Walking in Suffolk reveals an older, unspoilt England of churchyards, atmospheric pubs and epic pastoral scenes that was once feted in art and literature and still adored by thespians and writers alike. Dates 2019: 7th - 13th July
Sometimes a painting says so much more than a photograph. Gainsborough's portrait of Mr and Mrs Andrews shows you a mid-eighteenth century Suffolk which has little changed since. This is my home county. It is England’s big sky county and it is that part of the south-east that has, miraculously, been left largely untouched, unmodernised. The walking is relatively flat so this is a good choice for people who do not like hills ... though there may be an occasional slope!
In many ways Suffolk will be exactly what you expect: historic and atmospheric pubs such as The Crown in Bildeston; quintessentially English villages such as medieval Lavenham and picturesque Dedham; cooked breakfasts and cream teas; half-timbered houses and oak-fringed, wet meadows. We manage to cram it all in.
Yet in other ways it will confound your expectations for over the years we have found that the food and local beers, produced by microbreweries, have only got better and better. The many gastropubs have transformed the reputation of English dining and we promise you that your palate will be satiated! There is exceptional work here. You have two top chefs appearing this week: Régis Crépy of The Great House, Lavenham and Chris Lee of The Crown, Bildeston. You will not be disappointed!
The beauty and untouched quality of Suffolk comes from the dearth in industry since the medieval days when the wool trade made this county one of the richest in England. Industry can so easily change the face of a countryside. Kersey, pictured here, was famous for its cloth and gets mentioned in Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew'. The extraordinary quality of richness of Suffolk's flat land lends itself to exceptional quality of farming and is the reason why you eat so well here with local, well sourced produce.
James hosts this trip. Hotels, restaurants and visits have been carefully selected to reveal the character and colour of Suffolk. All meals are included and lunch will be a mix of picnics, pubs and restaurants.
The Bildeston Crown is a stylishly renovated, original 16th century, timber-framed coaching inn. Award-winning chef, Chris Lee and his wife Hayley run it and you will be more than comfortable in one of the 12 en suite bedrooms. With beams and open fires, you can’t fail to feel at home here. TV and Wifi. 2 nights.
THE SUN INN
Dedham conjures up images of cream teas, Constable landscapes, pottering about in boats and flint stone Suffolk churches. The Sun Inn has every the bit the character to fit in with all of that with its bar, beamed dining room, snug oak-panelled lounge and open fires. 7 beautiful en suite bedrooms with sumptuous linen, Wifi, TV. 2 nights.
THE ANGEL INN
On the square in the heart of the ancient wool-trade town of Lavenham, the Angel offers characterful rooms overlooking the famous medieval square and Guildhall. There are modern touches like powerful showers and comfortable beds. All bedrooms are en suite with Wifi and TV. 2 nights.
Grade Of WalkingSuffolk is not renowned for its hills. We will cover a maximum of 59 kilometres. The walking here is very gentle through occasional undulations. The paths can be slightly overgrown and nettles can be along the edges. Nettles sting a little but you can avoid this by wearing walking trousers.
We always suggest walking the morning walk. For those feeling tired in the afternoon there is always a vehicle to take you back to the hotel. Our hotels have been carefully chosen (see ACCOMMODATION) so they are all excellent places for relaxing, reading and just taking it easy. The fact that we do not officially offer time in the villages that we stay in as we always have walks on offer means that often people will take an afternoon off to enjoy village life.
FOOD & WINE
The gastronomic pub in England has been on the rise for a decade and at the Bildeston Crown we will be sampling ‘Nedging Pork from head to toe’ which is a work of art. Dinner at The Great House in Lavenham is simply perfect, but then again so is steak and ale pie at The Cock Inn, Brent Eleigh.
Up until now England has been a consumer more than a grower but it's exciting to see that the excellent Nyetimber Sussex sparkling wine along with wines from Great Bardfield, Newhall and Wyken in East Anglia are proof that climate change could turn this situation on its head. We will sample all these and contrast them to wines from both the New World and Europe.
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SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT
7 Jul - 13 Jul