by John | Aug 31, 2013 |

Beaches on the Suffolk Coast

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The Suffolk Coast is a diverse and breath-taking stretch of coastline, comprising of sand and shingle beaches. It runs from the beach gardens of Felixstowe, through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that encompasses both wild and manicured beaches, sand dunes and beach huts, piers and promenades, to the Sunrise Coast of Lowestoft and Southwold. Further north you will find even more stretches of golden, blue-flag beaches, backed by grassy cliffs, all the way up to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

The English love of the beach dates back to the 19th century, when people began to seek the healthy benefits of sea air.

Nowadays, whether it be for crabbing, wind surfing, sun bathing, dog walking, or swimming, Suffolk’s coastline continues to attract innumerable visitors every year seeking the beautiful views and pretty seaside towns.


With award-winning fish and chips, clean water and traditional seaside amusements, towns such as Southwold and Aldeburgh make for a lovely day out, whilst the wild beaches of Orford and Covehithe, quiet gems on the Suffolk coast, are perfect for dog walking.

And the still crisp air in Winter means that the beach isn’t just a place to visit in the summer sun. There’s nothing more refreshing than a stroll along Dunwich’s shingle or Kessingland’s marshland, wrapped up in your winter woollies.


Here we give you a run-through of some of the wonderful beaches the Suffolk coast has to offer.


There’s something for everyone!


South Suffolk

Felixstowe

The beach at Felixstowe, a former favourite of Edwardian society, is a sand and shingle beach, complete with beach huts, an old pier and traditional amusements. You will also find a series of beautiful sea front gardens lining the shores here.

 

It received the top award in the Marine Conservation Society Good Beach Guide in 2010 for its excellent standards of water quality. The large, rock groynes that run down the north beach are a picturesque feature, juxtaposed with the distant views, to the right, of the cranes of Britain's largest container port. The view out to sea over the boulders is particularly lovely as the setting sun hangs low in the sky in the evening.


Recommended: North Beach

Distance: 13.7 miles to Woodbridge


Things to do nearby: Landguard Fort - Originally built at the behest of Henry the Eighth, this fort in Felixstowe is the only fort in England to have repelled a full scale invasion attempt. At the mouth of the River Orwell, Landguard Fort was designed to guard the entrance to Harwich.

How to get there:

For the North Beach:

IP11 2AQ
The beach is adjacent to the town; take the A12 / A14 to Felixstowe. Parking is alongside the promenade.

For more information on the north beach, see here.

For the South Beach:

IP11 2DF
The beach is adjacent to the town; take the A12 / A14 to Felixstowe and follow the brown signs. Parking is alongside the promenade.

For more information on the south beach, see here.


Orford Ness

The coastline at Orford comprises a shingle spit, and is backed by marshland. This wild beach runs along the coast from Aldeburgh to North Weir Point.

The marshland site is protected and managed by the National Trust and the RSPB, and is home to several species of bird, including the iconic Avocet.

The shingle of the spit, meanwhile, is home to several species of rare insects and beetles. Find out more about birdwatching on the Suffolk Coast here.

The red and white stripes of the Orford Ness Lighthouse are a striking feature on this quiet piece of coast.


Interesting Facts:

 For most of the 20th century the military used the island for top secret experiments on a vast range of weapons. Intensively used as a bombing and rocket range, dangerous debris, including bombs, still remains.

Read about 'The Great Shingle Bank’ here.


Distance: 11.6 Aldeburgh; 12.4 miles Woodbridge; 14.8 miles Framlingham

How to get there:

Access is only on the National Trust ferry from Orford Quay on open days. See here for more information. If you're looking to stay in Orford, take a look at Daphne Cottage or Quay View. Alternatively, for a whole list of lovely, self-catered cottages in the area.


Central Suffolk

Aldeburgh

 

The beach at Aldeburgh runs from the Martello Tower northwards to the controversial scallop sculpture (by Maggie Hambling). The shingle beach is dotted with fishing boats, and lined with colourful sea front houses, giving the seaside town a delightful, shabby-chic aesthetic.

