The Heart of Suffolk is home to Constable Country, river valleys, and market towns. It has plenty on offer if you’re a fan of exploring stunning countryside walks before finding a spot for a refreshing pint and tasty pub grub.
To help you with your exploring and if you’re stuck for ideas on where to go, we’ve put together a list of some of the top pubs in the area to accompany the idyllic walks in the heart of Suffolk.
One of the great wool towns of medieval Suffolk, Long Melford is a quaint village boasting two stunning manor Houses: Kentwell Hall and Melford Hall, as well as independent shops, galleries, antique centres, tea rooms, restaurants, hotels, and pubs! Long Melford is also home to a beautiful country park with links to wonderful walking routes along the river and through the Suffolk countryside.
This 2.5 mile walk leaves the village past Melford Hall and Holy Trinity Church before turning west for splendid views across the Stour valley.
The Hare Inn is a traditional country pub located at the northern end of Long Melford and just a short walk from both the Tudor Estate of Kentwell Hall and Melford Hall stately home. With plenty of parking, the Hare Inn is an ideal stop for a bite to eat after a relaxing walk.
The village of Long Melford is picture perfect
Chelmondiston – Pin Mill
Heading along the Shotley Peninsula you will come to Pin Mill, an area made famous by the Swallows and Amazons author Arthur Ransome. From here there are tranquil walking routes with stunning views of the River Orwell, as well as local shops and of course one of the finest and most dog-friendly pubs in the area!
This short 1.5 mile walk follows easy paths and delivers excellent views across the River Orwell. Head down towards the Butt and Oyster, one of Suffolk’s most iconic pubs, made famous as the setting for the opening chapters of two of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons series of children’s books.
The Butt & Oyster is one of the best-known, dog-friendly public houses in Suffolk. It is renowned for its good beer, excellent food, and great views of the river. With plenty of outdoor seating on warmer days and cosy indoor seating too, this is a must-go-to eaterie on the Shotley Peninsula.
The Butt and Oyster at Pin Mill
Sudbury is a pretty market town and was home to world-renowned painter Thomas Gainsborough. It is also the location that inspired Dodie Smith, the author of 101 Dalmatians. This thriving town has independent shops, cafes and restaurants, a weekly market, beautiful riverside and countryside walks as well as art shops, galleries, Gainsborough’s House Museum, and the Quay Theatre.
The Railways and Meadows trail is a moderate 3.7 mile loop in Sudbury. It follows the route of the former railway over the River Stour towards Brundon Mill and returns through the meadows of the historic Common Lands, once walked by Thomas Gainsborough. Pop a pair of binoculars in your bag, this trail is a popular route with bird watchers, so you may get to catch a glimpse of some of the wildlife along the way too.
The Wagon at Sudbury is a stylish and comfortable pub and offers something for everyone, from morning coffee to evening dining and cocktails. The pub serves an excellent choice of local ales along with a seasonal food menu that won’t disappoint. It’s a great stopping-off point for your walk in Sudbury, before heading into the town and exploring the weekly market.
Walk in the footsteps of Gainsborough along the Sudbury water meadows (c) Bill Hiskett
Eye is a picturesque market town, with an impressive array of listed buildings, quaint independent shops, plus a beautiful church and castle. It has a rich history with its castle dating back to the 11th century, as well as the magnificent 15th century Church of Saints Peter and Paul. What was once the country’s smallest borough, still has a wealth of interesting things to see and do making it a destination well worth visiting.
Eye Castle Circular is an easy 1.2 mile loop trail, with interactive information as you walk following the Love Exploring app. The trail gives you plenty of historical facts, whilst taking you through the town.
The Queens Head dates back several hundred years as an alehouse, and continues as an independent Free House, serving fine ales direct from the cask. Along with its medieval beams and open fires, it serves a selection of delicious food and has a fantastic garden to enjoy during the warmer months. It’s also situated right in the heart of the town close to the shops and car parks.
The magnificent Church of St Peter and St Paul overlooks the town of Eye
Suffolk is full of rich history and Needham Market is another town to reflect this. Full of character with its High Street being a designated conservation area and a number of Grade II listed buildings throughout the town. The independent boutiques, farm shops, pubs, and restaurants have a certain unique charm about them.
Located in the Gipping valley, Needham Market was another of the wool towns until the onset of the plague from 1663 to 1665. You can find out more about the history of the town through the interactive trails. You will be surrounded by so much history walking through this delightful town and around the nearby Needham Lake.
This 2.7 miles circular route is a moderate trail around the historic Needham Market. Follow the ancient tree-lined “corpseway” towards Barking Church before returning ‘over the tops’ with far-reaching views across the Gipping Valley.
The Rampant Horse is just a short walk from the beautiful Needham Lake. The pub offers local Calvor’s beers, wines, and importantly good pub grub! The cosy atmosphere and friendly service make this the perfect spot to end your walk on a high and reflect on your trip to Needham Market.
The colourful High Street in Needham Market
Stowmarket is the largest town in the Heart of Suffolk and is a popular shopping centre. Here you will find a selection of independent shops and much-loved cafes and restaurants. The town, has a rich history, and is not only mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086 but is also home to 131 listed buildings. There are some unique visitor attractions in the town, including the incredible John Peel Centre, named after the English disc jockey, radio presenter and journalist who lived locally. There is also the 70-acre Museum of East Anglian Life (soon to be the Museum of Food), and the Regal Cinema and Theatre.
As one of the longer walks this 6.5 mile trail starts and ends at Stowmarket Railway Station. It takes you through woodland, meadows, past historic churches and gives amazing views of the River Gipping. However, if you’re wanting a shorter stroll, you can circle back up into the town when you get to the Magpie Inn.
The Magpie Inn is believed to be the longest-running pub in the area, dating back to 1619, which is hard to miss as you enter the town. The pink cottage pub welcomes you in with its cosy lounge and friendly atmosphere. Serving a selection of quality assured beers and ales, as well as home to “The Gin Palace”, “Vodka Valley” and “Rum Cove”. If you’ve worked up an appetite after a long walk The Magpie Inn offers a wide range of food and will even cater for the pickiest of eaters.
Enjoy a variety of dishes at the Magpie in Stowmarket
These are just a handful of some of the pubs and walks in the Heart of Suffolk. You can find plenty more walks of varying distances and difficulties here.
Some of these walks are featured on the free Love Exploring app to help guide you around the area, including a range of interactive activities.
If you like what you have read so far about the Heart of Suffolk, why not read about how to escape the everyday here.