Having lived in West Suffolk now for 40 odd years I know quite a lot of the County and the two bordering counties of Norfolk and Cambridge, both under 10 miles from our house. So I will start with giving some information on West Suffolk.
Through out the page I will be giving information for Members of the Caravan Club who with a token from the Day's Out Supplement or printing one from the CC Website and your Membership Card you can deals of 2 persons for the price of 1 and for some places half price family tokens.
I will also list at the end of each, County/Region, National Trust Properties to visit.
We stayed here for two night at the end of March to test our van out after thee Winter ready for the off to Europe in mid April.
It was a lovely sunny and quite warm weekend there were 3 other vans on the site with us. It is a a very friendly site and very well kept. Each pitch has Water, Grey Water Disposal and TV point installed. EHU is available to.
In one corner of the field there is a small hut in which all the information you need for emergencies and the area are available. There is an excellent stock of books to borrow and read. The owners Mr and Mrs Overton are very friendly and helpful. They know what Caravanners/Motorhomer's need as they have a caravan themselves.
This small market town which has a splendid Church in the center which is one of the famous Wool Churches, two more being at Lavenham and Long Melford, built with money donated by wool merchants who use to ship their wares up and down the River Lark. These churches have large and imposing Towers and are also spectacular buildings.
The town is situated in a part of the County which is relatively flat with the Fens starting on the north side of Mildenhall it sits on the River Lark which flows from above Bury St Edmunds to the River Great Ouse near to Ely through the Fens which, though so flat, have a charm of their own as do the people living there. Mildenhall which has a market on the place on Fridays, adjacent to the monumental Market Cross where the wool merchants sold their wool. On the Market Place you will find a few shops, a couple of Cafe's and the two Doctors Surgeries. There are now just two Banks, Lloyd's TSB and Barclay's, Two supermarkets, a small Sainsbury's which will be very large in March 2011 when the new store opens, right in the center of town, the other is a small Co-Op, where inside you will find the Post Office. Walking around the town you will find several Restaurants Chinese, Thai, Italian and Indian. The newly vamped Riverside Hotel is worth a visit. On the way out of town towards Mildenhall Airbase of Amy Johnson fame in the past, is the excellent Caravan Sales Center, M & M Leisure, which at the moment is open 6 days a week not sure whether they will be opening again on Sunday's in the 2011 Spring/Summer season. Besides Elddis and Coachman caravans they have an excellent workshop and accessory shop with a very knowledgable and friendly staff.
The base is an attraction to Aeroplane enthusiasts being the USAF main transport base for Europe. Lakenheath Airbase just 2/3 miles away is the largest USAF Fighter Base outside of the USA. You will find a view area at the latter base but the one at Mildenhalll has been closed in recent year.
Outside Mildenhall and listed as Barton Mills is the Round Plantation Caravan Club Site, situated in what is the start of Thetford Forest. This is manned by Volunteer Wardens and very reseanably priced to CC Member Only. A very pleasant site to stop at to see the surrounding area.
Another Caravan Site is the CL at Holywell Row just past the Airbase. The owner of this CL is a member of this website and he has developed this site over 10 years and each pitch is fully serviced with water, electric's, tv and grey water disposal, the latter being constructed at the moment. The site is in the corner of a meadow belonging to the farm adjacent to a wood and the gound being of firm sand and free draining it is not necessary to put in hard standings. The name is Wildmere Farm, Holywell Row and can be seen on Caravan Club CL page on their website. Open All Year too.
Mildenhall has a very interesting little Museum in King Street. opposite the Hardwear, Computing and Building Material store of Bussens and Parkin. In the museum is a replica of the Mildenhall Treasure dug up by a local farmer in a neighbouring village.
West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village is very interesting and is situated just outside Icklingham not far up the road on the B1101 from Five Ways Roundabout. You can visit the rebuilt old cottages and visit the Visitor Centre Cafe and Shop.
8 miles from Barton Mills, down the A 11 to the South and London lies Newmarket Heath leading to the smashing little market town of Newmarket. Depending on the time of day you are travelling into the town you will be confronted with Race Horses, who take pride of place in this area and you will have to stop to let them across the road. It is a wonderful site to see them galloping across the heath.
