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  • Writer's pictureClaire

A week's stay in Suffolk Part 1 - Flatford; Orford and West Stow Saxon Village

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

The theme of this weeks van trip was to discover more about the Saxons and Suffolk is one of the best places in the UK to do that, however we soon discovered that Suffolk has way more to offer than I realised. We decided to camp at the Camping & Caravan Clubs Polstead Campsite. This was one of the best campsites I have stayed in, lots of space, wonderfully clean amenities and a good playground spot for the children. The hard pitch this time of year is now a new must for me. Before we arrived at the campsite we decided to visit Flatford Mill and have the chance to walk in a real painting by visiting Constable's country and spot the famous Hay Wain. This National Trust site is home to various sites that John Constable painted and there is an exhibition of the life and work of the man himself.

After a cold start on Sunday we decided to head to Orford. This part of the Suffolk coastline and heaths is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and I had plotted out a decent walk for us to do. On arrival we spotted the towns famous Pump Street Bakery, and decided to visit to get some picnicables for the walk. We couldn't resist the array of pastries on display and had one with a coffee before we set off.

Our walk took us through Orford Village and then, up through the Marshes to view Orford Castle then back down the coastline back into the village again, around 4 miles. Sadly the.Castle was shrouded in scaffolding for renovations at this time, but that didn't spoil the walk. The coastline was magical with lots of migrating geese and other waterfowl, so is a birdwatchers paradise.

Being a bit of a foodie, I had also heard that Orford has a well known fish smokery called Pinney's, famous for its smoked fish but also growing Butley Oysters. At the end of the walk we decided to eat at Pinney's restaurant Butley Orford Oysterage, as a fan of oysters I couldn't resist. However this place was a real find. The menu was full to the brim with all sorts of fishy delights. After a round of Oysters, we had between us Grilled Mussells, Prawn Pil Pil and Smoked Prawns. This place really kicked off our holiday vibe!

On Day 3 I promised my eldest some Saxon activities as this is what he has just been learning this term, so we visited West Stow Saxon Village & Country Park. West Stow is the site of an early Anglo-Saxon village, occupied from AD 420-650, over 400 years before the Norman Conquest.

As an important archaeological site, it enabled these experts to theoretically reconstruct the Saxon buildings as the ruins showed to them how they might have been built; therefore there are 8 reconstructed buildings for you to walk in, which really brings this period of history to life. There is also an exhibition of the artefacts found during the dig. All this coupled with a nature trail and adventure playground makes this a great family day out.

You can find the walk around Orford in this OS Pathfinder book

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