RAW SUFFOLK: 6 Reasons you Should Visit Suffolk this Winter

Suffolk may not be at the forefront of your mind when it comes to places to head for a winter getaway, but with market towns boasting independent boutiques, coastal resorts with award-winning beaches, unique experiences, gastronomic delights, luxury hotels and cottages and outdoor adventures a ’plenty, these 6 reasons will help you discover why Suffolk should be on your ‘must-visit’ places to go in 2018.

 1. For coastal walks and country pubs

With roaring fires and oak beams, The Oyster Inn at Butley is ideally situated for a pub lunch after a woodland walk through Rendlesham Forest or early morning cycle ride along the River Deben. The village pub is over 400 years old and last year re-opened after refurbishment with the garden barns now housing a micro-brewery and cinema!

After a stroll through the historic town of Bury St Edmunds (once the capital of England), check out the 15th Century Fox Inn. The pub serves hearty pub grub and boasts a gin menu including Green’s Lane; an exclusive gin from Bury St Edmund’s own brewery Greene King amongst others.

Situated in the heart of the Suffolk countryside, The Ufford Crown is a Michelin recommended pub and restaurant with bistro dishes on the menu reflecting the seasons and made from Suffolk’s award-winning produce. It’s ideally situated for dinner after a day of exploring the nearby town of Woodbridge, and a countryside walk to one of the surrounding villages of Barnack, Bainton and Ashton.

Less than 60 miles from London sits the picturesque village of Stratford St Mary; there’s a 10 mile circular walk around the village which heads out along the Stour Valley Path. Whilst there are no pubs along the way you are rewarded at the end with a choice of 3 village pubs including The Swan; where you can tuck into Rare roast beef & Welsh Rarebit Ploughmans, Old English Sausages with mashed potato and Black Pudding Hash, poached Duck egg & Hollandaise sauce followed by Poached Pears and Rose Water Mess and Lemon and Fennel Meringue Pie.

 2. For take your breath away experiences

Head to Sudbury Boathouse on the banks of the River Stour and try your hand at canoeing or kayaking with a 1-hour, half-day or full day Paddle & Pub package. For the more adventurous, book one of the Sudbury to Sea packages which include 2 days/1 night paddling of the River Stour and stays in your choice of a hotel, secret woodland campsite or secret wild camping site.

For a truly unique dining experience, step on board the Allen Gardiner River Cruise Restaurant. Dine for brunch or lunch or set sail on a sunset supper or candlelit dinner cruise. The cruise will take you along the River Orwell as part of a group or for something extra special book your own exclusive private charter.

Staying on the water, but not quite so relaxing an experience, take a trip on the Coastal Voyager in Southwold. The Sea Blast is a high-speed 30 minute trip on board the 400hp boat; an exhilarating and fascinating experience, with many trips often spotting harbour porpoises, seals and occasionally dolphins!

Or for unrivalled views and outstanding photo opportunities, book a tour of St Edmudsbury Cathedral Tower. After climbing the 209 steps, you are rewarded breathtaking views of the town and rolling countryside beyond.

 3. For the drink!

No trip to Suffolk would be complete without sampling some of the famous local brews, and not only can you enjoy a pint (or two) you can also tour some of the UK’s top breweries and distilleries.

Located in the seaside town of Southwold, you can take a tour of both the Adnams Brewery and Distillery. From the outside, the brewery is still housed within the original Victorian building, but inside lies one of the most modern breweries in the UK. Both tours include product sampling (hurrah!), but if they’ve merely whetted your appetite, pay a visit to the Adnams Shop to stock up your drinks cabinet.

Find out how real beer is brewed along with traditional brewing methods with a tour of Bury St Edmund’s historic brewery, Greene King. The roof of the brew house offers magnificent views of the town and a stop in the Beer Café will enable you to sample some of the cask ales produced along with sandwiches, small plates, salads and classic such as Steak & Abbot Ale Pie and Home Recipe Sausages.

Tucked away on quirky St Johns Street in the town (amongst a collection in independent boutiques, vintage shops and tattoo parlours) you will find The Stillery, a ‘speak-easy’ style cocktail bar serving gin made in their own on-site distillery. They offer a range of gin making courses too should you fancy having a go yourself!