The Market is held on a Tuesday and Saturday at the end of the modern shopping area nmed the Guineas. Quite a few shops along here some under cover. you reach the largest shop a small, but very busy, Marks and Spencer next to the Market Place. At the Northern end of the town is a large Waitrose with a huge free carpark, across the road is a multistory carpark with reasonable charges, which is approached from a roundabout by the Clock Tower at the northern end of the High Street. There is another Pay and Display carpark up the first turn right after the Clock Tower down the High Street. The High Street has many nice shops and all the usual multiples. At the far end on the left is the Horse Racing Museum and the Jockey Club with the Post Office next door. At the end of the High Street going onto the Heath at that southern end, where the famous Racecourse is situated and the National Stud. On the way out to Cambridge and London is the other course named the July Racecourse.
At the Horse Racing Museum if a member of the Caravan Club you can get in two person for the price of one with a token from Day's Out Supplement or by printing it off the their Website, and showing your Membership Card.
An interesting fact of Newmarket is that this was the home of the factory of the original Sprite Caravan, but sadly went bust and has now long gone.
Travelling north on the A 11 (yet to be dualled) from Barton Mills over the Fiveways Roundabout you will travel through a part of the Thetford Forest and come to the famous large War Mamorial Monument. There use to be carpark and picnic area here but it was closed some years ago now as this part of the road was an accident black spot. Further on just a few miles is you turn left towards Brandon, at the cross roads with traffic lights, on the road that is signed Center Parks and go down a few hundred yards you will see a sign to go right to Elveden Estates Restaurant and Shops. These shops are a real Alladins Cave and have unique and unusual gifts etc., The Delicatessen at the entrance to the shops, sells some wonderful products some homemade, has its own Butchery with local grown meats. Fine wines are also sold here + confectionery, sweets and cakes.
The AA Rosette Restaurant, beyond the Delicatessen, seating 80 persons has home cooked food of a very high standard at reasonable prices, served in a good and pleasant surroundings. This whole complex belongs to the Elvedon Estate with the Hall being on the other side of the A 11 in the village of Elveden. It is owned by Lord Ivaugh who incidently, is a direct decendent of Arthur Guiness, thus many Guiness related gifts in the shops. Website http://www.elveden.com/
To the South East of Mildenhall, 12 miles away, is the lovely old market town of Bury St Edmunds where a market is held every Wednesday and Saturday. There is much history in this lovely town, The Abbey Gardens, always beautifully kept where the old Abbey stood in which the Gun Powder Plot was formulated, nearby is the beautiful (started in 11th century and finished 2005) St Edmunds Cathedral showing off the amazing new 150 ft stone lantern tower built by the Millennium Fund which completed the Cathedral in 2005. In November the new organ was completed with the painting of the external woodwork, painted on site is amazingly beautiful. The other interesting things are the chairs used by Prince Charles and Camilla, specially carved in Suffolk for the consecration by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2009. In March 2010 a mosiac vaulted ceiling was installed under the tower and below is a mirror where you can view the beauty of this. For more info on this exquiste old Cathedral go to http://www.stedscathedral.co.uk/ Lunches, Tea's and Coffee's can be purchased in the Refectory Tea Rooms, well worth a visit.
Across the square from the Cathedral stands the famous Angle Hotel, where Charles Dickens stayed and Bury St Edmunds is mentioned in Pickwick Papers. The Charles Dickens Suite is still available in the Hotel and still has the very bed Dickens slept in.
Moving on from the Hotel, Abbey Gardens and Cathedral go up Abbey Gate Street , turn right and along onto the Market Place where you will find many shops including a good Marks and Spencer store. Along the top of the market place you will find Boots and W H Smiths and at the back of these walk up the alley way by Sneezums, jewllery shop, to the new outdoor Arc Shopping Center with the big store of Debenhams. Ample car parking here with more close by at the side of Debenhamsis a cut through to Waitrose where you can park and redeem your fee back by shopping in Waitrose before depature. Along side you will find, PC World, Bennetts Electircal and Halfords.
