11 quirky things to do in Suffolk this autumn
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From making your own Adnams gin to riding camels - here’s 11 things to do this autumn in Suffolk.
With the coronavirus crisis wiping out everyone’s spring and summer holiday plans this year, people are now hoping to sneak in one quick staycation this autumn before winter arrives.
While most town’s holiday seasons end in August, a new Visit East of England £500,000 campaign has launched across Suffolk and Norfolk, and is encouraging visitors to enjoy the sights of this fair region during September.
With a tagline of ‘Find the paths and places less travelled’, the Unexplored England campaign – which has received support from the government’s Enjoy Summer Safely initiative – hopes people will venture to less crowded places, or do activities that allow them to remain safely in their bubbles.
Here’s 11 things to do this month across Suffolk that you might not have thought to check out previously. To find out social distancing measures where applicable, please contact each venue directly for the most up-to-date information.
Make your own Adnams Gin, Southwold and Bury St Edmunds
Enjoy a taste of Suffolk as you craft your own Adnams tipple to see you through the chillier months. The local brewer’s gin distilling workshops have restarted at both their Southwold and Bury St Edmunds branches - and are a great way to find out more about how gin is made for only £95 per person.
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As you head to the workshop, you are coached through the botanical selection process before you make your own personal recipe. If you book onto a session at Southwold, you will be taken on a short distillery tour beforehand, showing you the gin production process on copper stills using the London Dry method.
Upon completion, you will finish the day with a thirst-queching Adnams spirits tasting session, as a reward for all of that hard work. You will be able to take home your gin in a goody bag alongside a bottle of tonic, an Adnams gin glass, and a voucher for a free can of Adnams gin and tonic. Remember to wait two weeks before trying your own gin though – the flavours will need time to settle. To book onto this gin making workshop, call 01502 727225.
Uncover a hidden beach, Benacre Broad
Step into another world as you venture to Benacre Broad, an isolated lagoon on the Suffolk coast that is steeped in natural beauty.
Located within the Benacre National Nature Reserve, this 393-hectare wonder is home to over 100 breeding bird species, including ducks, bearded reedlings, water rails and marsh harriers – ideal for the most avid of birdspotters. Be sure to take advantage of the bird hide situated on the south-eastern edge of the broad.
If you’re holidaying in Southwold, Covehithe or Benacre itself, Benacre Broad makes a great pitstop or final destination for any ramblers who plan on venturing out on a coastal jaunt.
Climb up the castle mound, Clare
A mere stone’s throw away from the River Stour is Clare Castle Country Park, home to the remains of an 11th century stone castle set atop a 60ft high mote. Designed by Norman lord Richard fitz Gilbert and overlooking the town of Clare, its inner and outer baileys are perfect for family picnics and for children to explore.
For those who wants to feel the autumnal air race through them, a short trek up to the top of the mount is a great way to not only spend a September day, but to also explore the castle ruins. Once you reach the summit, be sure to soak up that glorious, expansive view as you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Clare Castle Country Park, which is open 24 hours a day, also features a number of other sights that are definitely worth checking during your visit - including Clare’s former railway station, a Grade II-listed building that was built in 1865. Disused as of 1967, it was the only train station built within the bailey of a castle. To find out more, call 01787 277902.
Tour a vineyard, Hartest
Surprising to many who aren’t from round here, this county proudly boasts its fair share of award-winning tipples, and you can spend this autumn learning all you need to know about East Anglian wines at Giffords Hall.
Usually running up until mid-September, this Suffolk winery has extended its vineyard tours up until November, after having been closed over summer due to Covid-19. Perfect for a couple who may be celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, or just want to escape to the countryside, Giffords Hall’s two-person private accompanied tours will teach you everything you need to know about winemaking.
During your tour, you’ll be given information on the various stages of growing grapes including trellising, growing and pruning as well as shown what sorts of varieties are grown. This is followed by a short presentation in the winery, and a wine tasting session where you can enjoy three different wines, three liqueurs and a complimentary glass of still wine in the on-site al fresco café, accompanied by nibbles. To find out more, call 01284 830 799.
Enjoy a meal on a river cruise, Orford
Take to the water this autumn and indulge in some delicious food as you set sail on the Lady Florence. Designed to provide an elegant and exciting dining experience, you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or supper as you gently float down the River Alde or Ore on this ex-Admiralty motor fishing vessel.
With a cosy coal fire and fully stocked bar onboard, the Lady Florence will set sail regardless of tide and has ample space both on deck and in its elegant dining saloon. As you enjoy your gourmet food cooked using some of Suffolk’s finest produce, you will be provided with an informative commentary on both the area’s fascinating history and intriguing wildlife. Due to social distancing restrictions, the Lady Florence will only be accepting bookings of one group bubble at a time. To find out more, call 01473 558712.
