day out this week with my daughter, I thought it was high time I did!

Snape Maltings on the River AldeFor the uninitiated, Snape Maltings has nothing to do with a certain Professor from Hogwarts. Snape is tiny little village near the Suffolk coast, that happens in years gone by to have had a series of huge maltings buildings from which it had a thriving industry. Malt to be precise. But since I’ve been going there over the last 20 years or so, it has completely transformed itself into an equally thriving centre for Music, Art, Shopping, Food, Nature and Living as there are some amazing apartments in there now too!

Snape Maltings is the home of Aldeburgh Music, known across the world, hosting an array of concerts featuring international artists, predominantly in the fields of Classical and Jazz.

Snape Maltings Homewares shoppingShopping is one of the big things that it is known for. There is a humungous old maltings crammed full of high quality (pretty pricey) homewares, gifts and garden things. The building itself is a joy to shop in; much better than a department store. I’ve bought quite a lot of the soft furnishings and kitchenware for Woodfarm from Snape Maltings. There’s a great little coffee shop upstairs serving cakes and lunches etc.

There’s an antiques centre as well, with some real quirky finds, quite a number of which again, have made it back to Woodfarm. I did pay for them I might add!

The Plough & Sail at Snape MaltingsSnape Maltings even has its own pub, The Plough & Sail, which serves the obligatory local Adnams, as well as superb range of other beers and wines and had a fabulous menu. Today I had Thai Green Mussels, which were amazing!

And all this right on the river. The Rive Alde to be precise, where Aldeburgh get s its name from, as well as one of our cottages, Alde Barn. Looking across the river you can see acres and acres of rushes and there’s a fabulous walk right through the middle of the whole lot into the village where there are two more pubs!

Snape Maltings Grand Day Out - Aldeburgh beachSnape Maltings is then just 4 miles to the beautiful Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh, famed for its Fish & Chips, as well as some excellent boutique shops, restaurants and of course the world famous Scallop sculpture by Maggie Hambling.

It’s a breathtaking work of art in my humble opinion.

Snape Maltings and Aldeburgh grand day outThe High Street is full of fabulous clothes and gift shops, as well as being abundant with coffee shops, delis, restaurants etc, so well worth a visit. And it runs parallel with the beach, which sits just behind it, so you can combine everything.

There are a couple of great smokehouses on the beach too, selling very fresh fish. One has a sign on it saying “If its any fresher, its still swimming”!

So Snape Maltings and Aldeburgh is another of our Grand Days Out and it’ll be a fabulous, and possibly wallet-bashing one, but well worth it! If you’d like to plan this into your next break, check our Availability and get yourself booked in. As I write this in the beginning of March, this year is very heavily booked already so why not book a Woodfarm Summer break whilst you still can!

Snape Maltings Grand Day Out

Here’s one of my favourite pics from this day out. Me and my daughter Lauren, by Maggie Hambling’s Scallop. I don’t mean the Scallop took the picture, I mean we’re standing next to it!

 

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Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty anyone?

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 respectively in 2016 so 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 here

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 here

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 manders 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 geet to spned 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 here

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Suffolk Villages and Towns – Long Melford

Long Melford

History, art, culture and nature. Long Melford has it all and more…

Long Melford is a fantastic large village, a short drive from us here at Woodfarm Barns. It is undisputedly one of the most stunning villages in Suffolk. Maybe in the whole of the UK too! In a nationwide poll by Savills, the estate agent, Long Melford came 7th in the most desirable villages in Britain.

It’s little surprise then that Francis Bacon was a frequent visitor to Long Melford in the 1700s. Making many journeys to Westgate House. Which at the time was owned by David Edwards who was the brother of The shops of Long MelfordBacon’s lover. No doubt the rural setting provided much needed escape for Beacon from the many pressure of life in London.

I’m pleased to say that Long Melford still provides many people with the same kind of escape today.

The village is well worth visiting for the many pubs, restaurants, art galleries and local shops on the main street alone.

However, here are some of the other reasons so many people choose to make Long Melford a part of their visit to Suffolk:

Melford Hall, the home of the Hyde Parker family now belongs to the National Trust and has been made open to the public. There are many wonderful events hosted at the hall every year including the annual Beatrix Potter Fun Day in July. Full opening times are available on the National Trust website. And also the Leestock Music Festival which we are proud to have worked with for many years now

Another magnificent hall. just over the road is Kentwell; a moated Tudor mansion which hosts yearly reenactments of everyday life in Tudor times. Up to 200 people descend on Kentwell for these events. They work hard to act and dress as authentically Tudor as possible. Bringing the period back to life in Long Melford.

