Compared to most of southern Britain, Suffolk’s shoreline is largely undeveloped. Instead of amusement arcades and candyfloss, it is renowned for its scenic beauty, wildlife, outdoor recreation (particularly walking, cycling and sailing) and great local food and drink. It is an authentic place, where experiences are real. A landscape dominated by the sky, shaped by the power of wind and sea, it’s here within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB that the forces of nature are most apparent. Some parts of the coast are eroding quickly, while in other areas vast shingle beaches have built up – home to many rare and specialised plants and nesting sea-birds such as the nationally scarce little tern. Behind the shingle, shallow lagoons and large reedbeds can often be found, many protected as nature reserves in recognition of their special wildlife value.
The fact that the Suffolk coast is largely undeveloped is largely down to geography. The way we have settled and developed the landscape here has been significantly influenced by the five river estuaries in the AONB, the Blyth, Alde & Ore, Deben, Orwell and Stour. They have made transport and communications difficult here, adding to the sense of remoteness of the area, but also preventing the development of a major coastal road.
In places, landmarks break the skyline; church towers, lighthouses, coastguards' cottages and, dominating them all, Sizewell Nuclear Power Station. War too has left its mark on this landscape: Orford Castle, Napoleonic Martello Towers, pill boxes and gun emplacements and more recent military infrastructure, such as the cold-war Cobra Mist radar station on Orfordness, provide reminders of the area’s history. The quiet coastal towns and villages add much to the area’s unique appeal.
To find out more about the coast, its processes, tides and waves, wildlife and landscape why not download our Coastal Knowledge Factsheets.
What can be seen here...
Plants: sea campion, sea holly, yellow horned poppy, sea pea, sea kale.
Birds: little tern, ringed plover, stonechat, sand martin, avocet, lesser black-backed gull, linnet.
Other features: look out for Martello Towers, sentinels along the coast as far north as Aldeburgh and also other signs of the area’s military and maritime history