About Southwold beaches, Suffolk
The Suffolk coast is the refined version of the English seaside experience, with pretty Georgian towns and tasteful piers. The main industry these days is tourism, but the towns here remain small and unspoilt, in part because of the problem of erosion along this stretch of coastline. The pretty town of Southwold is the picture of middle-class gentility, with its candy-coloured beach huts, lovely sandy beach and work-of-art pier.
Southwold’s balmy, sandy Blue Flag stretch is backed by picturesque painted beach huts – ideal for a day of civilised seaside diversion, featuring deckchairs, sandwiches and thermos, perhaps even a panama hat. Towards Walberswick, the beach huts peter out and the beach is backed by dunes, until it meets the estuary of the River Blyth. There’s a full lifeguard service in summer.
Beyond the beach:
Southwold’s 15th-century Church of St Edmund is a spectacular, huge and solid medieval church, with soaring interior arches, elegant tall windows and panelled roof. It houses a fine wooden screen and has some wonderful carved hand rests, featuring curious features such as a monkey preaching and a man playing two pipes.
Southwold is almost an island, with the North Sea to the east, the River Blyth and the harbour to the southwest and Buss Creek to the north – meaning lots of water based amusements, including waterskiing, windsurfing and sea- and riverboat trips.
The town’s endearing little pier dates back to 1899 and features none of the usual seaside tack, very much in keeping with the refined air of the resort. Even the slot machines are old-fashioned pleasures and there are some alternative, extraordinary sculptural slot machines ‘under the pier’ (www.underthepier.co.uk), including a cheeky Water Clock and the Bathyscope all created by local artist Tim Hunkin.
Elsewhere around Southwold there are pretty coastal walks, or you can take a boat trip along the coast with Coastal Voyager (www.coastalvoyager.co.uk), which offers various trips from the speedy Sea Blast to the gentle River Cruise. You could also cross to Walberswick via ferry over the River Blyth, then walk back via the footbridge that once carried the old Southwold Railway. Other watery activities include fishing (www.beachfishing.org.uk) and kayaking with Southwold Canoe Group.
Join an English tradition stretching back to the seaside’s 19th-century heyday and hire one of Southwold’s famous candy-coloured beach huts. Once hired you can indulge in some cosy nostalgia, drinking tea and hopefully basking in the sun on the porch.