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Pin Mill (c) John Fielding

LIFE ON SHOTLEY PENINSULA

The Shotley Peninsula is a small stretch of land between two great Suffolk rivers, the Orwell and the Stour. Situated where the two rivers join and flow out to sea, Shotley Peninsula is surrounded by water on three sides, while its flat, rural landscape opens up to an enormous sky above, a vast stage upon which theatrical sunrises and sunsets play out on a daily basis. In short, it’s one of the most picturesque – and underrated – places in Suffolk.
The Butt & Oyster InnEnjoy the relaxed pace of life on Shotley Peninsula
Photo (c) The Butt & Oyster Inn

BOATING ON THE SHOTLEY PENINSULA

With a river either side and the sea in front, Shotley Peninsula is a boater’s paradise. It was used as the setting for Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s book, “We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea,” and the charm of Ransome’s Shotley has not faded: pretty sailing boats are moored up and down the coast of Shotley Peninsula, reminiscent of a bygone era of boat travel, the daily catch, and long summer days.
 
On the northern side of Shotley Peninsula is the River Orwell, a navigable waterway with mudflats that during the winter are crowded with beautiful birds. It’s well worth booking a boat trip up the Orwell, or even renting a boat to explore yourself; you’ll soon get a sense of why local writer Eric Arthur Blair loved the river so much he took it as half of his pen name, George Orwell.
Orwell Bridge (c) Martin PettittThe River Orwell runs to the north of Shotley Peninsula
Photo (c) Martin Pettitt
To the south of Shotley Peninsula is the River Stour, which if followed will take you right to the heart of Constable Country: the verdant, historic landscape that bore the painter John Constable, and was the subject of his most famous painting, The Hay Wain. You can travel up the Stour on a river cruise, or rent your own boat for complete freedom.
 
The Stour and Orwell meet at Shotley Marina, a departure point for anyone exploring the two rivers or venturing across to the continent. At Shotley Marina you can watch from a distance as impressive freight ships steam in and out Felixstowe Harbour, or visit the HMS Ganges Museum, which documents the history of Shotley Peninsula and the Naval training base established there until 1976.
 
And if you’re not quite ready for navigating rivers or sailing the high seas, why not try watersports such as sailing and kayaking at Alton Water, a large reservoir on the Shotley Peninsula that’s surrounded by beautiful scenery?
Stutton (c) Tim WheelerShotley Peninsula offers up amazing scenery at every turn
Photo (c) Tim Wheeler

WALKING AND CYCLING ON SHOTLEY PENINSULA

Shotley Peninsula’s flat, tranquil landscape makes it an idyllic place to go walking or spend a gentle day on your bike. There are lots of well-marked walking and cycling trails that can take you across the peninsula from river to river, or around the coast through the charming fishing villages and hamlets than line Shotley Peninsula’s shores.
 

EXPLORING SHOTLEY PENINSULA’S HAMLETS & VILLAGES

The unique charm of Shotley Peninsula cannot be understated, and it has a lot to do with the villages and hamlets dotted along its coast. While exploring these villages is a must, it’s important to let go and sink into the relaxed pace of life on Shotley Peninsula, which is a million miles away from the rush and stress of the city (precisely why we like it).

PIN MILL

A great way to do this is by taking a pew in the sun at one of Shotley Peninsula’s many riverside pubs, such as the 16th century Butt & Oyster Inn at Pin Mill, where you can watch boats sail up and down the River Orwell while eating a pub lunch of fresh seafood or Suffolk-reared steak, washed down with a pint of local Adnams ale.
 
Pin Mill is undoubtedly one of the prettiest spots on the Shotley Peninsula, being surrounded by river views and National Trust Woodland. A stone’s throw from the Butt & Oyster is Pin Mill Studio, a photography studio and arts space (dogs and wellies welcome) that offers pre-booked one-day photography courses, not to mention a decent range of ice creams, fishing nets and homemade cakes.
The Butt & Oyster Inn at Pin MillRelax with a pint of Adnams ale at the Butt & Oyster Inn in Pin Mill
Photo (c) The Butt & Oyster Inn

WHERSTEAD

A few kilometers northwest of Pin Mill is Wherstead, a village leading down to the banks of the River Orwell and offering stunning views of the Orwell Bridge. It’s here that you’ll find the Suffolk Food Hall, officially the Best Local Food Venue in the UK, and a packed larder of Suffolk’s culinary produce. Downstairs you can explore the 8,000 square foot farmers market; upstairs is the Cookhouse, a restaurant whose menu is almost wholly composed of local produce, making it a worthy winner of the best on-farm restaurant in Britain.
Wherstead Church (c) Hugh Bothwell Watercolours

Wherstead's charming church captured in watercolours
Photo (c) Hugh Bothwell Watercolours

FRESTON

Also on Shotley Peninsula’s northern coast is Freston, famous for its remarkable six-storey tower. Although it’s unknown who built this Victorian folly (now a rentable holiday home), legend has it that it was built by Lord de Freston for his daughter, who would study a different subject on each floor. We say it’s one of 11 places in Suffolk fit for a Bond villain.
Freston Tower © David Parker / vividmind.ukMarvel at the folly of Freston Tower
Photo (c) David Parker / vividmind.uk

HOLBROOK

On the southern side of Shotley Peninsula is Holbrook, a small village with two popular pubs and a sandy bay created by the River Stour. Situated next to Alton Water, Holbrook is a great place to begin a circular walk around the reservoir, through the villages of Tattingstone and Stutton, and down to the bay. It’s also close to the Royal Hospital School, a striking building worth a visit for lovers of architecture.
The Royal Hospital School (c) Colin PatonThe Royal Hospital School beyond Holbrook Creek
Photo (c) Colin Paton

TATTINGSTONE

Tattingstone is a village also situated on the Alton Water reservoir, amid captivating Suffolk countryside. Full of villagey charm, Tattingstone’s idiosyncrasies include the ‘Tattingstone Wonder,’ a 17th century folly of a mock church tower built for local squire Edward White to give his neighbours “something to wonder at.”

STUTTON

Between Holbrook and Tattingstone is Stutton, a village with pretty almshouses, leafy lanes and a volunteer-run community shop where it’s not uncommon to see horses tethered up outside while their owners do their grocery shopping. Positioned between Alton Water and Holbrook Bay, Stutton is an ideal pitstop after a long walk or morning windsurfing on the reservoir.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

Shotley Peninsula is well connected to Ipswich, Suffolk’s county town and the home of many popular attractions, such as Jimmy’s Farm, a working farm with nature trails, family activities and a farm restaurant. Ipswich is also a cultural hotspot, with the iconic DanceEast dance house, New Wolsey Theatre and Red Rose Chain Theatre, Ipswich Transport Museum and art-filled Christchurch Mansion all within or near the town centre.

ENCHANTED BY SHOTLEY PENINSULA?

If the Shotley Peninsula has sparked your wanderlust, we would love to hear about your adventures there via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?