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Aldeburgh's largely unspoilt, shingle beach is perfect for a leisurely summer stroll

© Creative Commons / fairlybuoyant

Aldeburgh beaches, Suffolk

The Suffolk coast is about as pretty and old-fashioned an experience of the English seaside as you will find, and the interesting, musical town of Aldeburgh is peaceful, is without an amusement arcade in sight. The town once sat further inland, but the sea swallowed the land and many medieval buildings. Today the town is famous for its cultural diary, the highlight of which is the June Aldeburgh Festival (www.aldeburgh.co.uk), founded by local composer Benjamin Britten.

Beach

Aldeburgh's pebbled, peaceful expanse shelves quite steeply to the sea and has a wide promenade running alongside it. Sandy areas are exposed at low tide. Maggi Hambling's huge, love-it-or-hate-it beach sculpture Scallop, is set on the seafront as a tribute to local hero Benjamin Britten.

Beyond the beach

Inland and close to Bury St Edmunds, National Trust property Ickworth House (www.nationaltrust.org.uk) is a magnificent rotund Italianate stately home containing works by Velasquez, Gainsborough and Titian. It's set in idyllic parkland and woodland, which are crisscrossed by marked trails and a family cycle route. You can even stay here, at the Ickworth Hotel (www.ickworthhotel.co.uk), in the east wing.

Family fun

Collecting pebbles and flying kites are the kind of action you'll find here. There's also a popular little boating lake for sailing model boats. The area around Aldeburgh is rich with walks, with plenty of coastal trails, including the Suffolk Coast and Heaths Path and the 8km (5 mile) Sailor's Path to the village of Snape.

Just to the north of Aldeburgh is Thorpeness, built in the 1900s by local landowner Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, who created it as a model seaside village. Featuring mock-Tudor architecture and fantastical water towers and islands, it's a magical place that you can explore by rowing boat.

South along the coast is the pretty medieval town of Orford, with its stretch of shingle beach. The National Trust offers boat trips across to the Orford Ness Nature Reserve from April to October, though only at weekends outside high summer.

Splashing out

Just along the coast at Orford you can eat fabulously fresh fish and shellfish at Butley Orford Oysterage, Market Square. This deceptively simple-looking place is the place to indulge in oysters - they are famous along the coast.

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