Top ten things to do this Bank Holiday

SOUTHWOLD was this week voted the UK's most quintessential seaside resort, and the Suffolk coast has a lot to offer. For seasoned seasiders, or newcomers to our beautiful coastline, ALICE GIBBS picks out ten things you might like to do this summer.

SOUTHWOLD was this week voted the UK's most quintessential seaside resort, and the Suffolk coast has a lot to offer. For seasoned seasiders, or newcomers to our beautiful coastline, ALICE GIBBS picks out ten things you might like to do this summer.

FOR over 150 years, people have been enjoying the seaside of our best natural assets for holidays, short breaks and days out - but we often take our coast for granted.

From King's Lynn to Felixstowe, the coastline of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex offers some of the best days out in the country. All are within driving distance of our county which boasts a variety of beaches, clifftops and heathland.

Here's our top ten:

1 Suffolk Coast and Heaths Path

From the southern tip of Felixstowe to the eastern edges of Lowestoft, Suffolk's Heritage coast covers over 50 miles of largely undeveloped shoreline.

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Composed of a mixture of sweeping bays, crumbling sandy cliffs and ridged shingle beaches the area is a haven for wildlife and a preserver of the county's maritime history.

Designated as one of England's 41 Area's of Outstanding Natural Beauty, (AONB) the entire length can be explored on foot on the Suffolk Coast and Heath's Path.

The challenging distance takes in all the coast's scenic attractions, including the region's 17 remaining Martello towers built in defence against Napoleon in 1809.

The walk can be interceded with ferries, trains or buses and there are campsites and B&B's for those undertaking the long haul.

The landscape's secrets slowly reveal themselves with a spiritual beauty that has been inspirational to many artists, including Suffolk's best known poet George Crabbe.

2 Shingle Street

The raw, exposed stretch of Shingle Street formed at the entrance to the River Ore is an isolated gem to explore.

Naked to the elements, the small fishing hamlet is attractive to visitors seeking refreshing solitude by the sea.

The first buildings were constructed in 1810 and the white coastguard houses remain an outcrop on the rim of the shingle. This back to basics beach supports rich, important plant communities, including sea kale, sea pea and sea champion.

Strong offshore currents sculpt the undulating shingle sonorously, creating a dynamic shore line to walk along.

Famous for its remote wind-swept landscape it is also the site of one of Suffolk's most enduring mysteries. In August 1940 some locals claim to have witnessed a failed invasion attempt of the Germany army and although government records remain secret, rumours still persist across the echoing waves.

Whether it is to follow conspiracies or hunt for precious gem amber nestled among the stones, this unspoilt, timeless beach is worth a visit.

3 Coastal village of Orford

Perhaps one of the most charming and idyllic of all places in Suffolk, Orford has something to please any visitor.

Once a thriving port, it was cut off from the sea by the steadily growing spit at Orford Ness, yet the river remains to empower yachts and pleasure craft during summer.

The ruin of one of the most important castles in medieval England dominates the scenery, although it is only the keep of the original building which still stands.

Commissioned in 1165 by Henry II, the 90 foot high walls offer stunning panoramic views from the top over the surrounding lowland and to the sea.

In addition to traditional craft and food shops are the popular smokehouses which cure a wide range of meats, game, poultry and fish.

The delicious moist succulence of the food is achieved by using pure salt and oak wood during the long, slow smoking process.

4 Dunwich Cliffs

It is difficult to believe that the small village of Dunwich was once the capital of East Anglia.

What is fascinating about Dunwich's infrastructure is not what is there today, but what has been removed by the eroding sea.

Once a thriving, bustling city and home to an impressive fleet of royal ships, it is now a secluded hamlet.

In 1286, a storm blocked the entrance to the harbour crippling the merchant trade, fishermen and ship building industries. The slumping sand and clay cliffs were eaten away by the relentless sea, destroying over 400 houses in the fourteenth century alone.

Ancient monastic ruins perch on the slippery cliffs, a shoreline which has moved over 500m inland in the last five hundred years.

Today the village museum tells the social story of the lost city and on rough days locals say a walk along the beach can be haunted by the sound of the submerged church bells toiling under the waves as they shift in the currents.

Visitors to Dunwich Heath can now view sea life they have never seen before, from the warmth and comfort of the Sea Watch Centre.

High powered observation binoculars and telescopes installed in lookout stations provide an unparalleled opportunity to view sea mammals from land as they feed and play around Sole Bay.

Animals you can expect to see range from seals, porpoises, dolphins and whales as well as a variety of magnificent sea birds.

5 Fish and Chips at Aldeburgh

Light crisp batter, meltingly good cod and a mountain of real chips washed down with a pint of Adnams.

