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The Women's Tour Stage One QOM winner 2015 (c) SweetSpot

WATCH THE WOMEN'S TOUR IN SUFFOLK

On Wednesday 15th June, just as the sun begins to rise over the Suffolk Coast, the world’s best female cyclists will be pulling on their team jerseys and silently preparing themselves for a career-defining race. By 9am, a crowd will have formed on the iconic Southwold Pier, awaiting with anticipation the sound of the starting gun that will set in motion the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour: a 5-day race across 7 counties, beginning with a bang in Suffolk.
 
For sports lovers everywhere, it’ll be an unforgettable spectacle.
The Women's Tour 2015 in Suffolk (c) SweetSpotThe AVIVA Women's Tour returns to Suffolk on June 15th
Photo (c) SweetSpot

THE ROUTE

Stage One of the Aviva Women’s Tour begins in Southwold and follows a route through the picturesque coast and countryside of northeast Suffolk, through Blythburgh, Halesworth, Lowestoft, Beccles, Bungay, and a handful of charming Suffolk villages, before finishing in Norfolk. At each point along the way, spectators will gather on the sidelines to watch the peloton pass; if you’re planning to be one of them, here’s what you need to know:

Southwold – Race Starts 9:45am

It’s hard to overstate the charm of this Suffolk Coast town, with its pier, beach cafes, pubs and independent shops. Southwold feels quintessentially British: it’s artistic, off-beat and friendly, the kind of place where shopkeepers learn your name. It’s also a foodie treasure-trove, with delicious bakeries, delis and cafés on every street, not to mention the Adnams Sole Bay Brewery churning out malty steam clouds on a daily basis. Our advice? Get up early and grab a good spot to watch the Women’s Tour depart, then spend the day on the beach, before lunch at one of Southwold's fabulous food joints.

Blythburgh – 10:02am

This village on the River Blyth boasts spectacular coastal views of the Blyth Estuary and marshes, while its imposing church, known locally as the Cathedral of the Marshes, is associated with the dark legend of Black Shuck. Watch the peloton fly by at around 10am, then head towards Dunwich Heath for a walk through the heather blooms, or on to RSPB Minsmere to discover birds and wildlife in abundance.

Halesworth – 10:17am

Halesworth is a pretty market town with a rich cultural seam of theatre and performing arts. We suggest watching the riders race through the town centre, then spending the day admiring Halesworth’s historic buildings, browsing the unique shops on its Thoroughfare, and paying a visit to the New Cut Arts Centre.

Lowestoft – 11:00am

Boasting huge, sandy, blue-flag beaches, Lowestoft is the place to be for fun in the sun, whether that be bodyboarding in the gentle surf, sandcastle building or playing volleyball. It’s also next to Oulton Broad, an open water gateway to the Suffolk Broads, and the ideal starting point for a boating adventure. On June 15th, why not take your place on Lowestoft’s South Parade and watch the riders stream past, before heading back to the beach for a spot of sunbathing before a seaside lunch?

BECCLES

Beccles is a market town with a difference: running through its centre is the beautiful River Waveney, a wildlife haven lined with houseboats where you can watch the world float by. For boating, canoeing and nature watching, Beccles is an ideal base, so once you’ve cheered on the peloton as it passes through the town centre, why not rent yourself a boat and set off on a watery adventure?

BUNGAY

From Beccles, the Women’s Tour route takes the riders parallel to the River Waveney through rich Suffolk countryside, and on into Bungay. Like Beccles, Bungay is an idyllic spot for canoeing, and drifting quietly down the river through dappled shade on a summer’s day is one of the greatest pleasures the town has to offer. After the adrenaline of watching the world’s best female cyclists race past, we recommend relaxing with a cream tea in one of Bungay’s quaint cafés before exploring the River Waveney on foot or by canoe.
 
The Suffolk section of Stage One of the AVIVA Women’s Tour is a total of 45 miles long, and as well as the towns above it takes in several beautiful Suffolk villages, including Thorington, Brampton, Shadinfield, Hulver, Flixton and Homersfield. For full details of the route and arrival times, click here.
Children in Aldeburgh Suffolk welcome the Women's Tour 2015Crowds of Suffolk children awaiting the Women's Tour peloton in 2015
Photo (c) SweetSpot

PLACES TO EAT

SOUTHWOLD

The Lord Nelson Pub
Delicious pub grub served right by the sea, with Adnams ale on tap.

The Crown Hotel
Twice awarded Suffolk Dining Pub of the Year by the Good Food Guide, this is the place to come for gourmet pub food.

Two Magpies Bakery
One of many superb little delis and bakeries in Suffolk, the tiny Two Magpies Bakery offers sweet treats, tea and coffee, fresh handmade bread, pastries, and stone-baked pizzas.

Adams Cellar & Kitchen Café
Stop here for coffee, cake, sandwiches and rustic lunches, and pick up a bottle of Adnams on your way out!

BECCLES

The Wherry Inn
A traditional country pub situated in the picturesque village of Geldeston, four miles from Beccles on the River Waveney.

BUNGAY

Stop for coffee, lunch or afternoon tea at this spectacular moated brewery in South Elmham near Bungay, and sample some of Suffolk’s most delicious ales.
St Peter's Brewery – the Suffolk beer guideStop for a post-race lunch at St Peter's Brewery near Bungay
Photo (c) St Peter's Brewery

THINGS TO DO

Southwold Pier

Don’t miss Southwold’s famous Pier, with its cafés, restaurants, shops, and one-of-a-kind arcade games designed by inventor Tim Hunkin.

RSPB Minsmere, Dunwich
Pay a visit to one of the most famous nature reserves in the country and spot avocets, bitterns, marsh harriers and majestic red deer.

Angels & Pinnacles Churches
Explore the churches of northeast Suffolk with an Angels & Pinnacles guide (you can download the Southwold Trail of four churches here). 

Africa Alive!, Kessingland
Meet and learn about the beasts of the African Savannah at this wildlife park near Lowestoft.

The Canoe Man, Beccles
Plan a canoe or kayak adventure with The Canoe Man in Beccles, following anything from a half-day trail to a 3-night canoe and bushcraft experience.

Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum, Flixton
Be amazed by the vast collection of planes and flying machines at this free museum in Flixton.

Sunrise over Southwold Pier in Suffolk (c) Martin PettittThe Women's Tour 2016 starts at Southwold's famous Pier
Photo (c) Martin Pettitt

PLACES TO STAY

HOTELS

The Swan Hotel, Southwold

HOLIDAY COTTAGES

BED & BREAKFASTS

SELF–CATERING

TOURING & CAMPING

PUBS & INNS

WILL YOU BE WATCHING THE WOMEN'S TOUR IN SUFFOLK?

If you're coming to Suffolk to watch the 2016 Women's Tour, get in touch with your photos and experiences via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!