The Suffolk Coast & Heaths: 10 reasons why it’s one of the best AONBs

Aldeburgh (c) martin_vmorris, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Aldeburgh (c) martin_vmorris, Flickr (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretches from Kessingland to Shotley Peninsula spanning across a plethora of diverse landscapes from beaches, heath and forest

1. Beautiful beaches

A mixture of sand and shingle, the beaches stretching along Suffolk Coast & Heaths are home to some the most breathtaking scenery in the county – nay the country even. Aldeburgh, Walberswick, The Denes and even Covehithe are just a few of the wonderful spots to take in some sea air and if you’re lucky, catch some rays in that elusive British sunshine.

2. The landscape

It’s called outstanding for a reason; the low-lying coastal flat land is a stunning mixture of contrasting landscapes. Stare in wonder as the landscape changes from shingle beaches to open marshes, dense forests, heaths, estuaries, farmland and ancient cliffs. What’s more, the area has been mostly spared of any modern development making it the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature.

3. The walks

The best way to enjoy the views and scenery of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths is undoubtedly by foot. There is an assortment of different walking routes available that cater to all different sorts of skill levels, from long distance to shorter, more manageable routes. Our favourite has to be ‘The Suffolk Coast Path’ – a 50 mile trek from Felixstowe to Lowestoft covering all of the best views and landscapes that Suffolk Coast & Heaths has to offer.

4. The History

There is a wealth of history to be explored in the area with a myriad of ancient buildings and intriguing heritage sites. Orford Castle is one of the most intact historical keeps in England allowing visitors to explore the basement, upper and lower halls and even the roof where they can enjoy some mesmerising sea view vistas. There is also Sutton Hoo, the Anglo Saxon royal burial site set on a stunning 255 acre estate. Take a stroll around the burial grounds and marvel at the views of the estate and the nearby River Deben.

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5. The arts and culture

Suffolk Coast & Heaths boasts an impressive roster music and art festivals that take place each year. Visit Snape Maltings for the annual Aldeburgh Music Festival or one of the many concerts and events taking place throughout the year. The Aldeburgh Beach Lookout is a haven for local artists with many of them showcasing their work. Latitude Festival in Southwold’s Henham Park is one of the UK’s top music festivals which consistently features an incredible lineup of the best music artists around.

6. Wildlife

With its contrast of coast, heath, farmland and estuaries there is a hugely diverse variety of wildlife that calls the area home, as well as a resplendent selection of nature reserves to explore. Minsmere, Oford Ness and Trimley Marshes are all excellent places to spot birds, mammals, butterflies, and a staggering number of plants and flowers.

7. Sailing

The presence of estuaries means there are plenty of opportunities to spend some time on the water. Local sailing clubs allow guests to take part in canoeing, kayaking, rowing, windsurfing and more recently, kite-boarding. It’s also the perfect place for a spot of sailing – especially when the sun is shining.

8. It’s dog friendly

Much of the Suffolk Heaths & Coast is dog friendly so you can explore the beautiful landscape with your four legged friend trotting happily by your side. The area is a strong advocate of the EU project ‘I’m a good dog’ and they offer training and education on managing your dog safely in the area, helping to create an environment that keeps all visitors safe and happy.

9. Conservation

Being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is not just a pretty title, it also comes with a responsibility to protect, conserve and enrich the area. For that reason Suffolk Coast & Heaths is involved in numerous projects and partnerships to protect the environment and the local wildlife both in the present and the future.

Pollinator Patches is designed to address the declining population of bees by planting bulbs, wildflowers and shrubs to increase nectar sources. Scattered Orchard sees that a variety of fruit and nut trees are planted throughout the area to act as habitats for the local wildlife. The BALANCE Project – concluded in 2013 – saw numerous improvements to damaged coastal paths, an increase in information boards for the public and a successful tourism strategy to raise awareness on landscapes and environment.

10. Coastal towns and villages

The towns and villages within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths are ideal places to spend a day or more, expect plenty of the character and charm synonymous with traditional coastal towns. Savour the ancient architecture, quaint little shops, local delicacies and delicious food and drink. Your visit also helps to support the tourism and economy of the area!

Kessingland: Just south of Lowestoft, this village is well known for its historical importance, due to the presence of numerous ancient artefacts. Its immaculate beach and abundance of pubs and restaurants make it a firm favourite for family holidays.

Southwold: The quintessential Suffolk seaside town with its award winning pier, iconic beach-side huts and bustling little harbour is the perfect destination for a spontaneous weekend away. With a staggering number of bed and breakfast’s, guest houses and self catering holiday homes you’ll find no shortage of places to stay that cater all of tastes.

Walberswick: If you’re searching for some peace and tranquillity, a secluded spot to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday then Walberswick is the place for you. Spend the day exploring a local art gallery, potter around some of the charming gift shops and take tea in the local tea shop. If you’re feeling peckish then pay a visit to the fisherman huts and purchase some freshly caught fish for a meal you’ll likely never forget.

Felixstowe: This traditional seaside resort town is loved by all for its beautiful sand and shingle beach and vibrant seaside attractions. The self-catered beachfront houses like the Seafront Sunrise and Felsto Beach are perfect for a family stay and there are a myriad of restaurants and cafés to choose from serving almost every cuisine you can think of.

Aldeburgh: A fabulous mix of music, food and friendly atmosphere - Aldeburgh is perfect for the whole family. It’s home to some breathtaking views to be enjoyed whilst stretching your legs on the ‘Eastbridge Pub and Dog Walk’. Stroll through forest, meadow and beach, before making a quick stop for tea at the National Trust Tea Room. Finish at the Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop which is described by some as the best fish and chips in the UK!