Five generations of the Wrinch family have farmed 720 acres of land on Hill House Farm on the peninsula, link and in days gone by, barges made their way down the rivers Stour and Orwell laden with wheat for the bakers and hay for the horses in London.
Nowadays, after years of looking after livestock, the pigs and herds of cattle are gone and the farm is arable only. Mainstay crops include winter wheat, oats, barley and potatoes, along with parsley which is widely grown in the area, making the Shotley Peninsula one of the largest producers of this common herb in the country.
Diversification has proven to be the way ahead for the current generation of the Wrinch family and Richard and Hazel have been trailblazers in many ways, by sympathetically utilising their farm in different ways to protect and develop their business. All of their land lies within the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with stunning botany and wildlife. Much of it is also designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA), a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Ramsar area.
Growing grapes is a new venture for the Wrinches and it can take a long time for a harvest to produce a usable crop. After years of patience, the grapes from their vineyard are maturing well enough now and there are high hopes of a Shotley red wine being poured this season, made by an experienced, independent viticulturist.
An extra challenge comes with the ever-advancing waters of the salty River Orwell. While the marshes and mud-flats are a feeding haven for wildfowl, waders and migrating geese, they can present problems with erosion and major floods in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries have damaged the marshes.
Managing water levels has always been a responsibility taken on by farmers and a man-made reservoir serves a multi-purpose benefit for people and nature, and helps to increase sustainability.
All this provides an example of farmers uniting the need to produce food whilst incorporating sustainable tourism practices into their business, by encouraging visitors to be at one with nature and enjoy a beautiful, evolving landscape.
Hill House Bed & Breakfast
Whether visiting the Shotley Peninsula for an event, seeing family and friends or exploring for a couple of days, Hill House Bed and Breakfast is an ideal base with stunning wildlife and riverside walks straight from the door. The exceptional views from the house stretch out beyond Felixstowe and Harwich.
This Georgian home has three en suite rooms for guests who can also enjoy a sumptuous sitting room, complete with traditional open fireplace.
The spacious, elegantly furnished Red Room has an en suite bathroom and stunning views over the Orwell. Offering the same luxury as the Red Room, are the Coach and Stable Rooms, both situated in the annexe which is separate from the house. French doors lead out to private lawns with expansive river and countryside views.
Start the day with a full English breakfast, with locally produced sausages and bacon cooked on the Aga and served at a long table in the dining room. There is a games barn with snooker and table tennis which guests are welcome to use.
Hazel and Richard also have three five star, Gold Award, self-catering barns, which sleep between 2-6 people. The eco-friendly barn conversions all feature open-plan living / dining / kitchen areas with vaulted ceilings, and every bedroom has an en-suite shower or a family bathroom. See more information on Orwell View Barns here.