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Explore Suffolk during the Women's Tour

Follow the Women's Tour in Suffolk

 

Cycling at sunrise in Suffolk (c) Barney Moss

 

The world’s best female cycling event will set off again from Suffolk on Wednesday 13th June. The first stage of The OVO Energy Women’s Tour 2018 begins in the historic town of Framlingham (and Ed Sheeran’s ‘Castle on the Hill’). We explore the route taken by the professional cyclists through the Suffolk countryside, coast and through the county town of Ipswich. And, the good thing is, you don’t have to be a professional cyclist to enjoy what’s on offer (although, if you’re up for a challenge, you too can ride the 130 km!).

Here’s a list of the best things to experience on route, so choose your starting point and get exploring!

Historic Framlingham

You may recognise the quiet, yet quaint town from the television series The Detectorists. If you like your towns full of independent shops, with more than its fair share of historic notability, then look no further. Framlingham is a charming little gem, with its very own majestic castle, dating back to the 1100s. If you're keen to keep the kids entertained and be close to coast, then this is the town for you.

Stay for a night (or two!)
Start by checking in for the night at the charming Round House bed and breakfast. Arrive just before sunset and you’ll see this octagonal cottage in all its glory, its gardens awash with evening sunlight. Once you’re settled in, why not enjoy a glass of wine while relaxing in one of the Round House’s deckchairs, before making the two-minute walk into Framlingham town centre for dinner.

Where to eat
If you are not impressed by The Crown Hotel’s interior charm, the culinary delights on offer no doubt will do the job, making it the perfect pitstop for a light lunch or dog-friendly venue.

Things to do
After a delicious breakfast at the Round House, it’s time to explore Framlingham by day. Check out the unique Blacksmith’s Gallery, where you can see the work of traditional blacksmith John Ball, and Carley’s Yard, a treasure trove of vintage antiques and artworks, where you can hunt out a memento of your visit here. Finally, and perfect for families, pay a visit to historic Framlingham Castle, where Mary Tudor rallied her forces before marching to London to claim the throne. Walk the high-walled ramparts to get a real sense of the power it commanded in the 16th century, looking out across the Suffolk landscape.

Explore FramlinghamFramlingham Castle

Woodbridge on the River Deben

Woodbridge in Suffolk is a beautiful riverside town full of things to see and do. Discover deep connections to the water and some of the most important historical sites in the country, or simply soak up the atmosphere of this bustling market town.

A place to stay
The Crown Hotel, located on the main thoroughfare and just a few hundred metres from the River Deben, has ten boutique hotel rooms, a bustling bar and award-winning restaurant.

Where to eat
The hotel restaurant is recognised by the Michelin Guide, serving seasonal menus of modern classics and plenty of shellfish. However, if you’d prefer a change of scenery, The Table, just a few steps from the hotel, not only has a stylish outdoor courtyard in which to relax, the exquisite menu offers tasty light bites and sophisticated dinner options. Add a pre- or post-evening stroll around Woodbridge and watch the sunset over the bobbing boats.

Things to do
Woodbridge is not short of on-trend coffee hubs. Choose from Honey & Harvey serving deli-style, locally-sourced food or The Firestation and its selection of finely tuned coffees; both can be found on the main thoroughfare. If it’s a traditional English breakfast you’re after, you can't go far wrong with the The Ferry Quay Café next to the water’s edge and close to the railway station. This retro find is a big hit with the locals.

Not only does Woodbridge serve a healthy selection of independent cafés, its shopping offer is certainly impressive. Expect shops full of vintage knick-knacks, antiques, fashion, books and gifts. It’s also a bit of a hub for boutique and distinctive clothing for individuals who set their own fashion trends. Homespun and Fanny & Frank are definitely worth a browse (or purchase or two!).

Steeped in history, Woodbridge is a real joy to explore. Walk along the pathway of the River Deben with stunning views across the banks to Sutton Hoo, the site of a 7th century ship burial full of Anglo-Saxon treasure (a National Trust property), before discovering Woodbridge Tide Mill, located on the town’s quayside. This historic 800-year-old water mill still mills flour on certain days. Or simply soak up the atmosphere of this waterside town, accessible by train from London via Ipswich.

Woodbridge Suffolk (c) Rod EdwardsWoodbridge Tide Mill, on the River Deben

The waterfront town of Ipswich

Ipswich is England’s oldest continuously inhabited town. Crowned as East Anglia’s waterfront town, with a cutting-edge arts and culture scene, it is home to one of the largest collections of paintings by Constable and Gainsborough outside of London. Its food scene takes on a distinctively international flavour, with many eateries dotted throughout its centre and waterfront. Being a university town Ipswich has a distinctively youthful vibe, which is reflected in many of its cafes, shops and entertainment venues.