To see Aldeburgh at its most energetic, head to the annual carnival, which is held on the bank holiday weekend in August. It sees dozens of homemade floats take to the high street, followed by a lantern procession later in the evening and a firework display on the beach at night.

When the mist sets in through the quieter Autumnal and Winter months, Aldeburgh retains a ghostly charm. Dogs are allowed on the beach outside of the summer months; there is a mile of wonderful, dog-friendly beach just to the north of the town, which is well signposted.

There are a series of cafes and restaurants in Aldeburgh, as well as a boating pond, and famous fish and chip takeaways!


Distance: Orford 11.4 miles; Woodbridge 17.9; Framlingham 13.9

How to get there:

IP15 5BD

Aldeburgh is signposted down the A1094, off the A12 North of Norwich.
See here for more information.

Looking to stay in Aldeburgh? Sea Horse Cottage, and 5 Coastguard Cottages are just two of many lovely self-catered holiday properties available in the seaside town. See here for more!


Thorpeness

A little further north (about  1½ miles) up the coast from Aldeburgh is the steeply shelving shingle of Thorpeness beach.



Thorpeness is quieter than its popular neighbour, Aldeburgh, and the two are an easy cycle ride or seaside walk from one another.

If you keep heading north, you will find Sizewell beach, which has no restrictions on dogs all year round.

Things to do nearby: Head to the meare, take out a paddle boat or kayak, and go for a row on the calm waters.


Distance: 2.1 miles to Aldeburgh; 12 miles to Orford; 17 miles to Woodbridge

If you're keen to stay in the delightful village of Thorpeness, see The Boat House, a fantastic sleeps 6 family property right on the beach, or The Courthouse, a majestic, stylish, sleeps 8 property set within Ogilvie Hall!


   

Dunwich

Once a large city and trading port, home to 4000 residents, Dunwich is now a peaceful sand and shingle beach, dotted with fishermen huts and backed by marshland. It is bordered by the River Blyth to the south and by Southwold to the north.

This is a long, quiet beach, perfect for stretching your legs. The café serves good fish and chips, which can be worked off later on the coastal walk. The nearby Dingle marshes are home to varied wildlife.

There are no restrictions on dog walking.

Distance: 8.7 miles Southwold; 11.4 miles Aldeburgh; 16.7 miles Bungay; 18.1 miles Orford

How to get there:

IP17 3DE

Take the A12 north from Ipswich towards Lowestoft. Turn off after Saxmundham and shortly (1/2 mile) after Yoxford following signs to Westleton and then Dunwich.

For more information, see here.


North Suffolk

Walberswick

On the orange-tinted, slightly coarse sands of Walberswick, crabbing is a must.

The long sand and shingle beach is backed by grassy dunes, and surrounded by marsh and heathland. Every August, it hosts the British Open Crabbing Championship; a family event that raises funds for various charities and good causes, both local and national.

When you’re getting peckish, set down your bucket and spade and head into the Georgian village of Walberswick for a pub lunch or a cream tea.

Walberswick is wider, wilder and less streamlined than the neighbouring town of Southwold, which is visible to the north. Southwold can be reached by walking along the river bank and across the Bailey bridge.

 Alternatively, a foot ferry operates during the summer months.

Distance: 8.3 miles Southwold; 15.2 miles Aldeburgh; 17.2 miles Bungay

Seaview is a lovely, sleeps 8 self-catered property in Walberswick. For more properties in the Southwold area, see here.



Southwold

Southwold consists of two beaches:

The Pier Beach is a Blue Flag beach, with clean water and sands. It comprises a mixture of sand and shingle, and is backed by a neat promenade, complete with colourful beach huts and wooden chalets. The beach here holds both a Quality Coast Award, and is Marine Conservation Society Recommended.


Lifeguards monitor the waters, making this a safe place to swim. There is also a traditional pier complete with amusements, a restaurant and an excellent cafe. Further inland you will find a boating pond and putting green. 

