Plan your trip to Beccles & Bungay
Lying in the north of Suffolk in the Waveney Valley are two unique towns. You may initially think to by-pass them but read-on to uncover why they are full of Suffolk character and worthy of a visit this spring.
Beccles lies on the banks of the River Waveney and is a charming market town described as peaceful as it is popular. It is made up of small market squares and winding streets with unusual and quirky independent shops, restaurants and cafes.
The River Waveney which divides the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk offers visitors to Beccles the opportunity to take plenty of river walks and take to the river too. The Marsh Trail which starts from the Quay in Beccles leads you through typical grazing marshes on routes in length from 1.5 miles, which are suitable for wheelchair users, up to those 4 miles long.
A visit to Beccles should include a visit to the popular quayside, once a herring port, which is now home to a myriad of cruisers. Here you can take a day cruiser which gives you access to explore the Southern Broads with its pubs, cafés, and picnic areas where you can relax, unwind, and simply enjoy watching the water and wildlife.
If taking the helm is not for you, there is the Big dog ferry which runs from spring through to autumn on a 3-mile journey between Beccles Lido and Geldeston Locks Inn. The Locks Inn which was granted a public house license in the 17th Century is situated far out into the marshes.
Next stop is Bungay. Head approximately 6.5 miles west from Beccles along the B1602 and you will arrive in a town rich in folklore, culture and real ale.
Bungay’s famous folklore tale is of Black Shuck, Old Shuck or simply Shuck and is the name given to a ghostly black dog which is said to have allegedly appeared in 1577 at Bungay. There are references to this ‘devil dog’ throughout the town with even gin and beer being named after it.
This charming town has the remains of a Norman Castle, with a visitor centre, café and gift shop. There is plenty of interpretive material on display to help you imagine what the castle would have been like in the early 12th Century. Admission to the Castle Keep is free, but donations are welcomed.
To find out more about all the treasures in this town, there is the Bungay Town Trail. The trail starts from the Market Place and will take around two hours to complete. There are several other walks that can be started from near the Castle, the Bigod Way, being a popular one for the more experienced walker. This walk is around 10 miles long and takes in many sites of historical interest along with the opportunity to view rare plants and a variety of wildlife.
If real ale appeals there is the Bungay Real Ale Trail where you can stop off and sample a range of local ales, with many of the original thirty-three 20th Century drinking houses still in operation. Well worth a visit is the close-by St. Peters Brewery based at St. Peter South Elmham. From Easter until end of December you can go on a brewery tour to see how they brew ‘traditional’ beers as well as some of their more unusual beers such as honey porter and fruit beer.
The meandering and scenic Waveney valley is a popular place for canoeists to take to the river. Canoes are available to hire for adults and children from Outney Meadow Caravan Park in Bungay. This is a great way to enjoy the countryside and hopefully spot some of the wildlife living close-by or on the river.
To find out about more things to see and do in Beccles and Bungay www.visitsuffolk.com
To get there by bus and train
By Bus: Local bus services to Beccles Bus Station leave from Lowestoft and Norwich.
Timetables and further information can be found at www.suffolkonboard.com
By Train: The town’s rail station is located on Station Road, Beccles, NR34 9QW. The nearest train station for Bungay is located at Beccles (15 minute journey by car or taxi from station)
Marsh Trail – www.visitwaveneyvalley.co.uk
Blackdog Ferry www.bigdogferry.co.uk – Runs from Easter – October (Charters available). Tel. 07532 072 761 (8am-8pm) for info and bookings
Bungay town trail – www.bungay-suffolk.co.uk
Canoe Hire – outneymeadow.co.uk