Relics and reminders from Suffolk’s long history have, over time, become part of the landscape. The burial mounds at Sutton Hoo which date back to the 6th Century and the unique polygonal tower of Orford Castle built in the 12th Century demonstrate how the past influenced the landscape.
There is significant religious heritage that can be seen in the ruins of Greyfriars Priory, in the unique thatched roof of St Peter’s Church in Westleton and in the classical Georgian towers at Mistley.
Our Top Heritage Things to See:
Places to Visit
The AONB has a huge range of things to see and do, from getting up close to the famous Suffolk Punch horse to staying in House in the Clouds in Thorpeness. Dunwich Museum reveals the history of the city under the sea, while Landguard Fort, Bawdsey Radar Museum and HMS Ganges Museum all look at the area’s military history.
There is an opportunity to see how local food and drink is produced such as flour at the Woodbridge Tide Mill or beer and gin at the Adnams Brewery Tour. The vast coastline and estuaries provide an opportunity to explore the area by boat, with not only several foot ferries but also tour operators that offer pleasure trips on the rivers.
Our helpful visitor destination organisation, The Suffolk Coast, is an ideal start for exploring even more.
Our Top Places to See:
One of England’s best-preserved coastal defences surrounded by the Landguard National Nature Reserve in Felixstowe. Visitors to the fort can learn about its history and enjoy re-enactments.
One of the first tide mills in the country is still working on the same site well over 800 years later. Visitors will not only discover how the flour is made but can buy a sample to take home.
Following an investment in 2016, visitors to the museum can now enjoy an award-winning exhibition about the development and use of radar from the 1930’s, through WWII to the present day.
For locals and visitors alike walking is one of the most popular pastimes in the AONB and there are several long-distance paths and numerous footpaths to choose from.
Whatever the distance, walkers can see unique landscapes including shingle beaches, heathland, saltmarshes and forest and see the species that live there. The AONB website has over thirty walking guides that are free to download.
Our Top Walks:
Long Distance Walks
Enjoy the challenge of a longer walk over several days, on the Suffolk Coast Path, Sandlings Walk and Stour & Orwell Walk.
The Suffolk Coast &Heaths AONB has a rich and varied cultural heritage. Aldeburgh and Snape are world-renowned for their close links to 20th Century composer Benjamin Britten and the annual Aldeburgh Festival is now in its 74th year.
Other festivals include: literary festivals such as Way with Words at Southwold, and the music festival Latitude, which has been attracting some of the biggest names in rock and pop since 2006.
At Snape Maltings there is an opportunity to enjoy sculptures by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Alison Wilding, while Maggi Hambling’s Scallop sculpture can be found on the beach at Aldeburgh.
Our Top Cultural Activities:
Installed on Aldeburgh beach in 2003, ‘The Scallop’ commemorates composer Benjamin Britten and displays a quote from Britten’s Peter Grimes ‘I hear those voices that will not be drowned’.
One of the most popular seaside towns in Suffolk and well known for its links to composer Benjamin Britten. You can visit his home The Red House which is famous for their great fish and chips!
There are numerous ways to get active in the AONB. You can explore the area by bike or visit Tunstall and Rendlesham Forests which both have dedicated trails for families and advanced mountain bikers. There are canoes and paddleboards available to hire at several beach locations as well as great spots for crabbing.
Every year, the AONB takes part in the Great British Beach Clean which is a great way for people to help in the effort to improve the local environment.
Our Top Leisure Activities
There are lots of ways to support your local environment but a popular way to get started is to join the annual Great British Beach Clean which takes place between 18-21 September 2020.
Tucked between Tunstall and Blaxhall Commons, the forest is home to many ground nesting birds including Nightjar and Woodlark. There is also the Viking Trail – a 10-mile advanced mountain biking route.
Suffolk is a very dog friendly county and there are fantastic walks for dogs. While some beaches restrict dogs in the summer months, many are open. The AONB encourages owners to take responsibility for reducing dog disturbance of wildlife.
Landscape and Nature
Without doubt, the scenic beauty of the AONB makes it a unique place to live and to visit. Central to this is connecting with nature and being close to so many different and rare habitats including estuaries, reed beds, saltmarshes and shingle.
Enjoyment with respect is our advice. Many rare birds make the AONB their home including the woodlark, nightjar and Dartford warbler while others such as the Redshank and Oystercatcher come for the breeding season. Other threatened species such as the silver-studded blue – the UK’s rarestbutterfly can also be found in the patchwork of ancient heathland.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn more about the plants, animals and birds in the AONB by visiting nature reserves managed by the RSPB, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and National Trust.
Our Top Natural Places
A Site of Special Scientific Interest covers the River Deben and its banks, along the 16 kilometres from its mouth at Felixstowe Ferry to Woodbridge, home to 40% of Suffolk’s saltmarshes.
Numerous nature reserves are owned by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, who manage almost 8,000 acres of unique habitats and support threatened species such as dormouse, hedgehog, swift, water vole and lapwing.
The RSPB has several reserves across the AONB providing an opportunity to visitors to learn more about the different habitats and glimpse some of the incredible bird species that live, breed and feed in Suffolk.
One of several National Trust reserves at Dunwich you can follow the family wildlife trails and learn about the different species who live and breed on the heathland. There are also accessible routes for wheelchairs and pushchairs.