Green Travel Guide to Suffolk Coast & Heaths
Words by Juliette Dyke.
Artwork for Green Traveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards.
Foreword by Catherine Smith,
Funding Officer, Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB
The Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is an outstanding landscape, located on the most eastern coast of England and a short train ride away from London. The area has long attracted visitors – both the human and migratory kind! There are large numbers of migratory wildfowl to be seen, most notably at the RSPB reserves including Minsmere, and other visitors include Stone-curlews and Wheatear. These join nature’s residents such as Red Deer, bitterns, avocets and little egrets.
Human visitors also make their way here, and the Heritage Coast towns of Aldeburgh, Orford and Southwold began enticing visitors from before Victorian times to “take in” the waters and fresh air. With them and after came a very wide range of development throughout the area, such as accommodation, piers, walks, restaurants and an appreciation of the special-ness of the landscape and the need to care for it. Despite the millions of visitors the area receives it always feels tranquil; a place where you can get away from the bustle. Now people come for great bird watching not just at RSPB Minsmere but also along the five esturies, and to relax in or be energetic around the easy-going towns and villages on the coast.
Many artists come to the area to capture its unique beauty, from JMW Turner, Charles Dickens and Benjamin Britten, to George Ewart Evans and Maggi Hambling and Blake Morrison. Many stayed on, and the cultural landscape of the area is now dotted with numerous festivals of music, literature, food and art.
Nature is on your doorstep in the Suffolk Coast & Heaths and the landscape is here for all to enjoy. Our visitor businesses and organisations, such as The Suffolk Coast, understand how much being part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty helps them maintain their attractiveness to visitors, and those that become AONB Supporters fund community conservation projects to keep the area special for years to come!
We believe that visitors who feel ‘like a local’ will show more respect for this environment and contribute to its upkeep. To welcome you to the coast we encourage you to meet up with a Suffolk Coast Greeter for a personal (and free!) wander with a volunteer who knows and loves the area and who wants to share their passion for their favourite topics such as heritage and wildlife (book in advance).
Alternatively you can join in a Suffolk Coast Conservation Holiday, run by Wild Days Conservation. These are enjoyable wildlife conservation and research holidays for people who work hard and possibly get muddy into the bargain!
It’s not hard to understand why the area is so attractive to visitors, many returning over and over again. I moved to Suffolk ‘temporarily’ over twenty years ago… maybe it’s the people, the culture or undoubtedly it’s the scenery, but I haven’t left yet!
What Green Traveller's writers discovered in Suffolk Coast and Heaths
A source of inspiration to countless artists, writers and musicians, this unspoilt 155-square mile stretch of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths is a landscape of subtle contrasts, combining shingle beaches, crumbling cliffs, wild heathland, forests, estuaries and rolling farmland. This stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, packed with history and culture, maintains a tranquil and laid-back atmosphere that makes any visit here a pleasure. Those who come to appreciate the area’s natural charms will find a range of wonderful places to stay, from lavish four star hotels to cosy B&Bs and luxury yurts, as well as cafes and inns serving delicious locally sourced food.
Stay, Eat, See & Do
Our pick of places across Suffolk Coast and Heaths
Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay; Blue = Places to eat; Yellow = Attractions; Purple = Activities
Click on the square brackets top right of map to reveal expanded map
Map supplied by the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB
30% of the AONB is registered as Sites of Special Scientific Interest and is nationally protected
There are approx. 300km of marked routes through some of Suffolk's best scenery
The AONB has five river estuaries making it a rich haven for sailing and wildfowl
25% of the AONB is registered as Special Protection Area
Uniquely, there are three long-distance footpaths in this one AONB - the Stour & Orwell Path, Sandlings Path and the Suffolk Coast Path
16% of the AONB is classed as Wetlands of International Significance