Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB

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The Shotley Peninsula falls within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). AONBs are designated as such because they are considered to be: "an outstanding landscape whose distinctive character and natural beauty are so precious that it is in the nation’s interest to safeguard them" as defined by the National Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the organisation who has designated the 46 AONBs in Britain. These areas cover 18% of the British countryside and have been designated as AONBs to ensure that their character and qualities are protected for future generations to enjoy. One of the best ways to explore the Suffolk Coast and Heaths area is on foot or bicycle. The countryside team who look after the area, with support from the Adnams brewery, the European Union and local councils, have produced a number of guides to enable visitors to get the most of their trip to the area. The guides are available to download from the AONB’s website and include: The Shotley Explorer Guide which describes two walks that pass through Harwich Haven, the best natural harbour on the East coast. The routes include potential stops at the HMS Ganges Museum, telling the story of the world famous Royal Navy training establishment; the Stour and Orwell estuaries that are a haven for up to 40,000 wading birds every autumn and Shotley Heritage Park, some seven areas of community owned woodland and foreshore. The Wherstead Explorer which includes the lovely bluebell woods at Freston The Alton Water Explorer which includes Alton Water, Holbrook Creek and the 'Tattingstone Wonder'. Further publications are available to download or purchase, including more walks and cycle routes and a bi-annual newspaper. To find [...]

Thornham Walks

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The 12 miles of waymarked footpaths on the Thornham Estate are known as Thornham Walks and a surfaced path, suitable for push chairs and wheel chairs, leads for half a mile to the Thornham Walled Garden and takes the walker past the newly refurbished bird hide, the pets' cemetery, along the Thornham Rock Trail to the Victorian Folly. For lots of images of the site and all the activities on offer, please visit the Thornham Walks Facebook page. Walks maps (£1) are available from the information board in the main car park. An events leaflet is available from the Thornham Walks' office, or the Thornham Walks website, which gives a list of the extensive programme of activities organised at Thornham Walks. The staff at Thornham Walks are available to lead and organise guided walks and environmental activities for groups and they run very popular environmental birthday parties. Volunteers are always welcome to help with practical work and events. The last Sunday of the month is Volunteer Day, offering the opportunity to meet new people and learn different skills. Thornham Walks are managed by Mid Suffolk District Council and are grateful for the support provided by them and Suffolk County Council. Contact: Thornham Countryside Officer Red House Yard, Thornham Magna, Eye IP23 8HH T: 01379 788345   f  01379 788008 E: F: Open:  9am to 6pm from April to October and 9am to 4pm November to March.  Thornham Walks may be closed occasionally between October and January. Car parking charges apply and all proceeds go towards the management of Thornham Walks. Dogs on leads are welcome.

Needham Lake, near Needham Market

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Needham Lake is a lovely, 13 hectare site and an ideal place for a walk or a picnic outing on a summer's day.  It lies on the River Gipping is close to Needham Market and Alder Carr Farm. Needham Lake is home to a variety of wildlife (including some very well-fed ducks!) and a the path around the lake is surfaced and used by both walkers and cyclists. There are picnic and play areas with many picnic tables dotted around and plenty of grass for children to play games and run around. There is also some play equipment for young children close to the (free) car park and slightly older children can enjoy a climbing boulder and the play equipment. Part of the site is a Local Nature Reserve with wetland areas, meadows and a small woodland with nest boxes throughout the site. There are plenty of wild flowers with pyramidal and bee orchids which can be seen from the paths. The fenced paddocks are grazed in the summer months to help improve the grassland for wildlife. There are toilet facilities and an information room which has leaflets and news of upcoming events and activities. Events at Needham Lake include regular children’s activities and other events during the school holidays. Angling permits for the lake (both day ticket and club membership) are available from Bosmere Tackle (Tel: 01449 721808) in Needham Market High Street. Access to Needham Lake is from the B1078 Coddenham Road,  OS Grid ref: TM 093547 (Explorer 211).

Shotley Peninsula

The Shotley Peninsula is a lovely and quiet part of the Suffolk countryside and is located between the River Orwell and the River Stour. It falls within the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and you can walk for miles along pretty footpaths and enjoy scenic views on the water's edge. The landscape is made up of ancient estate farmlands, with salt marshes and mudflats. The mudflats are important for estuary birds, wildfowl and waders and the wetlands and estuaries have many otters and water voles. There are also large areas of woodland and parkland areas and the Shotley Peninsula has a thriving artistic community and is an area that attracts many artists, photographers and crafts people; so inspiring is the countryside. There are pretty marinas and Pin Mill is one of the most well known areas with the Butt and Oyster pub, a craft gallery and lovely walks. The HMS Ganges Museum is also well worth a visit and has some fascinating memorabilia about life in Shotley as well as HMS Ganges itself. Alton Water Reservoir is a great place to go for sailing and other watersports and also has walks routes around the reservoir and off roud cycling paths. Did you know... The peninsula is well known for its connections with Arthur Ransome, author of the much loved children's book series Swallows and Amazons. His earlier books were written with the Lake District in mind, but he moved locations in his later books to East Anglia. Ransome kept his boat, a 28 foot Bermuda rigged sailing cutter, in Pin Mill and loved sailing along the Suffolk coast. He named his boat Nancy Blackett after one of the characters in his books and she is [...]

Waveney Valley

The river Waveney defines the border between Norfolk and Suffolk for much of its length. Although the two counties are traditional rivals, viagra 100mg seven market towns in the broader region have come together, under the aegis of the Waveney Valley Market Towns Group, to commission a series of unique audio walks that help you explore these jewels. Four towns are on the Waveney, three are close by. All seven are utterly charming! Each town has devised its own walk to help you uncover its secrets. The walks take an interesting route, perhaps to places you would not ordinarily stumble across. And as you stroll, you can listen to our very special audio guides which feature the real stars of each town: the locals! Each audio walk is a potent blend of history, memory and gossip. For more information please visit the Waveney Valley website.

Dedham Vale and Stour Valley

The Dedham Vale is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the smallest in the UK with an area of 90 square kilometres. It's the area's cultural heritage that played an instrumental role in securing this designation and the vale is inextricably linked to John Constable and the area within the AONB known as 'Constable Country'. The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley area is an excellent example of a lowland English landscape and parts of it it remain suprisingly unspoilt from when John Constable lived and did many of his most well-known paintings there. It is cared for by the Dedham Vale (AONB) and Stour Valley Management Group, whose role is to manage and protect the countryside within the vale and raise awareness of its biodiversity and cultural heritage. The woollen cloth industry made its mark in the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley, as it did in so many of our Suffolk wool towns in the Heart of Suffolk, and throughout the area is evidence of significant wealth from times past, with large, imposing churches and fine architecture within the villages.The River Stour contributed to the woollen cloth and other industries as it was used for transporting goods such as coal, bricks, lime and corn. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1705, making the river naviagable from Sudbury to Manningtree and it must of been a busy place with many weirs and locks to help vessels pass through. The right for light craft to navigate the river still remains today and an annual event 'Sudbury to the Sea' which is organised by the River Stour Trust, ensures that the river remains navigable for the 24.5 miles from Sudbury to the Cattawade Barrier. Visitors can enjoy boat trips [...]