Official Visitor Website

10 Ways to Escape the Everyday in the Heart of Suffolk

When you visit the Heart of Suffolk you can take a step into a different pace of life.  It doesnt have to be all relaxing though, there are lots of ways to get the adrenaline pumping so you can keep up that healthy ‘lockdown’ lifestyle. The air here is fresh, there are plenty of open spaces and the views are quite breathtaking.  Whilst touring around you will discover hidden gems nestled away in the countryside and iconic wool towns, with something for everyone to enjoy, along with delicious local food and drink being served around every corner.

family with pizza at the Suffolk EscapeEscape the everyday at the aptly named Suffolk Escape

1. Historic houses and glorious gardens

Kentwell Hall is a moated, Tudor house with an array of magic kept up its sleeve.  It is not just the architecture that make this house so stunning but the gardens, re-enactment events and hidden trails that give it so much character.

Nearby, still in the village of Long Melford, is the National Trust’s Melford Hall.  The house is now the family home of the Hyde Parkers but over five hundred years ago the estate was owned by the Abbots of St. Edmundsbury.  The gardens can be enjoyed throughout the spring and summer months.

Other gardens in the heart of Suffolk include Helmingham Hall Gardens. These Grade 1 listed gardens were redesigned by Lady Tollemache (a Chelsea Gold Medallist).  The house (not open to the public) is set in 400 acres of parkland where visitors can often get a glimpse of the herds of red and fallow deer living in the wild.

Helmingham Hall and moatHelmingham Hall Gardens

2. Enjoy time with friends and at Weavers House Spa

A spa day or break with friends or family is a wonderful way to relax, catch up and restore the balance.  Suffolk has some wonderful spas to do just this and the Weavers’ House in the medieval village of Lavenham offers everything you need for that special escape.
ladies in spa poolWeavers House Spa in Lavenham

3. Discover the story of what we eat at The Food Museum

The Food Museum is a hidden gem in the market town of Stowmarket.  This 75 acre museum depicts the rural life of days gone by in East Anglia.  When walking along the trails through the museum, you will see a varied collection of buildings including a windpump, chapel and blacksmiths’ forge.

vintage tractor at Museum of East Anglian LifeSpend a day at The Food Museum

4. Explore the Suffolk Wool Towns

Suffolk Wool Towns are some of the best-preserved historic towns and prettiest villages in Suffolk. Lavenham, Long Melford, Hadleigh and Clare all come under the banner and exploring them feels like stepping back in time to the 15th century, when the wool trade was at its peak.  During this time, the Suffolk Wool Towns were among the richest places in the country which can be seen in the majestic churches and other buildings.

village sceneClare – one of the Suffolk Wool towns

5. Treat yourself to afternoon tea at The Swan at Lavenham

There is nothing more British than an afternoon tea.  The Swan at Lavenham Hotel, serves a delicious tea in the most sumptuous surroundings of this iconic building. The village with its many independent shops, pubs, restaurants and circular walks is also famous as the fictitious birthplace of Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 film.
afternoon teaAfternoon tea in the sumptuous surroundings of The Swan at Lavenham

6. Full steam ahead at the Mid Suffolk Light Railway

Sit back and take a ride on a steam train through the Suffolk countryside.  The trains, station and track at the Mid Suffolk Light Railway have all been renovated to how it would have been in the days when rail was used more than road.  There are several events taking place throughout the year at this museum from military re-enactments to Santa Specials.
steam train at Mid Suffolk Light RailwayStep back in time at the Mid Suffolk Light Railway

7. Navigate the Waterways

There are several places in the Stour Valley where you can ‘get onto the water’.  At Flatford Mill you can hire rowing boats and row along the river through quiet countryside.  At Sudbury, you can hire canoes, kayaks or try a stand-up paddleboard to explore the area at your own pace.
Rowing boats
Enjoy a day on the River Stour

8. Cycle the Painters’ Trail

The Painters Trail is a 69 mile route around some of the most scenic countryside in Suffolk and north Essex.  You will come across picture postcard villages and see amazing landscapes, those chosen by the great artist, John Constable himself, to paint.  We suggest you take your time to savour the views by taking a few days to complete the trail, enjoying the local food and drink along the way.

There are several routes throughout the area that you can walk and cycle, you can find them all here.

bike leaning on Flatford road signA great way to explore the Suffolk countryside is on two wheels

9. Find the American connections

Many of the early settlers in North America were from East Anglia.  In 1942, during World War II, the United States 8th Army Air Force (USAAF) came across ‘the pond’ and set up camp here and so the connection between the two countries continued.

Between 1942 and 1945 there were thousands of USAAF personnel stationed in the county and the impact of this Friendly Invasion was enormous, leaving many lasting links between America and Suffolk, many of them being in the heart of Suffolk.  You can visit many of the sites where they were stationed, the bars they drank in, and follow in the footsteps of our friendly invaders.

95th Bomb Group (H) Heritage Association, HorhamDiscover Suffolk’s links to the Americans’ visit during WWII

10. Stay by the lake

Make your stay in Suffolk one to remember.  Wake up to the sound of nothing but nature in a luxurious, lakeside log cabin at The Suffolk Escape.  With a wood burning stove in case the evenings get chilly, and with a deck set over the lake and a secluded hot tub to watch the sun rise and set.

This is just one of the excellent choices of accommodation throughout the heart of Suffolk and beyond from boutique hotelsself-catering cottagesbed and breakfastscamping and glamping.

Escape the Everyday in Suffolk at The Suffolk Escape