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High 5: Seaside Suffolk

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Undeveloped and ever-popular, the Suffolk coast never fails to lure me. Here are my five recommendations if you’re ever in the area and near the sea:

Canoe creeks along the Alde
“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats”, says Ratty in The Wind in the Willows. But often it’s not quite that simple to arrange. At least, that was, until Iken Canoe sprang up on the River Alde, between Snape and Aldeburgh. Perched on the water’s edge, this green boatshed is the starting point for paddle-powered adventures. Explore creeks in a kayak or Canadian canoe, spotting seals, avocets and, if you’re lucky, otters.

Savour the flavours of a Suffolk smokehouse
It’s old news that Suffolk’s a magnet for foodies, but I can’t not mention Pinney’s of Orford. With local oyster beds in Butley Creek – and a smokehouse, too – the Butley Orford Oysterage is the place to try Suffolk’s seafood. The restaurant’s simple and frill-free, but the cooking is fantastic – both the smoked produce and the fresh fish. If I really had to choose, my favourites would include the smoked fish pâté, smoked prawns and fish pie. And, if you still have room, the sticky toffee pudding’s pretty good as well.

Take a trip on the Lady Florence
Taking in both the Alde and Ore rivers, and continuing down towards Shingle Street (which, were there to be a number six in this list, would definitely be it), the Lady Florence is a river boat restaurant (for up to 12 people) which departs from Orford each day on a number of cruises. Opt for brunch, lunch or dinner aboard the converted motor fishing boat – now complete with a coal fire for cosy sails in winter – for a journey along these idyllic and tranquil waterways.

Admire Suffolk’s very own horse
Rarer than the Giant Panda, the Suffolk Punch is a historic symbol of the county. To admire this beautiful chestnut heavy horse, a visit to The Suffolk Punch Trust and Colony Stud in Hollesley is a must. Set up in 2008, following the sale of the farm by the nearby prison, the centre is home to the stud of Suffolk Punches, as well as other Suffolk breeds: Red Poll cattle and the oldest registered flock of Suffolk sheep in the county.

Substitute the London Proms for Snape
A concert hall in a former malthouse, Snape Maltings holds its own Proms each year, with a performance every night in August. The summer 2013 line-up includes everything from world-renowned musicians Alison Balsom, Lesley Garrett and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to poetry proms, family sing-a-longs, Oliver! the musical and even folk-pop troubadours. ‘Prom’ at the front, or book a seat at this picturesque riverside setting.

Helena Hamlyn

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