Explore The Under the Pier Show, Southwold
If life’s eccentricities hold a special place in your heart, look no further than The Under the Pier Show at Southwold Pier. Filled with a unique collection of interactive machines, this showcase of wonderous inventions is the brainchild of Tim Hunkin, a Suffolk-based engineer.
With nearly 20 different interactive machines to have a tinker with, this one-of-a-kind, mind-bending experience is great fun for the whole family. Why not see what life is like for a fly using VR, train for your future on a Zimmerframe simulator, or descend beneath the Pier to witness the fictional marvels of the seabed with the Bathyscape.
Open this autumn until Monday October 26, The Under the Pier Show is open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm. For further information, call 01502 722105.
Go beachcombing for amber, Suffolk Coast
Situated between Felixstowe and Southwold is a stretch of beach affectionately known as the ‘Amber Coast’, due to its high concentration of fossilised amber resin that can be found on its shores. Some of the best beaches to go amber hunting in Suffolk include Aldeburgh, Dunwich, Southwold and Shingle Street.
Dating back millions of years ago, many pieces of amber contain fosillised insects within – giving you the ultimate keepsake from your trip to the beach. But what exactly should you be looking out for? Keep an eye out for brown-orange stones, as amber tends to look more like a gem once it’s been polished.
If you happen to be in Southwold and want to learn more about amber in the area, head to The Amber Shop. Located on Market Street, the shop sells jewellery, gifts and charms – and its staff will no doubt be able tell you more about the fascinating history of this beautiful stone.
Meet the camels, Halesworth
When you think of a staycation, you tend to think of activities such as riding donkeys on the beach or horses through the woods, but did you know Suffolk has camels? Located in north Suffolk, the Oasis Camel Park is the only place in the UK where you can get up close and personal with these friendly dromedaries.
Ideal for a family day out, visitors to the park can not only feed and pet the camels, but also ride them, and meet an array of other animals including ring-tailed lemurs, donkeys, wallabies, mara, goats, sheep, horse and pony, emus, rheas, meerkats, marmosets, rabbits, guinea pigs, kune kune pigs, poultry and cage birds. In between getting to know the animals, you can also have a game of mini golf or ride pedal go-karts.
If you’re lucky enough to be holidaying with your four-legged friend, well-behaved dogs on leads are also welcome at the camel park. Oasis Camel Park is open seven days a week between 10.30am and 5pm until Sunday November 1. To find out more, call 07836 734748.
Take part in a cooking class, Kenton
If you’re passionate about the art of food, a masterclass at The Food Hub Cookery School in Kenton could be the perfect way to spend a day out this September. Housed in a converted cow byre next to a kitchen garden, this culinary school will show you everything you need to know about real, fresh, seasonal cooking.
Using the school’s state-of-the-art facilities such as an Aga Rangemaster and Kenwood equipment, you’ll be taught in a relaxed and friendly environment. Whether you’re a beginner, or a confident cook who wants to try their hand at something new, choose from a range of hands on course and cookery demonstrations that will suit every skill level.
Courses on offer this month include a full day Thai and Vietnamese cuisines course, an easy entertaining masterclass, a Patisserie class and a one-pot dishes masterclass. With prices starting from £69, the skills you leave with will simply be priceless. To enquire, call 01728 862062.
Visit some of Suffolk’s stately homes, various locations
Fans of BBC’s longstanding Antiques Roadshow will no doubt know that Suffolk is home to some of the series’ most iconic filming locations - so why not get up close and personal with some of the country’s most stunning examples of awe-inspiring architecture by visiting one of its stately homes and surrounding gardens.
Stowmarket’s Helmingham Hall, which was recently featured on an episode of the show, boasts a relaxed atmosphere for visitors to take in the serenity of its gardens. Be sure to grab a hot drink and bite to eat from the onsite Coach House Tearooms who will be doing takeaway. Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 11am and 4.30pm, the gardens will close for the year on Sunday September 20. Call 01473 890799 to find out more.
Alternatively, Long Melford’s Kentwell Hall, which is open until Sunday September 27, is a stunning haven of peace and tranquility, with its Walled and Sunken Gardens a real treat for the eyes. Call 01787 310207 to find out more. While the inside of both halls remains closed, it is definitely worth a trip to check out their gardens and admire these buildings in all of their wonder from a distance.
Score a hole in one at crazy golf, Stonham Aspal
Tee off this September at the family-friendly Smugglers Bay Adventure Golf. Spectacular sound effects, lighting and characters help bring this 18-hole adventure to life, making it an exciting fun day out for all the family.
With a number of unique holes to putt on, including the vortex volcano, the wall of death, water hole and shipwreck, this course is open all year round and is both wheelchair and pushchair accessible. Call 01449 711545 to book a slot.