A visit to The Suffolk Coast in winter is a truly unique experience; as the crowds seeking sunny days by the sea have headed home, it becomes a place to get away from it all, experience something new, and recharge the batteries.
Whether you travel from afar or are just a short drive away, make sure these things to do are on your bucket list!
1. Walk the historic scores in Lowestoft
A walk up and down the historic scores is the ideal way to discover Lowestoft's maritime history. A series of narrow lanes created over time by the fishermen and women bringing their catch up from the beach village to the High Street.
During the winter months, you can warm up with a hot chocolate in Martello's Cafe in Sparrow's Nest and if you're feeling particularly energetic, pop on your running shoes and follow the route of the annual Scores Race; the course takes you from the High Street, along the sea wall and back up and down the scores; including 401 steps!
2. See migrating birds over the Orwell Estuary
Experience one of East Anglia’s finest wildlife spectacles and see thousands of birds flying over the magnificent Orwell estuary, aboard the Thames Sailing Barge Victor. The half day excursion is hosted by an on-board expert who provides a continuous informative commentary to help you get the most out of the bird-watching and environment.
For more information, visit www.sbvictor.co.uk/
3. Go to a winter concert at Snape Maltings
The world-famous concert hall at Snape Maltings plays host to a range of concerts this winter; with everything from classical and choral to percussion and jazz.
The Winter 2017/Spring 2018 programme includes leading artists and ensembles including Mitsuko Uchida, Angelika Kirchschlager, English Touring Opera, Ute Lemper, Håkan Hardenberger & Colin Currie, Tenebrae, Nicola Benedetti and Mark Padmore.
Make sure you have the Christmas Weekend from 15th - 17th December is in your diary! On Saturday 16th December, Father Christmas will be sailing into Snape by Thames Sailing Barge plus there's a range of family events including The Snowman and Paddington Bear’s First Concert with live orchestra, BBC Radio Suffolk’s Carol Concert (in aid of BBC Children in Need) and performances from Norwich Cathedral Choir, Aldeburgh Voices and The Suffolk Ensemble. There’ll also be fun family activities around the site including workshops, storytelling sessions and a trail.
The Christmas Farmers Market on 23rd December is also a must! Stock up on locally made meats, cheeses, breads, chutneys and all you need for Christmas dinner including sprouts, parsnips, Christmas pudding and chestnuts.
For more information, visit snapemaltings.co.uk
4. Eat steaming hot fish and chips on the beach at Aldeburgh
After a bracing walk along the beach, stopping en route to admire Maggi Hambling's sculpture The Scallop, head into the town to peruse the independent shops, boutiques and cafes before paying a visit to Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop.
Choose your steaming hot cod and chips to go, and walk through the historic buildings onto the beach, where you can find a spot to listen to the waves crash, watch the boats go by, and tuck in to the 'world's best fish and chips'.
For more information, visit www.aldeburghfishandchips.co.uk
5. Amble up the Deben Estuary
One of the most picturesque walks on The Suffolk Coast, start in Woodbridge and follow the River Wall, past the boats and out along the banks of the estuary. Remember to pack the binoculars too and look out for Redshanks, Curlews and Oyster Catchers to name but a few.
Afterwards, head into the town and pay a visit to one of the many cafes and bakeries (our favourites are The Tea Hut, The Firestation Cafe and The Cake Shop Bakery), Or make a weekend of it, and book a stay at The Crown at Woodbridge; complete with dinner in the award-winning restaurant, followed by cocktails in the stylish bar.
Download the route map here:
6. Stroll along Southwold Pier
Southwold's historic pier plays home to a cafe and restaurant plus Tim Hunkin's Under the Pier Show; collection of hand-built, utterly silly, totally potty machinery, the Wacky Walk of Mirrors, the Waterclock and The Quantum Tunnelling Telescope; demonstrating the latest advances in particle physics and quantum dynamics focusing on time and space to bring you everything that could possibly happen in the North Sea... including nuclear explosions and singing mermaids!
After a stroll along the pier and out to sea, enjoy locally caught fish and chips or a heart roast dinner in The Boardwalk Restaurant, pastries, cakes and coffee in The Clockhouse Cafe or a full english breakfast in the Beach Cafe.
For more information, visit www.southwoldpier.co.uk
7. Get muddy in Rendlesham Forest
Young explorers will love hunting for UFOs in Rendlesham Forest; the setting for the well-known UFO incident which occurred on 26th December 1980. It's reported that Servicemen who were stationed at RAF Woodbridge saw lights in the trees and discovered a conical object the size of a car, floating in a forest clearing.
After completing the UFO trail, head to the giant play area; complete with tube slide, obstacle course, zip line and swings. The forest is a favourite of dogs too, with miles of woodland pathway to sniff and run along.
If you prefer to travel at a faster pace, then hop on your bike and whip along the Rendlesham to Shingle Street Explorer cycle route.
8. Watch the Old Glory Molly Men
Molly dancing traditionally only appeared during the depths of winter as a means of earning some money when the land was frozen or waterlogged and could not be worked. East Anglia's 'Morris Dancers', the Molly dancers of Old Glory are all men, whilst the musicians are all women playing a variety of instruments, which may include at least one four-stop melodeon in the "Suffolk key" of C, concertina, recorder, drums, trombone, “tea-chest” bass and rommelpot.
Throughout December you can catch them stomping their feet and waving their firey staffs at locations including Bungay Christmas Market on Sunday 3rd December at 1.30pm, The Three Horseshoes in North Cove, Beccles on Saturday 16th December at 8pm, The Locks Inn at Geldeston, Beccles on the Winter Solstice, Thursday 21st December at 8pm, and Christmas Eve at various venues in Southwold at approximately 7.45pm and The Bell Inn at Walberswick at 9.30pm.
After Christmas they will be back, celebrating Plough Monday at the Rumburgh Buck on Monday 8th January at 8.30pm followed by a Village Wassail at The White Horse in Sweffling on Saturday 20th January at 7.30pm.