Staying in Bury St Edmunds, be sure to stop by The Nutshell, the UKs second smallest pub (the smallest until very recently!) with a bar measuring just 15ft by 7ft. Serving beer since 1867, the pub has a spooky past. Step inside and you will see the dried body of black cat hanging from the ceiling; found buried within the walls having been placed there in the late 1800s to keep witches away.

 4. For gastronomic delights 

Situated on the Quay in Sudbury you will find Shillingford’s, a pop up ‘wildfood’ restaurant serving exciting dishes of Wild Boar, Venison and Highland Steak alongside a creative vegetarian menu with plates such as Seagrass Sushi; all made with locally sourced, foraged foods which have been collected by the chef.

Offering French fine dining from their stylish restaurant in Bury St Edmunds, Maison Bleue serves a mouth-watering a la carte menu featuring plates including Orkney Island King Scallop and Norfolk Quail, Wild Seabass, Creedy Carver Duck and Saddle of Rabbit with Sauteed Snails, followed by Braeburn Apple Tartlet and Coffee and Azelia Grand Cru Chocolate Soft Ganache. There’s an impressive wine menu to accompany your meal too!

For something a little less formal and just a stone’s throw from Maison Bleue, is Ben’s Restaurant. An award-winning farm to fork restaurant, the menu uses ingredients from Suffolk’s independent producers and is listed in The Good Food Guide as a Local Gem in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In the heart of the seaside town of Southwold sits Adnams’s flagship hotel The Swan; after an exciting transformation the historic hotel re-opened it’s doors in Autumn 2017 and has since received rave reviews. The Still Room restaurant oozes style and charm and feels like a private club. Start your meal with a drink at the stunning copper bar which reflects the hotel’s brewing heritage before tucking into Chef Ross Bott’s a la carte menu made from seasonal, local produce. 

5. For romantic boltholes

Home to some of the UKs prettiest towns and villages, it goes without saying that Suffolk is perfect for couples wanting to book a romantic weekend away.

Snuggle up in front of the fire and spend a candlelit evening at Hex Cottage. Situated on the edge of the stunning Sibton Park Wilderness Reserve, the thatched former forester’s cottage sleeps two and comes with a canopied double Hypnos bed, roll top bath with views out across the surrounding woodland and kitchen with an Esse wood-burning range and original bread oven. With no electricity, you can truly get away from it all here!

Just two miles from the historic village of Lavenham (which was the inspiration for Godric’s Hollow in the Harry Potter novels) you will find The Windmill; recently converted, the contemporary styled holiday home is perfect for a couples retreat. Sit and watch the sunset over the surrounding countryside in the POD or head to the 4th floor at night to watch look at the night sky from the balcony.

A four-star boutique hotel located on Ipswich’s stylish marina, the Salthouse Harbour Hotel is ideal for couples wanting a weekend of shopping, theatre, good food and night’s out. The large rooms offer views across the waterfront with many also featuring copper roll top baths, kingsize beds and TempleSpa toiletries. Book a table in the hotel’s Eaterie to also enjoy an a la carte menu complimented with cocktails.

 5. For outdoor adventures

Offering a range of outdoor activities in locations across Suffolk, Explore 4 x 4 have everything the outdoor enthusiast could want including blindfold driving, hovercraft, archery and crossbows. If you think you could give Bear Grylls a run for his money, then book the Military Escape and Survival Adventure. The 24 hour experience is held over two days and run by ex-military personnel, just don’t expect Egyptian cotton sheets and a Full English breakfast!

Great for couples and groups of friends, Go Ape in Thetford Forest features a 739 metre high ropes tree top course with a 140 metre long zip wire, plus forest Segway course with 4 different routes to suit all abilities and thrill-levels!

If that’s not thrilling enough, then book a skydive with UK Parachuting at Ellough Airfield near Beccles. During the Tandem Skydive the plane journey up will offer you views of the stunning Suffolk coast and, once you reach 13,000 feet, a thrilling free fall from the plane at 120 mph to around 5000 feet before you parachute opens and you descend back to earth.

Whether you’re an amateur chef or trying to be more self-sufficient, then book a place on one of Suffolk Market’s Foragers Feast days. The Spring Forage Days will teach you how to find and forage wild vegetables and herbs including wild garlic, alexanders, hogweed, water cress, broom, cleavers, cow parsley and even the common nettle. Run by local chef Carl Shillingford and plantsman Matthew Rooney around the woods and heathland of Arger Fen and Tiger Hill near Sudbury.


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