Beccles and neighbouring Bungay, are two gorgeous Georgian towns, nestled in the Waveney Valley. Suffolk’s coastal towns may often steal the limelight but if you’re looking for an enjoyable spring day out or weekend away, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what the historic towns have to offer. Get exploring with our top 10 things to do…
Beccles is home to the most southerly navigable point of the Broads National Park, perfect for taking to the water with a day hire boat or canoe. Local company Hippersons have a fleet of boats and can advise on routes along the Broads, rivers and waterways. If you prefer to let someone else do the driving, hop aboard the Big Dog Ferry, which offers a 40-minute boat journey along the River Waveney.
If you’d rather stay on dry land, Beccles has many beautiful walks where you’ll still get to take in the beauty of the river and spot some wildlife. The Beccles Marsh Trail is a popular option with a series of walks and cycle routes.
Tales in Bungay
Located 6.5miles west of Beccles, Bungay captivates visitors with its history and folklore. Famous for the tale of Black Shuck; a ghostly black dog that supposedly appeared in 1577, causing havoc in the church, injuring and killing some of the congregation. There’s even a beer and gin named after the mythical creature! You can visit St Mary’s Church, which today still hosts services and regular exhibitions and events to help raise funds for the upkeep of the building.
The charming town is also home to the remains of a Norman Castle. Discover the history at the visitor centre, café and gift shop, where displays help you imagine what the castle would have been like in the early 12th century. Entry is free but donations are welcomed.
Keen shoppers will adore both towns delightful mix of stores and boutiques. Books, clothing, jewellery, homewares, crafts and more, independent retailers with their enticing window fronts are located between high street brands, helping the towns to retain a sense of old world charm. Both towns host a weekly market, Bungay’s market is on a Thursday and Beccles’ on a Friday.
Bungay Town Trail
The best way to explore Bungay is by walking the Bungay Town Trail, which starts at the Market Place and takes two hours to complete. A more advanced walk starts at the Bigod Way, covering 10 miles, taking in historic sites, rare plants and wildlife.
A bite to eat
Whether you need a light bite, lunch or dinner, Beccles and Bungay have a fabulous independent food scene. For tea and cake stop by the quirky Every Day’s a Picnic Café at Brick Yards in Bungay or the very Instagrammable Urban Jungle Café in Beccles, where the food is just as vibrant as the interiors! Try a pizza that rivals those found Italy at the Royal Oak in Beccles or for tasty traditional ‘pub grub’ visit Bungay’s The Fleece Inn.
You simply can’t visit Bungay without sampling its local ales. Within the area you’ll find traditional pubs selling a range of local brews. If you want to find out more, St Peter’s Brewery is close by and offers a brewery tour and tastings from Easter to December.
If you’re making a weekend of your trip, bed down at The Swan Motel in Beccles, which featured on Channel 4s ‘Four In a Bed’. With a warm, friendly and homely feel, it’s great value for money.
If you enjoy browsing antiques and vintage items, coincide your trip with the bi-annual Beccles Antique Street Market. Held in the town centre on 5 May and 11 August, 100 general and specialist dealers will be selling a range of goods including furniture, jewellery, books, décor and much more. For the first time, this year will also incorporate street food. Don’t worry if you can’t make one of these dates, the area is home to a number of antique stores!
Beccles Food and Drink Festival
Celebrating its 5thyear, Beccles Food and Drink Festival is returning in 2019 to tantalise the taste buds. Set for Saturday 25 May, 10am-4pm, the Festival features over 70 food and drink stalls, many of them local artisan producers, as well as those from farther afield in East Anglia. Based in the centre of the vibrant market town, the Festival will include cookery demonstrations and talks, music and children’s entertainment. A free Park & Ride service will run throughout the day from Beccles Quay, where additional parking will be available.