If you’re visit to Suffolk doesn’t coincide with the re-enactments then there’s still plenty to see at Kentwell including beautiful gardens and buildings and an open air theatre. The theatre is used for plays and concerts during the summer season.

Do you only have a short time to spend in Long Melford? Then the Heritage Centre is the place for you. Run by local volunteers with a The entrance to The Long Melford Heritage Centrepassion for sharing local history. The centre is an ideal place to get a taste of local culture.

Planning a visit to Suffolk to enjoy some of the finest villages in Britain? Then why not treat yourself and stay with us? You can check our availability here: 

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Suffolk Villages & Towns – Bury St Edmunds

A panoramic view of the stunning Abbey ruins at Bury St Edmunds

Bury St Edmunds is a resplendent town. Full of rich, deep history sitting alongside all the buzz of a vibrant modern town.

Bury St Edmunds certainly lives up to its namesake. Just as Edmund was a king of East Anglia, similarly the town that takes his name is often considered first among the towns of Suffolk.

In medieval times Bury St Edmunds was home to one of the most prominent monasteries in the whole of Europe. The impressive ruins of the Benedictine Abbey now form the centre piece of the stunning Abbey Gardens.

Picturesque Abbey Gardens in Bury St EdmundsSituated just a short walk from the town centre, the Abbey Gardens are much loved, and are visited by locals and tourists alike. Well worth a walk around. They are also an excellent place to have a picnic.

There genuinely is so much history in Bury St Edmunds that we can’t even begin to  write about it all here in a short blog post. However a fantastic place to start exploring the heritage of the area is the Moyse’s Hall Museum.

Moyse’s Hall Museum is situated smack bang in the centre of the town in a lovely example of a medieval building. Suffolk Towns and Villages -Bury St Edmunds

It plays host to an eclectic selection of collections and exhibitions, as well as events such as themed craft workshops for all ages and historical talks and lectures.

As well as containing all that history, the town also has all the wonderful shops, cafes, bars and pubs one would expect from a large and lively modern English town.

And if it’s culture you’re looking for then Bury St Edmunds has stacks of that too. The town has many wonderful venues of all sizes. Two of which are the Apex and The Theatre Royal.

The Apex in Bury St EdmundsThe Apex is a superbly designed modern concert hall that fully deserves it’s status as a prominent venue hosting some of the top acts from around the world.

The Theatre Royal is the last surviving Regency playhouse. It is in the hands of the National Trust (the only Theatre in their portfolio) and is well worth a visit for the architecture alone. Not to mention all the great shows they put on! Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds

If you’re interested in experiencing all that Suffolk has to offer, including Bury St Edmunds, whilst enjoying a luxury cottage break. You can check our availability here:

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Suffolk Villages and Towns – Needham Market

The Needham Market village sign

Another beautiful Suffolk village within easy distance of Woodfarm Barns is the lovely little village of Needham Market.

A peek down a street in Needham Market One of the things that makes Suffolk such a popular tourist destination for those seeking a quintessential English rural break are the hidden gems like Needham Market.

Whilst larger settlements like Southwold, Bury St Edmunds and Woodbridge take the lion’s share of attention from holidaymakers there are some fantastic small villages which are equally unique and worthy of a visit.

Many of our guests take great pleasure in seeking out these hidden treasures and uncovering all they have to offer. 

A great place to start ‘digging’ for such holiday gold is the small village of Needham Market.

Set on the river Gipping, Needham Market is a fascinating place. 

The whole High Street has been designated as a Conservation Area.

Whilst the street may appear at first glance to be a normal village thoroughfare, there are many hidden marvels to be discovered. 

The extraordinary double hammer beam roof in St John The Baptist church in Needham Market

Anyone interested in medieval architecture will be in awe of the roof inside St John the Baptist Church on the High Street. Looking up from inside the roof appears impossible at first glance. Through extraordinary craftsmanship the entire roof was constructed using the double hammer beam method. Meaning that it resembles the inside of an upturned boat. A sight that has to be seen to be believed.

If that weren’t reason enough to spend a proportion of you Suffolk holiday in Needham Market the village has more to offer.

A view across the river to Hawks Mill in Needham MarketThe Ancient House on Hawks Mill Street, for example, was build in 1480 and has been lovingly restored. A short walk further down Hawks Mill Street Street and you’ll come across the mill from which the street derives its name. 

There has been a mill on this site since the times of the Doomsday Book and the current building dates from 1887. The mill has now been converted into residential flats.

If all that exploring makes you thirsty then there are several pubs in the village including The Limes Hotel and The Swan Inn.

