Aldeburgh and Orford (and kayaking)

Arriving in Suffolk we were told by a reliable source that we had chosen to stay in the ‘arse-end’ of a very pretty area!  I think she was referring to the fact that we are just a few miles from Sizewell and the town that serves it, Leiston.

However, we have to beg to differ as within very easy reach we have found some little gems, including:- Aldeburgh, Thorpeness, Orford, Dunwich, Southwold and, today, Framlingham.  All this in addition to Theberton’s own, extremely special, St Peters Church.

Let’s start with the church – it was the first visit we made after all, being at the end of the road we’re staying on (Fishers Field in Church Lane :), see my review of the site here ); so about a 5 minute walk from the van.

The church has an unusual round tower and thatched roof, and you can see where it was extended in the 15th century.  In the vestry there is a beautiful arch leading into the church.  It would appear that this was an entrance from a monastery that occupied the site behind the church in medieval times (there’s no longer any trace of this unfortunately).  The painted decoration is also still clearly visible, as are the slight bowing of the roof.

Tonight, Sunday 4th June, Bill Turnbull is hosting a local election debate in the church!

The day after arriving we headed to Aldeburgh, via Thorpeness.  We drove through Thorpeness (we’re returning on our bikes tomorrow), and I was shocked – I was expecting something dingy and soulless, so it was a bit of a shock to drive through such a quaint and quirky space.  You can also see ‘the House in the Clouds’ from here (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this on a number of travel programmes before).  We can’t wait to visit properly now!  We’re going to cycle from Aldeburgh which is where we were heading when driving through.

Aldeburgh is also quite charming.  A long stretch of shingle leads up to the town where you find numerous historic and interesting buildings. Benjamin Britten lived here for many years and created the Aldeburgh Festival in the 1940s.  This still runs every year in June.

There is a fairly new lifeboat station as well as 2 lookouts (north and south) that preceded the old lifeboat station (the north tower became the lifeboat station and the south is now an art gallery).

Many of the houses fronting onto the sea are actually holiday homes, and what a lovely place to stay each one of them is!  The town centre reflects the upmarket nature of the town, hosting shops such as L’Occitane, Tilley & Grace & Crew Clothing.  There are 3 fish & chip shops and 2 ice cream parlours.  Unfortunately 1 of the ice cream parlours was closed the day we visited (they were at the Suffolk Show) meaning the queues at the remaining shop and the kiosk on the seafront were too long for us!

The main picture is a tribute to Benjamin Britten, the Scallop, and is apparently rather controversial in the town.  What we found unfortunate was that it was simply being used as a climbing frame by many kids on the beach.

We had a drink in the 16th century Cross Keys Inn.  It was a bit disappointing and expensive unfortunately.  We also visited the museum in the Moot Hall for £2 each.  This is still used as the town’s council chamber and this area was actually more interesting than the museum itself (which was housed on the lower floor).

There are many paying car parks along the seafront, but as we are visiting places almost daily we have to be a bit careful as parking charges are one of the largest costs we could have.  However, if you continue through the town and right to the end towards the sailing clubs of the old lost town of Slaughden, there is plentiful free parking on the spit, which continues to Orford Ness (you would have to walk there though…)

Slaughden, like much of this coastal area, was once a thriving port that was eventually lost to the sea.  All that is now left is a couple of sailing clubs.

 

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The Wooden Boats and shingle of Aldeburgh with numerous Holiday homes in the distance

We were very taken with Aldeburgh and would definitely recommend a visit.

On Thursday we resolved to get the kayak out (finally!)  We decided to head round towards Snape to see if we could put it in there.  We ended up driving on round to Iken and eventually found ourselves in Orford which is where we went in from the, rather muddy, beach… This was after Calv asked the harbour master if we could use the slipway and was told, very curtly, yes but you’ll have to pay (even to put a kayak in..)

So we put it in from the beach and had to try to not put our muddy feet in – we probably looked quite funny.  Not as funny as when we landed though.  Having successfully exited the canoe we carried it up the slipway, only at the bottom of the slipway it was very muddy, and how I stayed on my feet I have no idea – I very nearly did the splits.  I was impressed with myself but Calv saw none of this as he was hidden behind the other end of the kayak!  I’m sure it gave people crabbing on the quay a laugh though…

It was good to get out in the kayak and get used to this new one that we have.  We had lovely views back to Orford and the castle and church.  I could also see that over on Orford Ness areas that looked like water were actually the mudflats, and you could see that even the birds sank their legs some way into this mud – imagine what we would have done if we’d tried to land!

Once we were out and cleaned up a bit we decided to pop into the pub near the quay, The Jolly Sailor, where I had the pleasure of experiencing their unique ‘cake in a jar’.  Not only did it look good, it tasted good too 🙂

As we were in Orford we decided it would be a good idea to visit the Castle (English Heritage).  It’s tempting to assume that once you’ve seen one castle you’ve seen them all..  Trust me, we have seen many, many castles and they are all different.  This one in particular had many rooms intact, leading Calv to comment that you could pretty much move in and live in it!  Also the audio guide was absolutely excellent.

Look out for my reviews of both Orford and Framlingham castles.

In my next post I’ll tell you about our visits to Southwold, Dunwich and Framlingham.

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Author: MandoraTheExplorer

I'm a middle aged accounting tutor looking for my own mild adventures with my other half before it's too late..... I've taken the plunge and organised a year long sabbatical (a year with no pay!!), sold the house and my car and am ready to go :)

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