• Sunset paddle on the River Blyth - (c) Simon Gooderham

Discover the Rivers and Waterways of The Suffolk Coast

Suffolk is home to a multitude of winding waterways and rivers, all ebbing and flowing with their own tidal currents. From the muddy creeks and reedbanks of the Deben estuaries to the shingle ridges of Orford Ness and the River Alde, you’ll discover wonderful views and exciting adventures when you take to the water and explore the rivers and waterways of the Suffolk coast. 

River Waveney 

Blogs - Rivers and Waterways - River Waveney (c) Gill Moon PHotography

The winding River Waveney runs through a historic landscape for the best part of 50 miles, forming a boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk and is better known by most as the gateway to the broads’.

There are many opportunities to enjoy the boating lifestyle and there is no better place to start than Hippersons Boatyard. The boatyard offers a collection of unique houseboats and even a floating pod to stay in. The ‘Secret Water’ floating pod is the first of its kind in the UK, and sleeps up to 4 people in a double room and bunk beds. It has a generous deck out front so you can sit and watch the world come and go or set out onto the water with ease. Hippersons also hires out kayaks and boats and is a great starting point for exploring the river.

The knowledgeable folk at Oulton Broad Day Boats can tell you all you need to know to set out on a riverbound adventure. They offer a selection of boats for hire by the hour or the day and recommend that you bring a picnic to stop along the way at one of the many delightful riverside pubs.

If you’d rather sit back and let someone else take the wheel you might want to take a trip on the Big Dog Ferry;  a relaxing three mile boat journey between Beccles and Geldeston. Look out for the wildlife on route, including otters, kingfishers and Marsh Harriers. Choose to take a round trip or disembark and wander back at your leisure. 

River Blyth 

Rivers and Waterways - River Blyth - (c) Gill Moon Photography

The River Blyth takes its name from the Old English ‘Blithe’ meaning gentle or pleasant and certainly, this seven mile long river lives up to its name. Running between the agricultural land of Laxfield and Halesworth and reaching a tidal estuary between the gorgeous towns of Southwold and Walberswick, the estuary mouth forms part of the harbour area of Southwold and is still an active fishing harbour.

To explore the area by foot, and cross from Southwold to Walberswick, it is necessary to take a detour to the road bridge. But a quicker and much more enjoyable option is to take the Walberswick Ferry. The little rowing boat transports walkers, cyclists and even dogs back and forth for a small fee and the short ride takes just a few minutes. 

River Alde 

Rivers and Waterways - River Alde - Snape Maltings (c) Gill Moon Photography

The waterways of the River Alde simply exude serenity and entwined with the River Ore, they weave their way from the source at Brundish before separating at Snape, widening considerably and becoming tidal.

Iken Canoe sailing centre invites you to hire out a range of paddle crafts and take to the waters of the River Alde to explore several routes, all with fantastic views and wildlife in abundance; you might be lucky enough to spot a Marsh Harrier or even seals and otters. Paddling together is great team building for the family, and if you can make it all the way to Snape Bridge, there’s an opportunity to stop for refreshments at one of the cafes or restaurants at the iconic Snape Maltings, before making your way downriver to where the estuary widens and you can see the historic Blackheath Mansion and Yarn Hill Wood. Prices start at thirty pounds for a Kayak for two hours with buoyancy aids provided.

River Deben 

Rivers and Waterways - River Deben - Ramsholt (c) Gill Moon Photography

The River Deben is a beautiful stretch of waterway; rich in wildlife and history, twisting and turning past ancient abbeys, greenery and water mills. The Deben passes through Woodbridge, turning into a tidal estuary before entering the North Sea at Felixstowe Ferry. You can cross the estuary on another of the 4 foot ferries of The Suffolk Coast - travelling from Felixstowe to Bawdsey. The Deben is also responsible for turning the wheels of the Tide Mill at Woodbridge, which still produce stone ground wholemeal flour in the traditional way. 

The Deben estuary is within the Suffolk Coast and Heath Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is a significant location for the study of rare plantlife. Deben Cruises, starting at Waldringfield offer visitors the chance to take a two hour long journey along the river on the all-weather boat- ‘The Jahan’, which can carry up to 54 passengers comfortably, with toilet facilities onboard. Book ahead to take advantage of the refreshments that can be provided; fresh scones, cream and jam with tea or coffee will make your trip that extra bit special. 

River Orwell 

Rivers and Waterways - River Orwell - Sailing Barge Victor

The River Orwell, a popular sailing destination, runs through Suffolk, broadening into an estuary at Ipswich and flowing into the North Sea at Felixstowe. As early as the year 600AD Anglo-Saxons settled in Ipswich, (in those days called Gippeswyk), where a market town was developed. The name Orwell is believed to have meant 'river near the shore', a name which derived from the Anglo Saxons. 

You can enjoy it's sights and sounds and step aboard the handsome Sailing Barge Victor; a majestically rigged 19th Century vessel complete with a bar and striking original features. Victor is an Ipswich dock built ship, which was used during the Second World War, loading munitions out of Chatham Dock- and even survived a direct bomb hit. You can book onto one of the popular cruises and float along the River from Ipswich, enjoying the peace and quiet and watching the birds.

Alternatively, enjoy a cruise on board the Orwell Lady; with cushioned seating, panoramic views and commentary from the knowledgeable onboard skippers. Snacks are available on board, as well as alcoholic beverages, and you can choose from several different routes which all uncover a different aspect of the surrounding area. 