Needham Lake, a former clay pit, provides leisure facilities and a wilThe lake at Needham Market on a beautiful winter's morning dlife habitat. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon stroll.

Are you looking to explore the hidden treasures of Suffolk, like Needham Market? Then why not stay in a luxury holiday cottage as you do so?

You can check our availability here:

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Suffolk Villages and Towns – Clare

The village sign at Clare on a sunny day

The Suffolk village of Clare possesses a timeless quality, existing as a beautiful modern settlement yet still possessing many echoes of bygone eras.

Along with all the pubs, shops and cafes one would expect from a village, Clare has many unique features which make it a very popular destination among the many people who spend their holidays with us here at Woodfarm Barns.

Here are just a few of them:

The spiral walk leading to Clare Castle KeepThe ruin of Clare Castle’s stone Keep is the centrepiece of Clare Castle Country Park. The Castle was build by Richard Fitzgilbert, the cousin of William the Conqueror, who was given the Manor of Clare after the Battle of Hastings in 1066.

The castle was built to protect the surrounding land. A great view of that land can be had by following the spiral patch around the motte leading to the ruins of the castle’s keep. Pargeting county museum Clare

History buffs in the village for the castle would do well to pay a visit to the Ancient House Museum too. It is very fitting that one of the oldest houses in Suffolk was converted into a museum in 1979.

The museum illustrates the history of Clare for its visitors and offers them records documenting the histories of  houses and families in the village from as far back as 1550.

For those who enjoy the natural landscapes there’s Clare Common, the former site of the Manor of Erbury, and an easy three and a half mile circular walk taking in much of the stunning countryside.

The River Stour in ClareAs well as those attractions there’s an excellent opportunity to visit a woodland in its early stages of development.

At Clare Nuttery you can get first hand experience of the birth of a woodland. Hundreds of young trees have been planted over the last five years, along with boundary hedges and a large pond. A walk near the village of Clare

We think that you can’t go wrong with a visit to Suffolk.

If you’d like to stay in one of our luxury cottages then you can check our availability here:

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Suffolk Villages & Towns – Debenham

The Debenham Village Sign

Debenham: a hidden haven of peace and tranquility right in the very heart of Suffolk.

A view down Debenham High StreetWhen researching for this blog, the word I came across again and again when people were describing Debenham was ‘peaceful’.

Situated right in the very heart of Suffolk, Debenham is a large and unspoilt traditional English village.

The name ‘Debenham’ is derived from Old English and means ‘the village in a deep valley’

In many ways the village represents the embodiment of rural East Anglia, with it’s traditional architecture, and its welcoming people.

There are thought to have been people settled in the area since Roman and early English times. The village itself is recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 as one of the most highly populated villages in the area. A brightly decorated telephone box in Debenham

Its position in the heart of Suffolk has often been more than just geographical, for example the old East Anglian Kings are said to have held court here occasionally. Putting Debenham right in the political centre of Suffolk as well.

The village was once a booming centre of the wool trade and the legacy of this time can still be felt.

As it is a large village, Debenham has many of the facilities of modern life. Whilst at the same time it maintains its unspoilt atmosphere. There are plenty of local pubs, cafes and shops to enjoy.

A row of traditional houses in DebenhamSt Mary Magdalene church is well worth a visit if churches are your kind of thing.

There is also an excellent Leisure Centre in Debenham offering a wide rage of sports, fitness and dance activities. There’s even a sauna. You don’t get one of those in every Suffolk village!

So if you’re looking for a taste of real real Suffolk life then a visit to Debenham is strongly recommended.

This hidden haven of peace and tranquility in the very heart of Suffolk could be just the right kind of ‘detox’ from all the demands of modern life. A view down Debenham high street towards the church

Fancy a visit to Suffolk? Why not stay in one of our luxury barns?

You can check our availability here:

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Suffolk Villages & Towns – Aldeburgh

A long view of Aldeburgh Seafront

Aldeburgh, a seaside town that embodies the quintessential English coastal holiday. With Fish and Chips so good they’re endorsed by Ed Sheeran!

As part of our series of blogs about some of the wonderful Suffolk Villages and Towns near us, we’ll be taking a closer look at Aldeburgh.

People come to Suffolk for a reason. It’s full of fantastic towns and villages with a unique Suffolk spin on English rural life.

This is one of the reasons why we’re fortunate enough to get so many return visitors here at Woodfarm Barns. There’s just so many places to explore near by!

One of the most popular destinations for our guests is the stunning Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh.

If you’re looking for a quintessential English seaside experience but without the amusement arcades etc then Aldeburgh is the place for you.