As well as for fishing, people come to the Pier to make use of the water sports facilities, which include windsurfing and jet skiing.

Suzie's Beach Cafe provides cake and ice creams right on the beach front.

The beach is cleaned regularly and dogs are banned from certain areas during the summer season.

 
Southwold has remained pleasingly resistant to modernity. There are numerous pubs within the town, as well as several great shops along the high street. The large, white lighthouse stands proudly above the promenade, and adds to the lovely traditional feel of the unspoilt, coastal town.  

Things to do nearby:

  • Take the Adnams Brewery Tour. Southwold is home to the famous Adnams Brewery. Meet the brewery team and see it all for yourself. The tour explaind the beer-making process, and shows you parts of the brewery that are not normally open to the public. Free alcohol involved!
  • The Coastal Voyager offers a range of trips including short local fun rides, trips to the seal and wind farm at Scroby Sands, and a one way ticket to Dunwich beach. 'Sea Blast' is particularly popular: the 400hp boat is put through its formidable paces in a 30 min tour of Solebay.

The further south you head, the quieter the beach gets. Soon, the concrete promenade and beach huts are replaced by grassy dunes. This part of the beach is much wider, and generally much quieter.

It’s still a nice spot for swimming, but note that there are no life guards further down the beach.

The most southern beach is known as The Denes; a quieter, more secluded shingle stretch next to the River Blyth. It’s good for walking, with grassy dunes and views across the estuary and, like its northern neighbour, received a Quality Coast Award.

Visitors use the beach for surfing, windsurfing and fishing. There is a coast path with walks north to Southwold and beyond or south along the banks of the river. There are also no restrictions on dogs here!

Distance: 9.1 miles Halesworth; 11 miles to Ellough; 14.4 miles Beccles; 17.6 miles Bungay; 17.9 miles Aldeburgh.

How to get there:

For the North beach:

IP18 6BN

Signposted off the A12 between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
For more information, see here.

For the Denes/southern beaches:

IP18 6HQ

Accessed from the A12 North of Ipswich and Saxmundham and south of Lowestoft. Turn off along the A1095. Signposted Southwold. Once in Southwold. go through the town and the road leads out to Southwold Denes.

For a list of self-catered holiday properties in the area, see here. Amory House is a sleeps 10, an elegant Victoria Villa that overlooks Southwold common and sits just a short stroll from the sandy beach.


   

Covehithe

In stark contrast to Southwold, the wild beach of Covehithe is well off the beaten track – quite literally; the coastal path that leads to it is a bit of a tricky one.


But the soft, white sandy shores and marram grass dunes are a well-kept secret for those who really want to get away from it all.,

Backed by crumbling cliffs, this eroding peace of coast is a great spot for sea swimming, and just behind the beach you will find several freshwater lagoons.

It’s darker, and wilder than the more popular destinations on the Suffolk coast. Read Blake Morisson’s article on why Covehithe beach is his ‘Perfect Place’ here. (The descriptions are terrific!)


Distance: 5 miles from Southwold; 8 miles from Ellough; 10.5 miles from Lowestoft; 14.2 miles from Beccles; 17.5 miles from Bungay


Kessingland and Pakefield

These two unspoilt and spacious beaches, close to Lowestoft, are little-known gems on the Suffolk Coast.

 

Comprising of marshland, shingle and sand, Kessingland is a peaceful and quiet dog-friendly beach, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The area is popular with wildlife, and seals can sometimes be seen lying on the sandbanks.


Distance: 5.8 miles to Lowestoft; 7.3 miles to Ellough; 8.7 miles to Southwold; 10.3 miles to Beccles; 14.1 miles to Bungay.

How to get there:

NR33 7NU

Kessingland Village is accessed from the A12 via the B1437.


Lowestoft

Lowestoft is the most easterly point of the United Kingdom. The Edwardian seafront is a popular destination for beach-goers, and the town is at the forefront of the UK’s wind generation industry.