If you like the taste of salt in the air as well as on your fish and chips then a trip to Suffolk's famously beautiful seaside town of Aldeburgh is a must.

The fish and chip shop situated at the end of the High Street was recently voted number one in a national survey of top ten chippies (this magazine also voted it tops after an exhaustive survey two year's ago!), and the Golden Galleon tastes is as tantalising.

Walk along the pastel candy coloured strand or stretch out on a warm seaside bench with an open dinner.

If you prefer to cook your own tea, Aldeburgh's beach is studded with fresh fish huts selling a wide range of seafood caught the same day.

6 The Meare

The unique, fairytale like seaside village of Thorpeness was created by the Scottish architect, playwright and barrister Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie in the early 1900's.

Inspired by the writings of J.M Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, Ogilvie created a fashionable resort of cottages around the artificial yet enchanting Meare lake which was made by flooding open fields.

Small dinghies and canoes are available to row around the atmospheric lake's 65 acres of shallow waters, exploring the tranquil island home to the Wendy House or feeding the ducks and swans.

Cream teas are a specialty of the Meare tea room set adjacent to the lake and only 100 yards from the seashore.

Situated a pebble's throw from the pleasurable Meare lake at Thorpeness is the unusual but aptly named, House in the Clouds.

Finding the water tower needed to support the resort was an eye sore, Ogilvie disguised the five storey building as a quaint secluded house high in the sky. Today the house is rented out as holiday accommodation, but the name coined by one of its first residents, a children's author, has remained.

As the village grew another water tower was needed and this one was disguised as a Norman tower over an arch with mock Tudor houses around it which gives the village a charming aspect and rustic ambiance.


The Magic Ear

Discover the heart of Suffolk's elemental role in winning the Battle of Britain at Bawdsey Radar Station.

Constructed in 1937, the Transmitter Block now presents The Magic Ear Exhibition which displays the evolution of technology and the story of an institution which helped win the Second World War.

Bawdsey continued in operational RAF service until 1991 and the Grade II listed transmitter blocks, receiver blocks and underground bunkers remain to fascinate investigative visitors.

As the site is restored and developed the Bawdsey Radar Group hope to raise one of the radar transmitter towers which defended the country so effectively.

8 Golf

Golf has been played at Felixstowe for over 120 years and in 1880 the club was established at Felixstowe Ferry, now in the old part of the town.

The 18 hole Martello course is one of the oldest in England and situated a few metres from the Deben Estuary and

North Sea.

Strong offshore winds make the course more difficult than expected, but visitors of all abilities are welcome during the week to practice their golf.

Adjacent to the course are the idyllic Ferry Boat Inn and deliciously fresh fish huts selling a wide range locally caught produce.


Sea Blast at Southwold

The Coastal Voyager is a new, modern experience for the sea faring tourist in Sole Bay.

The 9 metre rigid inflatable with its deep V-hull is equipped with wrap-round seats, lifejackets and seat-belts for 12 people and has the flexibility to undertake a variety of roles.

Smooth and comfortable rides take passengers as far as Scroby Sands to visit the seals or further still into the River Alde for an excursion to Orford.

Alternatively, the most popular trip is the thirty minute exhilarating high speed Sea Blast out to sea off Southwold in which the formidable power of the Voyager's two 200hp Mercury Optimax outboards are put through their paces.

Nothing says a trip to the seaside than a leisurely stroll down the promenade of an award-winning pier.

When it reopened in 2002, a hundred years after the original was completed, Southwold pier's astonishing 623 feet of new and improved attractions was full of promise for a fun day on the coast and it has not disappointed.

Rising 100 feet above the town stands the protector of Southwold, a picturesque and fully functional Lighthouse. Originally built in 1890, this pillar of light continues to this day to warn ships as far as 17 miles across the bay, guiding boats making for Southwold Harbour.

Visitors can navigate the 112 steps that spiral towards the beaming beacon's white light which harnesses the intensity of over 17,000 candelas, providing a vital waymark for vessels along the Suffolk Coast.

10 Crabbing

On a hot summer's day the coast at Walberswick is perfect for a friendly competition of crabbing.

With more than 50 species of crab to be found in British waters the search for the largest specimen, which can weigh more than 6kg is an old tradition.

The area has become so renowned for this speciality the village annually hosts The British Open Crabbing Championship which raises funds for charitable causes.


Versions of this article and quiz first appeared in Let's Talk and Suffolk magazine. The September issues are in shops now .


See Saturday's Evening Star for James Marston's foot ferry trip from Felixstowe to find out what Harwich has to offer.