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Life on Shotley Peninsula

The Shotley Peninsula is a small stretch of land between two great Suffolk rivers, the Orwell and the Stour. Whilst the Peninsula’s flat, rural landscape is surrounded by water it 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 understated – places in Suffolk.

Shotley Peninsula at dawnOne of the most picturesque places in Suffolk (c) Anthony Cullen


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.

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 HayWain. 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 of Felixstowe Port or visit the HMS Ganges Museum, which documents the history of the Naval training base established there until 1976.

Take the foot ferry from the Marina to either Felixstowe or Harwich and spend a day on the beach or discovering these seaside towns.

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?


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.

Download a copy of the Shotley Peninsula Walks 


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).


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.

view of Pin Mill from the riverView of Pin Mill from the River Orwell (c) Anthony Cullen