With everything you’d expect from a traditional seaside resort – including a pier with amusements, colourful beach huts (many are availble for weekly and daily hire - telephone 01502 588444), beachside cafes, a lighthouse and soft golden sand – the Blue Flag beaches either side of Claremont Pier are perfectly inviting.

The waters, which have been classed as ‘excellent’, are manned by lifeguards from May through to September. This coincides with the period in which dogs are not allowed on the beach.

The beach is very popular in the summertime, when people flock to the clean sands to sunbathe, paddle and swim. There is a designated water sports area where you will find wind surfers, water skiers, scuba divers, sailors and jet skiers.

Things to see nearby:  


Ness Point is the most easterly point of the United Kingdom and of the British Isles.  It is said that Sir Samuel Morton Peto often came to Ness Point to mull over his plans for the town for which he was largely responsible for the development of in the early 19th century. He purpotedly felt happier knowing that there was nobody further east than he, when searching for inspirational ideas.

Ness Point can be found at NR32 1XQ


Interesting fact:

Suffolk County Council and Waveney District Council aim to make Lowestoft one of the leading areas in the UK for the renewable energy industry. This renewable energy boom started with the completion and installation of the UK's Largest Wind Turbine [Gulliver] in 2005.

Distance: 10.1 miles to Ellough; 10.3 miles to Beccles; 13.5 miles to Southwold; 15.3 miles to Bungay


How to get there:


NR33 0DE

Located centrally in Lowestoft adjacent to the main A12 trunk road; approx 400 yards from the main train station.


South Norfolk


Hopton-on-Sea

Hopton-on-Sea is a sandy beach to the south of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.

Large wooden groynes stretch down to the waters, and grassy cliffs run along behind the sands.

There a good views of the curving coastline here, and you may well see horses galloping along the shore. Scroby Sands offshore wind farm is visible on the horizon; you can take a boat trip here, which are popular for sightings of a large colony of seals.


How to get there: 
NR31 9SE

By Road:
From Great Yarmouth follow the A12 signposted to Lowestoft. With the James Paget Hospital and the Travel Lodge on your left follow across roundabout towards Lowestoft. At next roundabout take the 1st exit. Turn left onto Lowestoft road, turn right onto Station Road and then right again onto Coast Road.


Gorleston-on-Sea

Below the grassy cliffs of Gorleston – on-sea you will find the award-winning, family friendly, sandy beach. With a Quality Coast Award, and Marine Conservation Society Recommended, Gorleston is perfect for for bucket and spade lazy days in the sun.


Behind the sands you will find pitch and putt, bowling greens, tennis and basketball courts, seafront gardens and a lovely promenade.

Go for a dip in the ‘Excellent’, RNLI-monitored waters, take a body board to the waves, or enjoy the large paddling pool and yacht pond.

There are a range of cafés and shops along the promenade.


Distance: 18.7 miles Bungay; 13.9 miles Beccles


How to get there:

NR31 6DX

The beach is signposted from the A12


Great Yarmouth

Great Yarmouth is a busy, family beach resort, complete with soft sand, seaside amusements, and donkey rides.

The bustling Britannia pier is packed with a selection of foods and refreshments, bars, amusement rides and live theatre shows. The ‘Pleasure Beach’, with high-octane rides and traditional attractions, sits on the top of the Golden Mile and dominates the seafront skyline.

Deck chairs are available for hire and boat trips out to Scroby Sands to see the seals leave Central Beach alongside Britannia Pier.

The beach is cleaned regularly and dogs are banned during the summer months. RNLI lifeguards watch the waters, which have been awarded with the Quality Coast Award and are Marine Conservation Society Recommended.

Stroll past the beach huts on the promenade and take in the buzzing atmosphere.


Distance: 15.4 miles to Beccles


How to get there:

NR30 2ER

Great Yarmouth is directly east of Norwich on the A47


See here for a list of self-catered properties in the North of Suffolk and Norfolk Border



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