For a more intimate experience, The Lady Florence at Orford, seats 12 passengers comfortably in the warm and serene saloon of the boat, and you can even choose to dine aboard for breakfast, lunch or supper. With a menu of freshly prepared food and accompanying wines, this is a wonderful opportunity to dine with an ever changing view. After your meal, step out onto the ample deck to get some fresh air and watch the world go by. 




Things to see and do

International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) 

International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC)

IBTC in Lowestoft offers a variety of boatbuilding/maintenance and woodworking courses suitable for those looking for a career in the maritime industry as well as individuals wanting to develop existing or new interests and skills.


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Free wifi Dog friendly

Halesworth and the Blyth Valley

Halesworth and the Blyth Valley

The Blyth Valley runs 17 miles inland from the coast at Southwold to Laxfield via Halesworth and Huntingfield and is a superb destination for walking, cycling & wildlife-watching as well as being known for its welcoming pubs and local produce!

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Allen Gardiner River Cruise Restaurant 

Allen Gardiner River Cruise Restaurant

Ipswich

Allen Gardiner River Cruise Restaurant provides a unique and exciting dining experience offering breakfast and a la carte lunch, sunset supper or candlelit dinner cruises. 

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Snape Maltings

Snape Maltings

Snape

Snape Maltings sits on the bank of the River Alde, surrounded by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and just five miles from Aldeburgh.

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Free wifi Dog friendly

Woodbridge Tide Mill

Woodbridge Tide Mill

Woodbridge

Check the website for times of Milling Demonstrations and Wheel-Turnings. The Tide Mill has stood on the banks of the River Deben for over 800 years.

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Visit Felixstowe

Visit Felixstowe

Everybody loves a great day by the sea, and Felixstowe has great days for everyone.

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Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

The Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a stunning landscape packed full with wildlife and exciting places to explore and discover. 

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Oulton Broad Dayboats

Oulton Broad Dayboats

Self drive boat hire by the hour or day, spend time afloat in the newly created Broads National park here in Suffolk. 

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Dog friendly We're Good to Go - VisitEngland Covid-19 accreditation scheme

Excelsior

Excelsior

Come and sail onboard one of Suffolk's historic sailing vessels! Excelsior LT472 is one of the few remaining Lowestoft sailing trawlers, built in 1921 and restored to her original specification on deck. And you can take a hand at sailing her!

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Sailing Barge Victor 

Sailing Barge Victor

Sailing Barge Victor is a perfect marriage of a majestic and traditionally rigged 19th century sailing vessel with comfortable, modern facilities for guests.

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Orwell Lady River Cruises

Orwell Lady River Cruises

Ipswich

From April to October each year, Orwell Lady cruises up and down the beautiful and historic River Orwell, offering passengers a choice of trips and experiences whilst taking in the beautiful wooded stretches of the river, local wildlife and points of local and historical interest.

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Iken Canoe 

Iken Canoe

Iken Canoe hires out Canadian canoes, sit-on-top kayaks and stand up paddleboards (SUPs) on the stunning upper reaches of the River Alde between Snape and Aldeburgh, close to the Suffolk coast. 

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Dog friendly

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Suffolk Wildlife Trust

Felixstowe

From tiny meadows to rolling heaths, the nature reserves extend all the way along the Suffolk Coast from Trimley Marshes at Felixstowe to Lound Lakes north of Lowestoft and are some of Suffolk's most inspiring wild places. 

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Hippersons Boatyard 

Hippersons Boatyard

Some of the best ways to see and experience the river! Day boats, canoes, kayaks and bikes are all available to hire on the southern reach of the Norfolk Broads in Beccles, with day hire from 9.15am till 4.45pm, costing £105 for the day on an electric boat or £50 a day on the canoe.

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Free wifi Dog friendly Wheelchair Accessible We're Good to Go - VisitEngland Covid-19 accreditation scheme

Beccles Lido & Big Dog Ferry

Beccles Lido & Big Dog Ferry

Beccles

Beccles Lido is OPEN for swimming by advance booking only!

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Wheelchair Accessible

National Trust Orford Ness

National Trust Orford Ness

Wild, remote and exposed, Orford Ness contains the ruined remnants of a disturbing past. Ranked among the most important shingle features in the world, rare and fragile wildlife thrives where weapons, including atomic bombs, were once tested and perfected.

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Waveney River Tours

Waveney River Tours

Lowestoft

Conducted river tours and boat hire through the Waveney Valley and the New Broads National Park.

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Dog friendly Wheelchair Accessible

Deben Cruises

Deben Cruises

Enjoy a two-hour river cruise along the River Deben.

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Woodbridge Riverside Trust

Woodbridge Riverside Trust

Woodbridge Riverside Trust is a charitable facilitating organisation for community activities. 

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Free wifi Dog friendly Wheelchair Accessible

Visit Deben Peninsula

Visit Deben Peninsula

The Deben Peninsula is located in Suffolk between the Deben River to the South and the Alde & Ore Estuary the North.

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Visit Waveney Valley

Visit Waveney Valley

Running through the border between Norfolk and Suffolk, it's hard not to fall in love with the Waveney Valley. Discover a timeless rural landscape, where the pace of life is slow and the folk are friendly.

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WHERE TO EAT

Lady Florence River Cruise Restaurant 

Lady Florence River Cruise Restaurant

Orford

Lady Florence River Cruise Restaurant provides a unique and exciting dining experience offering breakfast and a la carte lunch, supper and dinner cruises from Orford Quay, Suffolk.


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Dog friendly