We have a fantastic little book called ‘50 walks in Suffolk’ – It’s a perfect guide for visiting ramblers as there are some great country walks all within easy reach, many with pubs and local tourist attractions. This page covers a few ideas of places to go for a nice walk, which are all really popular with our guests. We have nature reserves, riverside and coastal walks on here
We have some very nearby, including a great one down past Crowfield Church, down our lane to Coddenham, which is about 3 miles away. It’s mostly fields along the way if you want to get off the lane (though it isn’t busy)
From Coddenham there is a beautiful, picturesque woodland walk at Broom Hill, which we have a blog post about here
There is a gorgeous meadow, wood and lake walk very near (4 miles away) Woodfarm on the edge of Debenham, called Hoppit Wood & Lake and Hoggs Kiss Meadow – Check out our blog post on it here
We are also lucky to have another fantastic lake just four miles away, which is Needham Lake. Another really popular walk with our guests. Have a look at the blog post here
Fox Fritillary Meadow – On the Suffolk Tourist route – About 10 mins away
The largest of only four remaining snake’s head fritillary sites in Suffolk, this reserve is an ancient floodplain meadow. Fritillaries thrive in land that periodically floods. In spring the emergence of the grass-like foliage is soon followed by displays of up to 300,000 nodding purple-chequered and white flower heads in mid-April to early May
Eighteen fritillary sites were known in Suffolk in 1889, but sadly most have been lost through drainage or ploughing. The fritillaries bloom alongside early meadow flowers such as cowslip and cuckoo flower.
The meadow is managed by an early summer hay cut followed by aftermath grazing.
The site gets its name from the Fox family who owned Boundary Farm between 1922 and 1976 and helped Suffolk Wildlife Trust buy the meadow.
Visiting the meadow is strictly by prior arrangement only. Please ensure you contact Suffolk Wildlife Trust (01473 890089) before you visit.
Dogs on leads welcome
Mickfield Meadow – 10 minutes away, Near Debenham
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.
The boundary hedges are maintained by the traditional method of coppicing. This involves periodically cutting sections to the ground, which encourages regrowth and creates a long-living, dense hedge that is great for wildlife. Dogs on leads welcome
“A fantastic ancient, semi-natural woodland with superb circular walks. During spring it’s worth getting here for the dawn chorus alone!”
Bonny Wood is an ancient coppice woodland and part of the Barking Tye woods which are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the quality of coppice wood habitats and in particular the ground flora. The best time to visit is from late April to late June when the coppiced areas are brimming with wood anemone, woodruff and herb-paris. Look out for orchids in the wood, you may find early-purple orchids, lesser twayblade, common spotted orchid and if you look carefully you may be lucky enough to spot a greater butterfly orchid.
Birds are plentiful with melodies from summer migrants such as blackcap and willow warbler mingling with the song of resident species. There are frequent sightings of hobby and at dusk, you may catch a glimpse of woodcock performing their mating display. Evidence of a healthy badger population is reflected by the number of setts. Again, dogs welcome on leads
There are also some expansive forest over by the coast at Rendlesham and Tunstall with a myriad of walks
There are also nature reserves at Minsmere and Dunwich, slightly further afield as detailed below
We are only half an hour or so from the beautiful heritage coast with such towns as Aldeburgh, Orford, Southwold, Thorpeness, Walberswick and Woodbridge all in easy reach. At least one of these is a must during your holiday here. We are so lucky to have one of the best stretches of coast in England half an hour away!
There are some beautiful places to visit and the best thing is these places like Orford, Mersea Island (Essex), Aldeburgh, Dunwich are all candyfloss and one-armed bandit free!
With its source in Laxfield (Great Pub there – The Low House!), Initially a stream, it becomes tidal and widens considerably when it reaches Snape. It meanders East past Aldeburgh (You must go there!) after which this part of the river was named. The river then becomes known as the River Ore as it approaches Orford where it once entered the sea; however, the mouth of the river has now been pushed some five miles further south as shingle has accumulated over hundreds of years after which it splits to form Havergate Island and is joined by its tributary, the Butley River, before reaching the sea at Shingle Street
The lower reaches of the river passes through marshland and shingle or sand beaches. The shingle spit that blocks the river, Orford Ness is now some 10 miles in length and is owned by the National Trust. The main area through which the River Alde flows is open countryside in private ownership, much of it arable farmland.
The tidal reaches (below Snape Bridge) are within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area of outstanding natural beauty, as well as being a Site of special scientific interest, a designated Special area of conservation and a Special Protection Area. An RSPB reserve, Boyton Marshes, is situated between the River Ore and the Butley River. A registered charity, the Alde & Ore Association, exists to “preserve and protect for the public benefit the Alde, Ore and Butley Creek rivers and their banks from Shingle Street to their tidal limits”.
During Tudor times, the river served as a port from which four ships were launched to fight against the Spanish Armada]. The river no longer serves as a port but as an area for yacht club members to gather to sail
The River Deben is a tidal estuary in Suffolk, flowing through largely unspoilt countryside for nearly 25 miles from its source near Debenham (Yes, it is where the department store got its name from) to the North Sea at Felixstowe Ferry. The Deben is tidal for about 13 miles, from Bromeswell, just upstream from Woodbridge
Have a look at River Deben.org here for more info and to find out about the work they do
The River Gipping Trust is preserving the historic heritage of the Stowmarket Navigation by restoring the structures that enabled navigation of the River Gipping from the docks in Ipswich to Stowmarket and caring for the flora and fauna of The Gipping Valley. Go to The River Gipping Trust website for lots more info Charles Dickens is known to have visited the area and written about fishing on the Orwell and Gipping Rivers. We have details of the Gipping Walks for you to use and enjoy in all the cottages
Its source river, above the tidal limit at Stoke Bridge, is the Gipping and it broadens into an estuary at Ipswich where the Ipswich Docks have operated since the 7th century and then flows into the North Sea at Felixstowe after joining with the River Stour at Shotley
Daniel Defoe refers to the Orwell and the Stour in his tour through England and Wales and indeed the writer Eric Blair chose the name by which we all know him, George Orwell because of his love for the river
There is some excellent sailing to be had on the Orwell at Levington, Woolverstone and Pin Mill. For a great day out have a look at Orwell River Cruises website here…
One of the best places around here to get on the water is on the River Stour at Dedham. It’s only 25 minutes away from Woodfarm Barns and you can either hire a little rowing boat and go crashing into the banks or take it easy on a little motorised boat, which won’t crash into the banks. Equally, You can simply walk this whole stretch of the river and it is stunning, so well worth a look.
A great holiday favourite with our guests and an absolute must is Minsmere; you go to Dunwich where you can pick up the best Fish & Chips there right on the beach, maybe buy some fresh fish from the fishermen’s huts and then drive 10 minutes down the coast to Minsmere ‘Lookout point’ which is owned by the National Trust and has a Gastro cafe at the lookout tower – amazingly good value and great food which they cook all themselves.
So… this is the lovely Minsmere, where you can see the most unusual bird in the sanctuary or just enjoy the wonderful walks where the heathland stretches down to the beach and back around the marshes through the woodland paths – even a great foodie pub on the way at Eastbridge – a day you will enjoy and remember forever.
Dunwich is just to the North about 5 miles, this beach runs for about 20 miles and lots of it has heath-land running straight down onto it. Minsmere ‘Lookout point’ is on this headland, there’s a lovely cafe and a National Trust car park.
Minsmere is a lovely day out, bags of fresh air, a romantic wildness, nature all around you and treasures at your feet.
To walk on the heath, the old ruins and beaches at Minsmere is great and if you like Nature reserves there is a very good wetlands one there.
You could take in Walberswick and then walk to Southwold as well. Try to pop into the Low House pub at Laxfield on your way back. It is well worth the visit; it has won the regions Pub of the Year by CAMRA (Real Ale organisation) and is a charming old fashioned pub with no bar – just a taproom where you pick up a jug of ale to take back to the big wooden settle in front of the open fire.
A trip to Aldeburgh is interesting and the seaside village is a cultural centre with lots of activities to offer there and at Snape Malting’s just round the corner. Thorpeness is also worth a visit.
You can also visit the old Viking burial grounds on the heathland at Sutton Hoo which is in the neighbourhood. The finds at this famous Viking location have been considered so important that they are now housed in a brand new extensive exhibition hall at the site.
The pretty town of Woodbridge is also in this neck of the woods and here you can visit the picturesque quay and the unique ‘Tide Mills’.
Pin Mill harbour on the Orwell Estuary is very pretty and has a great pub called the Butt & Oyster with good food and lovely walks.
