Suffolk is a county with huge historic significance. Its North Sea coast is rugged and untamed in places and picture-postcard perfect in others with its miles of golden sand. Castles and rivers, grand estates and enchanting woodlands all provide ideal places to escape and explore for free. Here’s 12.
1. A midnight walk through a medieval village
Medieval Lavenham is right in the heart of Suffolk. It’s a small village which packs a powerful cultural punch. Building its wealth on wool, it was once the third-richest place in the UK. While there’s lots to do in Lavenham, and its businesses provide top-notch bars, restaurants, and hotels fit for a king, why not explore it while its residents sleep by walking the cobbles on a midnight date?
2. Find fairies at an Italian mansion
While much of historic Suffolk’s architecture can be traced to the Normans and Anglo-Saxons, Ickworth House’s architecture is Italian by design. This opulent mansion is set in miles of impressive mature gardens and parkland where cycling and walking trails will lead you through magical woodlands. It’s rumoured that fairies live and play here.
3. Explore a dramatic coastline
The National Trust describes Dunwich Heath as a rare and precious habitat. They also say that it’s wild and dramatic. It’s all of these and more. Tucked-away sand dunes offer shelter from the North Sea breeze, while the spectacular seascape fuels conversation about the natural world. Sea air, endless miles of sandy beach and great company should be the ideal ingredients for a perfect date.
4. Find love in a famous landscape
John Constable was one of the most famous painters in the world, and his works commanded prices most of us only dream of. But you don’t need to own a Constable to see what he saw when he made this romantic landscape immortal through his paintings. A date on the banks of the River Stowe will lead you to the exact spot he perched on with his easel and brushes.
5. Discover an Anglo-Saxon ship and a UFO landing site
Sutton Hoo at Woodbridge will provide you with an excellent date combination. Here, you’ll experience riverside walks and take in the sites surrounding an Anglo-Saxon ship burial ground. Though only the mounds are visible, and the National Trust exhibition and trails require you to pay an entrance fee, research it first and allow your imagination to run wild. Nearby Rendlesham Forest was once said to be a UFO landing site.
6. Learn about the UK’s unique amber
The Amber Museum offers an unforgettable journey through the history of locally-sourced amber. Impressive carvings, jewellery and other artefacts are great examples of why it became such a valuable commodity. This region on the south-east coast is where the unique deposits of UK amber have all been found. While jewellers’ price tags might be a little out of reach, there’s no reason why you and your date can’t hit the beach in search of your own precious stones.
7. A date at Halesworth Gallery
Renowned for showcasing local talent, Halesworth Gallery has various exhibitions throughout the year, usually including works by local artisans and more well-known artists. Suffolk has a long history of producing fine arts and crafts. What better way is there to understand a culture than life depicted through art?
8. Stroll through seafront gardens
Felixstowe Seafront Gardens underwent major regeneration work in 2015, providing a perfect habitat for both wildlife and people. The 1920s design will transport you back to its heyday, with plenty of spots to cosy up on a bench and talk sweet nothings or chat about the pretty flowerbeds.
9. Get the lowdown on Lowestoft
Lowestoft Heritage Centre is where you can learn everything about this intriguing place and its lost village. Dubbed as prime location for a traditional British holiday, Lowestoft has a lovely, wide, sandy beach, cliff-top lighthouse, and a signature ornate pier.
10. Get swept away at an old lifeboat shed
The former Old Cromer Lifeboat Shed is now the site of the Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum. Named after Southwold’s lifeboat No1, the Alfred Corry, the museum portrays a fascinating tale about the important role lifeboats played, their crews risking their own lives day in and day out to save the lives of sailors and fisherman from their sunken vessels. Stories about bravery and valour, though undeniably sad, often spark romance.
11. Sunset, sailboats and sandpipers
The Broads are home to one of the largest inland waterways in the UK, making it a playground for boat enthusiasts. Categorised as a national park, its wetlands have been protected and conserved for over 30 years. Whether you love nature or the sea, a date on The Broads offers a chance to see rare wildlife and watch sailboats dance across the horizon at sunset.
12. A riverside lunch with a castle backdrop
Framlingham is a historic market town with links to royalty. In the centre of the village, you’ll find two of the oldest working post office pillar boxes, now a rare sight outside these quaint locations. But a trip to this idyllic countryside setting wouldn’t be complete without seeing its castle. Framlingham Castle is an old Anglo-Saxon fortress, and it was here that Mary Tudor became Queen Mary of England. Views are best appreciated from across the river, a lovely place for a lunch date.
Image Source: Lavenham via discoverlavenham.com; Ickworth House via artfund.org; Dunwich via nationaltrust.org.uk; River Stowe via gettyimages.com; Sutton Hoo via nationaltrust.org.uk; Amber Museum via nationalgeographic.com; Halesworth Gallery via foyers.photography; Felixstowe via thesuffolkcoast.co.uk; Lowestoft Beach via coes.co.uk; Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum via eadt.co.uk; The Broads via broads-authority.gov.uk; Framlingham Castle via english-heritage.org.uk.
Featured photo credit: Unknown via thesuffolkcoast.co.uk