Who said Suffolk is just a summer destination? We are here to let you in on a secret. You can have just as much fun and admire just as much beauty in the winter season.
There are so many stories to be told about the winter months in Suffolk. Don’t worry, we will tell you them all eventually, but today our focus is on an adventure from Aldeburgh (a cultural coastal town) to Thorpeness (a pretty lakeside holiday village). Here is our guide to the perfect cold winter’s day on the Suffolk Coast.
On your arrival into the town of Aldeburgh you’ll need to find a spot to park. The perfect place is on the seafront, right outside the iconic Moot Hall. This stunning 16th Century timber-framed building houses the Aldeburgh Museum and is filled with history, treasures and artefacts (which you can visit in the summer months) and – unbelievably – used to be positioned well away from the beach. Hundreds of years of coastal erosion have effectively moved it towards the sea. Once you have finished admiring this wonderful building, it’s time to crack on and enjoy the crisp Suffolk day ahead of you.
With the bright winter sun creeping ever higher above the chilly grey sea the adventure begins by heading north. Forget about your car. This journey is all about the experience on foot. Keep the sea to your right and enjoy your stroll through Aldeburgh, past the fishing shacks full of today’s fresh catch and the smoked fish stall with its mouth-watering aromas.
With Aldeburgh now behind you and Thorpeness ahead, continue along the asphalt-surfaced coastal footpath until you come to a Pay-and-Display car park (shortly before the coast road’s 40mph limit ends). Here, you’ll see two things: On your right, Maggi Hambling‘s ‘Scallop’ stands tall on the shingle beach. This stainless-steel sculpture has a magical visual transformation depending on where you are standing to view it. Can you spot the seabird, the scallop, two men in a boat, and one man riding the waves home? To your left, the RSPB’s North Warren nature reserve and the entrance to the South Marsh Circuit; the next step on your wintery Suffolk Coast wander.
RSPB North Warren, much like its close neighbour RSPB Minsmere, is a thriving habitat for wildlife throughout the summer and winter. The frost-laden marshes, woodlands, grasslands and reedbeds play host to a huge variety of birds and wildlife. Although the Red Deer rut (a mating ritual so popularly spotted at the Minsmere reserve) may have finished, these beautiful creatures can still occasionally be seen around North Warren in addition to small numbers of Muntjac deer.
As you approach the halfway mark on the South Marsh Circuit it’s time to change route. The Swallows and Starlings may have gone south for the winter, but a brisk winter wander along the North Marsh Circuit will reveal flocks of ducks sporting stunning plumage and Wigeons whistling through the air. If you keep a keen eye out, you may even spot flocks of Bewick’s Swans who have migrated 3,000 miles from blisteringly cold Russia to join us in Suffolk for the winter.
The midway point of the North Marsh Circuit will bring you past the reedbeds (which hide Marsh Harriers and Bitterns), around the back of Thorpeness Meare (a man-made boating lake) and into the village of Thorpeness.
Much inspiration for the Meare was taken from the creator’s close friend J.M. Barrie, writer of Peter Pan. Alongside the large main pond there are several channels and islands that hide secret landings named after locations in the Peter Pan novel – such as Pirate’s Lair and Wendy’s House.
Winter brings a beautiful stillness to Thorpeness. The many tourists who flock here for the summer months to frolic on the nearby beach or paddle the rowing boats on the Meare are gone. Now it’s just you, with a view over the chilly waters of the Meare, watching the perfect reflection of a sparkling winter sun. The swans and ducks gather here, waiting to be fed; especially if the Meare freezes over. Having completed half of your journey, we are sure you will have worked up an appetitive too. So why not head to The Meare Shop & Tearoom to warm your bones and enjoy and a tasty treat.
Having revitalised your energy levels, it’s time to begin the next leg of your Suffolk Coast winter adventure. Now you head towards the sea. From Thorpeness, keep the sea to your left and follow the coast all the way back to Aldeburgh. As the sea winds whistle around you and the gentle sea waves crash into the shingle make sure to watch your footstep and not crush the delicate shingle flowers that adorn the beach. You can see Aldeburgh in the distance as the sun gets lower in the winter sky.
As you arrive back into the town, you’ll re-pass the Aldeburgh Scallop and the fish shacks, back to where you began at the Moot Hall. The sun may be beginning to set, but there is still time for one last act of the journey. Aldeburgh is blessed with many wonderful, warm and friendly pubs and restaurants. So, why not cosy up by the roaring fire, warm your bones, and enjoy a tasty pint of Adnams. A popular haunt is Ye Olde Cross Keys, just a three-minute walk from the Aldeburgh Museum. In the fading light, keep your eye out for the twinkling lights of fishermen’s lanterns or boats at sea.
So, there you have it: a perfect cold winter’s day on the Suffolk Coast. The best part? The town of Aldeburgh is just six miles from our beautiful self-catering holiday accommodation, here at Mollett’s Farm. So, why not come and stay in one of our lovely Granary Cottages or Stable Studios and turn a perfect day into a wonderful weekend.
Make sure to check out our blog for more fantastic things to do in Suffolk.
We look forward to welcoming you.