The Butley Oysterage at Orford is really great, it has a lovely selection of local oysters, crabs, lobsters and fish all completely fresh plus a great smokery and wonderful quirky restaurant/cafe where you can just as easily wash down your oysters and brown bread with a cup of builders best tea or a bottle of Dom Perignon, all very unpretentious and very good value.
Orford has an imposing castle, a couple of excellent Gastro pubs and is a pretty tiny harbour village at the end of the world where you can get ferry trips over to the mysterious MOD Pagodas on the Massive Orford Ness Nature Reserve opposite.
Here is a quick rundown of the nicest local beaches near Woodfarm Barns, all of which are worth a visit;
Bawdsey – A pretty resort with a small sandy beach and boat jetty, quiet.
Shingle Street – A quiet resort with a mainly shingle (surprise!) beach, it has a desolate but magical quality and is designated as a place of special scientific interest because of the rare plants and flowers that survive in this wind-swept beach. The wild activity of the river Ore meeting the sea will keep you fascinated for hours.
Aldeburgh – 35 mins away
Visited by absolutely everybody during the summer, the beach is long and shingly with sandy areas at low tide; it is still very much a fishing town with a large marina ending in a massive Martello Tower. There are a number of excellent pubs and a couple of outstanding restaurants plus a lovely walk past the salt marshes along the coast to Thorpeness. Aldeburgh is a great centre for the arts and the famous Snape Maltings is just on the inland side of the natural harbour
Thorpeness – 35 mins away
Perhaps one of the most picturesque resorts of them all with its pretty clapboard houses overlooking the sea. Thorpeness has a sheltered beach and is in its own time capsule!
Dunwich Heath 40 mins – See above – a mass of heathland that stretches down to the sea, wonderful trails and woodland with hidden valleys and rivers
Walberswick 40 mins
A quaint village on the other side of the river from Southwold harbour, you can get someone to row you across the river for a few pence to the old working harbour where you can get local fish and smoked fish straight from the fishermen. There is a lovely sandy beach across the dunes and the kids will love the local sport of ‘crabbing’ here – just bring a length of string and some bacon as bait, drop it into the harbour or off the tiny footbridges and 20 crabs will immediately grab on – the trick is to see how many hang on until you have them up and over your bucket 100 is a pretty usual score! – The village is really lovely with a good pub and an unspoilt fell about it – kids; make your parents take you here!
Southwold – 40 mins away
This is a pretty, busy seaside town; it has lots of stunning houses and an old centre with many interesting shops including one just selling local amber. There are a couple of great ‘old-style hotels where you can take tea or drink in real style and a few antique shops to nose around in. At one end of the town is the beach hut & pier attraction and at the other there is the grand house quaint harbour. A town of many variations. Have a look into the old Seaman’s missions reading room – it’s free and is filled with many odd museum pieces, living and dead! Maybe you will find some amber treasure on the beach yourself.
Manningtree – 30 mins away
Into Essex again, the picturesque villages of Manningtree and Mistley are at the mouth of the River Stour, along which you will pass by all of John Constables famous locations like Willy Lotts cottage and The Haywain. This is also the start of a number of great long-distance walks up the coast or along the River Stour.
Mersea Island (45 mins away, the other side of Colchester) –
Famous for The Mersea Island Pirates and Nature Reserves and the great ‘Company Shed’. Back to Essex, this is a lovely place and again at the end of the world, only accessible at low tide. At first is seems a bit normal, but check out the wonderful salt sea marshes with their eerie bird calls and the seals and wildlife that abound there and see the most amazing sunrises and sunsets. Visit the excellent Nature reserve at Cudmore Grove which stretches down to the sea; there are wonderful walks along the marshes edge or beside the cliffs and as you get to the other end of the small island past the tiny breweries, vineyards and gastro pubs you come into the fishing harbour area where oystermen bring the famous Blackwater oysters. At the very end of the harbour you come into a jumble of boats being repaired and right in the middle of them is the renowned ‘Company Shed’ – yes it is a shed and you have to buy your booze and bread and butter from the local village stores (excellent choice of white wine strangely enough) but this shed has been written up glowingly in just about every national newspaper and Good Food Magazine, talk about out of the sea and onto the plate – this is what it is all about!
There are lots of walks to keep you fit and healthy whilst you are staying here, many of which are on ‘Where Do We?…’ – our guide to everything Suffolk www.wheredowe.co.uk