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Having a Blast on the Suffolk Coast
There are few seaside towns as quintessentially British as Southwold. With its sandy beach lined by a string of brightly painted beach huts, lighthouse and invitingly cheerful pier jutting out into the sea, it makes a good base to explore this pretty stretch of the Suffolk coast.
We based ourselves at the Randolph Hotel, on the outskirts of Southwold. Follow the link for the accommodation review.
Day 1 - Exploring Southwold
George Orwell settled in Southwold in 1921 and stayed for 20 years. You can see a colourful tribute to him at the edge of the Pier.
Southwold Pier hosts an arcade with a collection of weird and wonderfully eccentric coin operated machines designed by Tim Hunkin. You can see his innovative water clock on The Pier too.
There are plenty of places to stop for a drink or a snack – but be sure you don’t miss the wonderfully wacky Hall of Mirrors.
Tips for Future Travellers
The Pier is closed when there are high winds – so if you are unlucky enough to have bad weather during your stay, time your visit accordingly to avoid disappointment.
You can climb up Southwold Lighthouse and explore the views from the top. Tours take approximately 30 minutes and are on the hour and half hour.
Advanced booking is not necessary – buy your tickets on the day (£4.50 for adults) directly from the Visitor Centre.
The beach huts lining The Promenade at Southwold are a joy to walk beside. Each has its own individual personality, reflecting the wishes and dreams of its lucky owners.
If you want to own one yourself, you would have to fork out a hefty £150,000 (11/10/20 – Durrants Estate Agents – “The Folly”).
You can rent one for a much more affordable £24 a day or £120 a week. A hut would give you a cosy place to watch the comings and goings on the beach. Grab a blanket to keep you warm if the wind is blowing and enjoy making a cup of tea in your very own kitchenette – nice. Or go the whole way and grab yourself some tasty fish and chips – always best eaten right beside the seaside.
Be sure to allow enough time to call in to Adnam’s Brewery in the centre of town. You can also book a tour of the distillery – or – if you have enough time – try your hand at making your own gin.
Adnams Copper House Gin is a juniper berry based gin distilled with an unusually delicious blend of six botanicals: Orris Root, Coriander Seed, Cardamom Pod, Sweet Orange Peel and Hibiscus Flower. Serve with a slice of orange to enhance the flavour.
Adnam’s claim it is the world’s best gin. Try it and see for yourself!
Day 2 - Walking to Walberswick and Having a Blast!
Walk from Southwold to Walberswick via Marshes
We followed an 11.9 kilometre circular walk trail from Southwold to Walberswick.
You can view the map and full directions on the All Trails App – Click the Link below.. All Trails is great for navigating on your walk. Based on Google Maps, it guides you expertly through all the twists and turns – highly recommended!
From the sea front in Southwold, walk up through the busy little harbour across the Bailey Bridge footbridge that crosses the River Blyth and then on to the pretty village of Walberswick village. This walk will take you through the Walberswick Nature Reserve and across the reedbeds that separate the village from the sea. It is mostly flat, but – like many of the walks in this area – can be wet after rain.
Walberswick has tea rooms, restaurants, two public houses, an art gallery, a village shop, original crafts and gift shops. You have a good choice of pitstops for lunch – or wait until you are back at the harbour where there are huts selling a variety of fresh fish – and of course – fish and chips.
If you are celebrating a special occasion and fancy doing something a little bit different, why not do as we saw one happy couple doing – spread out your picnic rug by the harbour and enjoy a seafood lunch right by the waterside. They even had a selection of cakes on a three tiered china stand and a bottle of champagne in an ice bucket. No photos – in respect for their privacy – but I will leave you to conjure up the happy scene. Come to think of it – why wait for a special occasion – life is for living after all?!
The Walberswick Ferry also runs in the summer months, so – for the princely sum of £2 per adult – you can choose to have the fun of being rowed across the estuary in a little ferry boat.
Having a Blast with the Coastal Voyager
Do you sometimes just feel like letting yourself go and having a bit of fun? If you are in adventurous mood, book a Sea Blast trip with Coastal Voyager based at Southwold’s harbour.
It isn’t a cheap thrill (£29 per adult) – but it is really good fun! I won’t give you too many spoilers, but suffice it to say that the music choice is as exhilarating as the ride itself. Be prepared to hold on tight as your boat is put through its paces in the hands of your expert crewmen.
You can easily time your ride to fit in on the home stretch of your circular walk to Walberswick. Setting out on the walk at the start of the day and stopping for a leisurely lunch, we made it back in plenty of time for a 3pm Sea Blast.
Tips for Future Travellers
You can’t take anything onto the boat with you – be prepared to travel light and leave your bags in the Coastal Voyager Office.
Glad I Packed
Waterproof jacket, Hiking Boots
Day 3 - Meet the Seals at Horsey Beach
A short hour’s drive across the border from Suffolk into Norfolk gives you the opportunity to visit Horsey Beach and enjoy watching the playful seals that have colonised this area.
If you have time for a walk, try the National Trust circular walk around Horsey Village.
Leave your car at Horsey Gap. You never know quite where the seals will place themselves of course – but there are a LOT of seals on this beach, so your chances of seeing large numbers of them are very high. You might be lucky and find them all at the beach entrance – but allow yourself the time to walk a mile or so along this very beautiful beach to see the best of the seals. You won’t find any of the usual seaside amusements and attractions here – just miles of soft, unspoiled sand and – usually – not too many visitors.
Flora and Fauna
Find out more about the seals on the link below.
Tips for Future Travellers
Dogs are allowed on the beach, but obviously, should not be allowed anywhere hear the seals. In the Winter months when the seal pups are born, the beach is often closed to visitors to protect the seals – check before you visit.
The National Trust Nelson’s Head Pub also has a car park from which you can access Horsey Beach. You can treat yourself to a great lunch and some good beer here too – Highly Recommended!