Stories from Suffolk: Snape Maltings, Aldeburgh & Captain’s Wood

April and May have been packed-full of bank holidays here in the UK, which has made for ample opportunities to take a mini-vacay. On the second May bank holiday, Ross and I picked up a hire car from London and drove north east, to the beautiful rural county of Suffolk.

After a boozy session in the park the day before – celebrating Ross’ five-year London anniversary, yay! – it was a bit tricky getting up and at ’em early on a Sunday morning, but the sunshine and prospect of a fresh sea breeze helped to motivate us to make our way up the M25.

Without any strict agenda, we were free to stop into any village we liked. Not long after we began driving along the winding country roads of Suffolk did we reach Snape Maltings and, on a whim, pulled into the car park in front of a beautiful ivy-covered building, which was one of many industrial buildings on the site, originally built in Victorian times and used to malt barley.

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There were markets being held that day, and we rummaged through a treasure trove of bric-a-brac, antique furniture and clothing, and I came away with a mid-century preserve jar, at a price that you just couldn’t get in London!

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We sat down for a yummy pub lunch at Plough & Sail, and went for one last wander around the restored Maltings buildings and marshes that lay just behind the main music hall.

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Back in the car, we made for Aldeburgh, a quaint seaside town 20-minutes away. We walked along the pebble beachfront, which was dotted with interesting architecture – old and new.

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But we only had one thing on our mind – ice cream!

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Sweet treats in hand, we took a trip down the high street, admiring the beautiful houses and their gardens along the way.

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The next stop on our whirlwind tour of Suffolk was Captain’s Wood, an ancient woodland, which I was hoping would still have some traces of its famous bluebells! It was the very end of the season, so my expectations weren’t too high, but we moved through the trees in anticipation, on the hunt for any signs of purpley-blue amongst the green.

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Apart from passing one other couple, Ross and I found ourselves completely alone in Captain’s Wood, which has been owned by noblemen, bishops and wealthy families – and now the Suffolk Wildlife Trust – over the course of one-thousand years.

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It was almost eerily quiet, and we both wondered – sinisterly – whether the woods might be inhabited by the ghosts of some noblemen past…

Eventually, I spotted the hue of bluebells, and we quietly cheered and felt lucky to have caught the last of the fleeting flowers, before they completely disappeared for the year. And don’t worry – I was careful not to trample on them to get my victory snap!

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We continued along the trail, enjoying the eerie beauty of the woods. Eventually we came to the edge of the dense trees and walked out into a clearing, where we found a whole herd of deer! (Pictured here off in the distance.)

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Away from the shade of the thick greenery and potential wood-dwelling ghosts, we finished our walk and got back into the car, driving towards to our final stop of the day. We drove to Saxmundham – a market town not too far away – and met our B&B host, who served us tea in the garden and recommended a nearby pub for dinner.

We recapped the wonderful day over a glass of wine and lots of yummy food at dinner, before reading a few pages in bed and falling fast asleep.

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