Where to stay
If it’s a room with a view you’re after, then The Salthouse Harbour Hotel on Ipswich’s quayside is a safe bet. By night, watch the lights shimmering on the water, and yachts and boats bobbing gently by the waterfront promenade, all with cocktail in hand.

Where to eat
You needn’t venture far for a great food experience. The hotel has pulled together a creative and well-considered menu, which comes highly recommended. But for something a little more adventurous and far-flung, the award-winning Aqua Eight near the Corn Exchange in the heart of the town centre holds its family recipes dear. Each dish is thoughtfully prepared with a fusion of flavours and spices from across China, Thailand and Indonesia, mixed with locally-sourced ingredients.

Things to do
Visit Christchurch Mansion and the Wolsey Art Gallery for the most significant collection of Constable and Gainsborough paintings and drawings outside of London. Ipswich Museum is filled with local Anglo-Saxon artefacts along with relics from Ancient Egypt and spectacular natural history exhibits.

Lovers of art and music won’t be disappointed. Ipswich boasts internationally-acclaimed dance, theatre and comedy. Two examples are DanceEast, host of some of the best dance companies from across the world and the New Wolsey Theatre, providing contemporary theatre and drama from both national touring shows and local drama groups. Modern art and popular design exhibitions can be seen in Ipswich Art Gallery.

Explore IpswichChristchurch Mansion at Christchurch Park, Ipswich

The best towns everywhere in between

Needham Market

Needham Market is the perfect pitstop for walkers and cyclists, with many local shops, pubs and restaurants, and a beautiful lake full of wildlife. The 15th century church is well worth a visit, which boasts one of the finest double-hammerbeam roofs in the country.

 

Stowmarket (near Stowupland)

Near Stowupland is the market town of Stowmarket. Hidden behind its traditional high street, the Museum of East Anglian Life is a museum spread across 80 acres of farmland full of exhibits from Suffolk’s agricultural past. Another must-visit in Stowmarket is the John Peel Centre, a creative arts hub founded in honour of the late radio DJ.

 

Debenham

Debenham in the heart of Suffolk is a place to unwind and watch the world go by. And the good thing is you can make your visit as long or as short as you please, depending on whether you decide to travel a well-worn, way-marked path around the town. First, head to the Swan House and Garden, which offers a treasure trove of curious antiques, 20th century decorations, rugs, garden furniture and lighting. After a good rummage, head to Vanilla Bake House. This intimate café will set you up for the rest of the day.
 
 

Halesworth & Blythburgh

The pretty market town of Halesworth is just 10 miles inland from the Suffolk coast and attracts an arty crowd. Not surprising with its rich cultural scene, including the New Cut Arts Centre and the Halesworth Arts Festival, later in the year.
 
Combine a trip to picturesque Blythburgh, with its views of the Blyth Estuary and marshes, and its association with the dark legend of the Black Shuck (a rather large black dog said to have clawed its way out of Blythburgh Church in 1577). Not tempted? RSPB Minsmere, the home of BBC Springwatch in 2016, is just up the road.

 

HalesworthThe market town of Halesworth

Southwold on the Suffolk coast

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. 

 

Places to stay
Having undergone a £6 million refurbishment, Adnam’s flagship property The Swan Southwold opened its doors in 2017. Elegant and contemporary, it has managed to maintain its cosiness whilst giving it a stylish upgrade. Travelling en masse? So Southwold’s charming portfolio includes perfect family getaways with spectacular sea-views to smart townhouses ready for a good group of friends.

 

Eat: there are too many to mention, so here’s our top 5
• Lord Nelson for Britain’s favourite dish: fish and chips
• Two Magpies for artisan coffee and tasty treats
• Black Olive Delicatessant for food on the go
• Sutherland House for fine dining
• Sole Bay Fish Co. for quayside views and seafood

 

Things to do
Well apart from all the stunning scenery synonymous with a stroll along the beach, Southwold has a number of quirky, yet interesting selection of things to keep you occupied. Here’s the most unusual...
 
The Under the Pier show on Southwold Pier is a curious arcade of home-made inventions including a ‘Micro-break’ (holiday in an armchair) and a selection of simulation rides.

Southwold Lighthouse, featured in the ever-popular CBeebies comedy Grandpa in My Pocket, is worth the climb. Open certain days.

Southwold Sailors’ Reading Room is a charming and useful hideaway from bad weather and a place to retreat for a spot of peace or reading, as the name suggests.

Rapidly becoming a household name, Southwold is home to one of the most modern breweries in the UK, and now a distillery too. Adnams of Southwold offer a selection of tours to discover how they create their award-winning beers and spirits. If the distinctive malty smell of brewing beer appeals, head to a ‘local’ for a pint or two!
Southwold PierSouthwold Pier and 'Under the Pier' experience

Explore more of our Suffolk towns and villages and things to do

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