Sitting on East Anglia’s coast and stretching from Kessingland in the North to the South’s Stour estuary, the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty spans 155 square miles of protected landscape and covers 60 miles of impressive coastline. The area provides a wealth of distinctive places of beauty for visitors to explore including untouched coastlines, ancient forestry, dense marshland and charming towns and villages that are found all over the area. Thousands of tourists each year visit the Suffolk Coast and Heaths looking to find a unique and diverse holiday destination and often leave feeling inspired and invigorated after witnessing the stunning spectacles on offer within the area.
Named as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s easy to see how it earned its title. The Suffolk coastline relies solely on its undisturbed landscape and organic features in order to draw visitors to its shores. The coast has been left to change and develop with the elements of the wind and the sea, so commercialisation of the area has been shunned in order to provide a naturally-rich experience instead. As well as enjoying the shingle beaches in the summer, exploring the gems that are hidden from immediate view will bring you to mysterious lagoons, rare plants and tall reedbeds all under the loom of lighthouses and pretty cottages. Many birds make the coast their home, including the ringed plover, sand martin and the linnet, so for birdwatchers there are a host of creatures to view and witness in their natural setting.
The Heathland is another impressive landscape contributing to the area’s natural beauty and throws a wealth of colourful farmland walks that can keep your interest for miles. Covering the fields is an array of pretty plant species’ that brighten the ground alongside the distinctive purple heather. The skylark, yellowhammer and grey partridge all live amongst the waterlogged heathlands and are steadily increasing in numbers now that the land has once again flooded. Each of Suffolk’s five estuaries are low lying which allows for magnificent views out into the distance and across wide saltmarshes. The estuaries range from 4 miles at length to 16 at the longest and are used for a variety of activities and services including fishing, nature reserves and boat harbours. The estuaries provide a very important feeding ground for the wildlife in the area, with notable birds including Redshank, Avocet and the Bittern. Seals and Otters also live in the estuaries offering a rare and amazing site to visitors lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty incorporates many quaint towns and villages, most of which are small and friendly and use many distinctive Dutch architectural features to decorate the establishments. The coastal town of Aldeburgh is centred around water pursuits, with fishing and yachting the favoured past times of the area, and its shingle beach is perfect for lazing on during the summer heatwave. The Moot Hall, built in 1520, is a Grade I listed town building and offers a snapshot into the historic Tudor period. It is also home to the brilliant local museum which provides an interesting yet educational look into traditional 17th century life. To the North of Aldeburgh is the RSPB Minsmere – a nature reserve that is an absolute must-visit for bird watching enthusiasts in the UK. Over 100 species of bird reside at the reserve with a further 240 migratory visitors. One of the site’s main focuses is of the management of the reed beds and bird numbers have thrived since these conservation efforts first started.
Lying close to Aldeburgh is the small village of Snape, which is known historically as the site of a ship burial in the Anglo-Saxon era. Most recently the village has found fame as providing the inspiration for one of JK Rowling’s most prominent characters in her Harry Potter novels- Severus Snape. Each year, the Aldeburgh Festival is held at the Snape Malting’s Concert Hall where classical music, literature, drama, readings of poetry and art exhibitions are seen and heard in celebration of all things artistic. If the arts don’t interest you, shooting, golf and fishing are alternative activities available in the area and you can find fantastic lunches and evening dinners at The Key and The Crown Inn.
For the more physical being, there are many walking paths that take you directly through the most breathtaking sites, allowing you to get some exercise whilst you’re captivated by the area’s beauty. One of the most fantastic coastal walks appears between the villages of Dunwich and Walberswick and lasts for 50 miles in total. You can make this a circular walk- shortening it to a distance you’re capable of, and the track travels past the Walberswick National Nature Reserve along the way. Cycling in Suffolk offers a variety of pleasant bike rides which take you past miles of impressive scenery and prove to be relatively easy with no steep climbs. The Suffolk Coastal Cycle Route is a favourite of many, with its traffic-free route making it perfectly safe to travel on. The route is circular and features multiple detours through the forest to entertain you and to vary the scenery whilst you ride.
There is so much to see and do throughout the entire stretch of the Suffolk Coast that will keep you busy during the whole duration of your holiday. With so many destinations and landscapes on offer, you might need a week more than you’ve already booked!