Museum to visit is Moyse's Hall on Cornhill (Market Place) all info for Bury are at http://www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/
The West Suffolk Hospital is situated just outside the town and is an excellent NHS Hospital I can thoroughly recommend it from past experiences, some of late 2010.
When in this area of Suffolk you must not miss this wonderful Medieval Town with all its Crooked, Timbered houses, Hotel and Ancient Wool Hall and Museum. There are many lovely cafes and restaurants here plus unusual gift and antique shops. Plenty of parking on the main street and in the square behind the High Street. On the square is where the National Trust Wool Hall is situated and also in the adjoining street from the famous Swan Hotel is the Information Office.
Going South East from Bury St. Edmunds and down the A 14 you will run into the Eastern part of the county which has the lovely coastel area.
There are many interesting places to visit inland such as Woodbridge with its picturesque Tide Mill and Riverside. A car free shopping area and nearby car parking. On the outskirts of the town is the National Trust Site of Sutton Hoo well worth a visit.
Another nice town is Framlingham with its old castle.
By the coast you will find the lovely olde worlde town of Aldburgh with its famouse Fish and Chip Shop, which we in Suffolk, think the best in England. On the Southern side of the coast where the River Alde runs along side the coast to Orford stands the, furthest north Martello Tower, far beyond that in the distance you can see the towering masts of BBC World. Inland you can make your way to the riverside, near to the sea, pretty village of Orford, also with a Norman Castle and the Hotel that Ruth Watson of TV Hotel Inspector owns. If you drive down to the quay you can take the NT ferry to The Ness of World War 11 fame and the Lighthouse or book a passage for Lunch or Dinner on the old boat Lady Francis while sailing up and down the Alde River.
On the way to Orford you will pass the famous Snape Maltings with cafe and exiting shops plus the famous Benjamin Britten Concert Hall.
Further South down the coast, but you will have to go inland to get there is Felixstowe, home of the large container port. At Languard Point you can visit the Fort which is very interesting. The town itself has many shops and north of the town is the hamlet Felixstowe Ferry, which you cross the Golf Coarse to reach. Pubs and Fish Restaurant and Sale Stall here and a foot passenger ferry acrossthe Deben to Bawdsey of RAF fame in WW11 for being the Home of Radar, where it was first developed and tested. Incidently on the Golf Course stands another Martello Tower.
Going back to Aldeburgh, and north up the coast, you can visit two pretty little villages Dunwich, which was the largest port in England till it eroded away. The Heath run by the National Trust is worth a visit and lovely walking and picnicing area. National Trust owns the car park and has a small cafe and gift shop. Walberswick. two nice little giftshops here one has a very nice cafe. Here you can get on a small foot passenger ferry to Southwold or if you go by car it is nice ride as you cannot get across the river here by car.
Southwold is another old fashioned town which has a tiny market on Monday's and Thursday's. The Tourist Information is situated at 69, High Street amoungst a good variety of shops.
The Lighthouse is a good place to visit and is situated just in land a bit. Famous Beach huts line the shoreline on the Promenade, they fetch thousands of pounds. The other highlight of Southwold is the Pier re-built and extended being completed in 2001. It is worth being near the end of the pier at the hour to watch the extraordinary clock perform. Looking back from the end of the pier you get a wonderful view of this lovely town, treat yourself to a coffee, tea or lunch in the restaurant and feast your eye's on the goodies in the little shop.
Another two places to visit are the Electric Picture Palace opened by Micheal Palin in 2002 and the Adnams Brewery. For more info go to http://www.southwold.co.uk/
Further north, up the coast, is Lowestoft at one time a large fishing port.
To read more about this and most of the other places I have mentioned in Suffolk plus other's not mentioned, as there is so much to see, go to the excellent website http://www.suffolktouristguide.com/
National Trust Properties and Sites in Suffolk:-
Ickworth House. Melford Hall Sutton Hoo. Orford Ness. Dunwich Cliffs and Heath. info at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
RSPB Reserves:- Minsmere. Havergate Island. North Warren. Lakenheath Fen. info at http://www.rspb.org.uk/