Liz Mattock helps you plan a weekend away.
If you are planning a weekend in East Anglia, there is nowhere better than the small market town of Beccles in stunning south Suffolk. It may be small but it has a lot to offer.
You won’t be stuck for things to do in Beccles, with adventures at every turn for all members of the family, old or young, sea farer or land goer – there is something for everyone.
Angels & Pinnacles
Explore the enchanting medieval churches of Suffolk including Beccles’ very own creation, St Michaels Church with vibrant stain glass and depictions. A day exploring the rich religious history provides an educational day out for the kids, but a lush lesson in architecture and history for adults too. The church opens 10am until 4pm. There is no charge but voluntary donations are welcome. Find out more at www.angelsandpinnacles.org.uk/churches/beccles-st-michael
The Suffolk Walking Festival sweeps through Beccles for its 11th year this summer. The festival runs from 12 May until 3 June and will be launched at St Peters Hall in Bungay. This year the programme of events is bigger and better than ever with over 120 different themed and led walks from one mile to 60 and welcomes walkers both new and old.
Routes take walkers through beautiful Suffolk scenery, over road, fi eld and path and suits all abilities, groups, single explorers and families alike. Try Nordic walking or classic walks which take place over a number of days and some really tough terrain. See www.suffolkwalkingfestival.co.uk for more information.
Pop down to the Urban Jungle Plant Nursery & Café where the exotic goes beyond the plants on offer for the coffees and cakes, gifts and home trinkets available there too. Walk through the nursery and café and be immersed into a jungle world, far from the surrounding Suffolk countryside.
Pick up some advice on growing a healthy cactus or bonsai tree or pick up some tips for chilli growing. Cosy furniture, hot coffee and refreshments greet you at the end of your long adventure to the jungle land. Enjoy brunch from 10am, with a full lunch and sharing menu available from midday. If you are visiting with adults, the space also serves up a tasty cocktail, meaning you’ll just have to stay the night at one of the nearby cosy guesthouses. www.urbanjungle.uk.com
Hooray it’s off to Bungay!
If it’s a shopping and history weekend break you’ve got your heart set on, you’ll find it in Bungay. A little livelier but still just as easy on the eye as its neighbour Beccles, the town offers independent shops and one of the oldest theatres around.
You won’t be stuck for something to eat and drink whilst exploring the area with streets dotted with local pubs and café’s. Some of the quirkier options include the Suffolk Stonehouse located on Lower Olland Street, serving stone-baked pasta and pizza by the plateful and the Bhan Thai serving authentic Thai cuisine on Earsham Street.
With full tummies and heavy shopping bags, why not book a room at The Castle Inn, offering cosy guestrooms and dining?
If you are planning an extended weekend trip, you might be lucky to catch the weekly street market selling jams, honey, Suffolk cured ham, fruit and vegetables – all made by local producers. The market is held weekly on a Thursday from 7am until they sell out.
If you find yourself with a spare afternoon during your trip, Bigod Castle is well worth a visit. The Bigods were a well-known Norman family who assisted King William with the Conquest of England in 1066. The castle was a gift from King William to the family for their assistance. The grounds and castle-standing is a sight to behold. The castle is free to visit but voluntary donations are welcome. Warm up afterwards at the aptly named Jesters coffee serving hot drinks and light bites. http://www.bungay-suffolk.co.uk/activities/castle.asp.