The Red House Aldeburgh, Once home to Benjamin Britten.Although the town does get very busy during the peak season, it is still a haven of a slower pace of seaside life.

Even one of Suffolk’s most famous global exports, Ed Sheeran, endorsed the town when he declared on Twitter that he missed the wonderful Fish and Chips produced in Aldeburgh.

Aldeburgh has it all: Beautiful beaches, locally owned and managed shops, all toped off by a stunning array of culture:

-There’s a fantastic museum showcasing more than 200 years of fascinating local history.

-or The Red House where the iconic Suffolk composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, singer Peter Pears, once lived and worked.The front of Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh

-And my personal favourite, The Snape Maltings, where we have enjoyed much delicious food and fabulous music over the years. Very highly recommended.

For more information on what to do when you’re in Aldeburgh you can visit the town’s official tourist page here:  for their ‘top ten’ things to do.

If you’re looking for a cosy luxury holiday cottage for your visit to Aldeburgh then Woodfarm Barns is the place for you. You can check our availability here: 

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Suffolk Villages & Towns – Woodbridge

A view of market hill in Woodbridge

We continue our look at some of the best villages and towns in Suffolk by casting our eye over to Woodbridge.

Woodbridge is a truly beautiful jewel in the crown of rural Suffolk. This superb and historic market town is well worth a visit.

The town is just a short drive from us here at Woodfarm Barns and it is a firm favourite of our guests and staff alike.

It’s one of those wonderful small English towns that has managed to remain almost completely unspoilt by the ravishes of modern times.

Whist it of course has modern supermarkets etc it is still mostly occupied by real local businesses and stunning historical architecture. A view across the River Deben to Tide Mill with boats

When you shop in Woodbridge you know that you are not only getting lovingly produced local products from local people but that you are also helping to keep a local economy thriving.

Quite apart form the fact that Woodbridge is just down the road from Sutton Hoo (one of the most important historical sites in the world. Which we’ve written about in previous blogs) the town itself is practically bursting at the seems with history.

A great place to start exploring some if this rich history is the Woodbridge Museum. This museum is run by local volunteers who really care about the history of the town and have a genuine passion for sharing about it. The entrance to Woodbridge Museum

Then why not pay a visit toThe Tide Mill Living Museum? The river Deben has many wonderful sights, both natural and man made. One of the best is The Tide Mill. This mill was one of the first tide mills in the country and has operated for over 800 years! It is the last working tide mill in England. A real piece of living history.

Looking to visit Suffolk and experience some of these special places for yourself? Why not stay with us in a luxury cottage? You can check our availability here: 

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Orford- Suffolk Villages & towns

The view from Orford Castle

Orford’s nature, history and food makes it a must visit coastal Suffolk town.

Orford has so much to explore in such a small place.

Have you ever noticed that the kinds of people who really enjoy learning about history and exploring historical places are often the same types of people who enjoy long walks in the countryside and experiencing the wonders of nature? Or is that just me?

Orford photo - The northern tip of Havergate Island in the sunshine
photo of Orford

Anyway, people who enjoy both history and nature will adore Orford. The fact that it has some wonderful places to eat too makes it a dream location for many of our guests here at Woodfarm Barns.

Orford Castle, a stunning medieval Castle
Photo of Orford Castle

Orford has nature lovers well provided for, especially bird watchers. Havergate Island is an RSPB nature reserve and is only a short boat ride from the town itself. This small island on the river Ore is home to large numbers of ducks and wading birds during the autumn and winter months. But is is the breeding Avocets and Terns, who make the island home during the spring and summer, that the island it truly famous for.

History enthusiasts are equally well catered for in Orford. Orford Castle has been wonderfully preserved and is a stunning sight to behold. It was built by Henry II and was one of the most important castles in all of medieval England. If you make it all the way to the top, the castle also offers beautiful views towards the coast and Orford Ness.

All that nature and history can make you hungry. Orford has some great places to eat, but one that must be experienced is Pump Street Bakery.

It’s not every bakery in Suffolk that get mentioned in an Oscar acceptance speech! But this happened to Pump Street Bakery in 2015 when the director Mat Kirkby won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short and credited his success to the rhubarb doughnuts. Extraordinary.

For those of us who enjoy a good walk there’s loads of them to be had around Orford. Including some that take in the Castle, Pump Street Bakery and the Quay all in one walk! For a itinerary and more information you can visit the town’s website here: 

Fancy taking in the sights and sounds of Orford? Want to stay in a luxury holiday cottage for your visit to Suffolk? Then you can check our availability here: