As the winter weather is beginning to break and the days are drawing out, we’ve listed 6 things to do that should be on your itinerary during a Spring trip to The Suffolk Coast...
1. Witness Lambs being born at Easton Farm Park
Easton Farm Park is the perfect place to witness lambs being born! A working farm, Spring welcomes in a range of new lives including; piglets, kids, newly hatched chicks and ducklings… and as summer approaches, the farm welcomes donkey foals and cow calves. Be sure to visit the mini farm trail where children (and grown-ups!) can get up close and stroke the lambs, hug the bunnies and enjoy pony rides.
If the weather should turn, you can make use of the indoor soft play. That’s strictly for children only but the Barmy Barn Café with newspapers, wifi and delicious healthy food is there for adults.
During the Easter holidays, there are Easter Egg Hunts at the park between 14th - 17th April and on the 20th and 21st May, you can watch the resident sheep being sheered.
Opening times and admission: Easton Farm Park is open daily until 31st March between 9.30am and 3pm, admission is £3 for adults and £3 for children. From 1st April the park is open daily from 10.30am - 5.30pm, for admission prices, go to www.eastonfarmpark.co.uk
2.Play a round of Crazy Golf at Southwold Boating Lake and Tearoom
One of the only remaining Victorian boating lakes in the country, Southwold Boating Lake and Tearoom is idyllically situated just a stone's throw from the Pier and award-winning beach.
Children will enjoy messing about in pedalos and the whole family can play a round of crazy golf.
The Victorian pavilion tearoom serves a selection of breakfasts, lunches and fresh homemade snacks and observes The Suffolk Coast’s field to fork philosophy, with all food made using local produce wherever possible.
Treat yourself to a cream tea and enjoy it in the surroundings of the private island located behind the Tearoom pavilion; described as a “perfect haven for Bird watchers”, with willow fencing, its a peaceful and quiet location to sit and watch the world go by and spot migrating birds.
3. Meet the 'March Hares' on RSPB Havergate Island
The phrase “Mad as a March Hare” is an idiom derived from the antics of hares in the March breeding season.
According to Countryfile magazine, RSPB Havergate Island is one of the 5 best places in the UK to chance witnessing the fascinating wildlife spectacle of “boxing” hares this Spring; with golden brown fur, a white belly and long ears with black tips. At full pelt, they can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour!
They're usually solitary creatures but during March and April you can see females fighting off the mating urges of the males, standing on their hind legs and literally 'boxing' with their front paws.
At only 2 miles long and 0.5 miles wide, Suffolk’s only island is also an important breeding, roosting and feeding site for many migratory and resident bird species. The lagoons and marshes make it an important roosting and feeding site - the UK's largest breeding population of pied avocets and Suffolk's only breeding Sandwich terns can be found there.
Other birds found on the island include oystercatchers, redshanks, ringed plovers, golden plover, dunlin, greenshank and turnstones as well as wigeon, pintail and wheatears.
If you're a keen wildlife photographer, then join Wild Adventures under Suffolk's Skies on a Photography Day on Havergate Island. Further details of the photography days on offer can be found on their website www.wasuffolk.com
Opening times and admission:
The island is owned by the RSPB who charge a fee to enter the nature reserve (reduced for members) but access is via boat which leaves Orford Quay on the first Saturday of the month (except May, June and July). Pre-booking is essential, contact the RSPB Minsmere nature reserve on 01728 648281.
Facilities on the island include a number of bird hides, toilets and a picnic area.
Guided tours are also available. The site is unsuitable for wheelchair or pushchair users due to the unimproved nature of its paths and boat access.
4. Walk amongst the Bluebells at Captain's Wood
The bluebell is another sign of Spring and Captain’s Wood near Woodbridge offers one of the most astonishing displays– known as a Bluebell carpet.
The area, known on ancient maps as Cutmore’s Wood has been passed ownership from various wealthy Bishops, noblemen and moneyed families, including in 1550 the Bishop of Norwich.
These days, the Wood is owned by The Suffolk Wildlife Trust who purchased the 140 acre site to offer free access to the public. Of this, 50 acres is grassland and the remainder woodland with oak and birch to almost pure hazel, mature Scots pine and sweet chestnut - in fact, 65 recorded botanical species!
There is a car park on School Lane, Sudbourne, IP12 2BE which is 400 metres away from the entrance.
Opening times and admission: The woods are free to enter and open at all times and there is a circular pedestrian trail (3km) which explores the reserve. The walk can be damp and rough in places but there are benches situated periodically for rests where you can enjoy the view.
Once you arrive at the Wood, you step back one hundred years or more into a habitat of ancient trees and wild flowers where deer roam freely, barn owls hunt the clearings and seven species of bat feed amongst the trees.
The best time to see the reserve is April and May. Due to the wildlife, dogs are not allowed.
For more information, visit www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org/reserves/captains-wood
5. Listen to the sounds of the Cuckoo at RSPB Minsmere
The cuckoo's minor third in April, increasing to a major third or a fourth as the season progresses signals warm weather is on the way and at RSPB Minsmere Nature Reserve you may hear the UKs the first calling of the year from the Island Mere.
Of course, the coastal nature reserve has so much more to offer than just cuckoos and other songbirds but as birdlife returns to the country, there can’t be many better places to view them than here. Something Chris Packham agrees with, associating Suffolk with “rarity, because of the wildlife that is here and nowhere else”.
The reserve is perfect for all ages and families with a range of walks and activities on offer; shorter buggy friendly walks and longer, wider trails and shell speckled beaches, the Wild Zone play area for kids and a café with high chairs and baby change facilities.
There's a range of events planned for Spring including Birdwatching for Beginners, Easter Crafts and Family Nature Walk, Bird Ringing demonstrations and Pond Dipping. For full event listings, visit: www.rspb.org.uk/minsmere
Opening times and admission: Daily from 9am to 5.30pm, entry to the visitor centre is free. Admission to the countryside walks, Wild Zone and hides is free for RSPB members and RSPB Wildlife Explorers. Non-member adults £9, children (under 19) £5, Under 5s free, students £6, or take advantage of the family offer: one child free with two paying adults.
6. Discover the Four Foot Ferries of The Suffolk Coast
The four foot ferries of The Suffolk Coast are a unique and popular attraction! Transporting walkers, cyclists and explorers around the coastline, a trip on board is a fun experience for children and adults alike.
Departing from Walberswick jetty, the Walberswick Ferry takes passengers across the River Blyth from Southwold Harbour to the pretty seaside village. People, bicycles and dogs are all welcome aboard the rowing boat, and the pleasure of making such a trip costs just 90p per person!
Rowing between Butley and Orford, the Butley Ferry is an optional, but enjoyable link on the Suffolk Coast Path and Regional Cycle Route 41, it's said to be the smallest ferry in Europe, so anything bigger than a bike won't be able to board!
Further south you will find Bawdsey Ferry and unlike Walberswick and Butley, it's a powered vessel, so you may find yourself sat next to a fisherman, making their way out to a boat!
At the southernmost point of the county, you can hop on board Harwich Harbour Ferry. Travelling between the towns of Harwich, Felixstowe and Shotley. The largest of the ferries in Suffolk, it can carry up to 58 people. During a trip on board, you may find yourself sailing alongside some of the monster cargo ships coming into the port at Felixstowe - a sight to be seen indeed!
For more information on the Four Foot Ferries of The Suffolk Coast, download this handy guide: