Enjoy a weekend break in Southwold, Suffolk
Words by Adrienne Schuter
More than a century ago that wouldn’t have been the case. In the late 1800s Southwold was no more than a humble fishing village with its inhabitants living just below the poverty line. Certainly not the wealthy enclave we know today. In Victorian times if you wanted to be seen taking the sea air high society, including Edward VII’s mistress Lilly Langtree, went to Great Yarmouth. It is fascinating to see how fortunes have been so entirely reversed.
The beauty of Southwold is its safe family-friendly environment, and that includes the family dog. In fact, Southwold is THE place if you want to enjoy a break together with man’s best friend. Nowhere on a Sunday morning have I seen so many dogs enjoying a romp on the beach, no matter what the weather.
Our weekend begins on the Friday evening. Luckily we are staying with friends who own a small terraced house just behind the high street. At this time of year parking in the town is at a premium though we have managed to get a space nearby. It’s a bit of a headache but once the car is parked safely you can pretty much forget about it because in Southwold everything is within walking distance.
It was late so we decided to get a takeaway from the conveniently located Chinese round the corner. If you fancy a pint of the local Adnams brew it’s only a short walk to The Crown but it had been a long day so we decide to treat ourselves to lunch there the following day.
Up early the next morning to take our over-excited terrier, Scout, for a run. From April to October dogs are not allowed on the beach or promenade unless on a lead, but you can let them run free once you have passed Gun Hill and are on the dunes. There is nothing more bracing than a jog in an early morning sea breeze with your four-legged companion along the beach. We are not alone. A couple of kite surfers are taking advantage of the windy start and we watch amazed at how skilful they are.
After breakfast it is time for a leisurely wander round the town and although Southwold has seen many changes from quaint market town to sophisticated destination it is still a pleasure to stroll along the high street to the promenade. We take a quick look in the charity shops then visit The Magpies artisan bakery for fresh bread and a cup of its excellent coffee.
Lunch at The Crown in the high street is a treat, although it is necessary to get there early to be sure of a table. The soup of the day is substantial and comes with a hunk of tasty homemade bread. If you have room try one of the delicious puddings, you’re going to walk it off anyway so why not?
A visit to the Serena Hall Gallery in Queen Street is on my local ‘things to do’ list. There is always something new and different to see. Established in 2000 with help from The Prince’s Trust Serena’s work is creative and colourful. Her enthusiasm and hard work was rewarded in 2008 by a visit from HRH The Prince of Wales himself, keen to see one of his trust’s successes.
By dinnertime we are ready for something traditional and opt for a walk to The Harbour Inn for a fish and chip supper. The fish here is really fresh and you don’t mind the wait if you are sipping a pint of Adnams in the evening sunshine.