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Constable Country and the Suffolk Heritage Coast

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Homepage > England > Constable Country and the Suffolk Heritage Coast
  • Duration: 7 Nights
  • Difficulty: Level 2
  • Tour Type: Self Guided
  • Availability: Daily from May 17th to October 23rd
  • Location: Ipswich
Tour Details

On this self-guided bike vacation you shall cycle through one of England’s best kept secrets and enjoy some of the highlights of the delightful rural county of Suffolk. On this self-guided cycling holidays, you shall discover thatched cottages and oak-beamed pubs, imposing flint castles which are miracles of medieval architecture and the unspoiled heritage coastline. This area has been made famous by the painter Constable. Ride through timeless landscapes captured on canvass by one of England’s most renowned landscape painters, John Constable. Bring his painting to life.

Starting Location


Price Includes

  • 7 Nights bed and breakfast
  • Information Pack
  • Routes and Maps
  • Luggage transfers
  • GPS Files on request

Price Excludes

  • Transport before and after tour
  • Travel Insurance
  • Flights
  • Train ticket day 2 (approx. £6 Sept 2017)
  • Hybrid Bike Rental
  • E-Bike Rental
Trip Info

Route Characteristics

Cycling is mostly on very quiet country lanes, linked by short stretches of busier road. The terrain ranges from flat to gently rolling countryside.

Typical accommodation – Subject to Change

The Novotel www.novotel.com/ipswich
The Stoke by Nayland Hotel www.stokebynayland.com
The Bull Hotel www.oldenglishinns.co.uk
The Bell Inn   thebellrickinghall.co.uk
The Crown  westletoncrown.co.uk

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Hooked on Cycling that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the chosen activity and for emergency evacuation and hospital care.


Day 1Ipswich

Travel to Ipswich the county town of Suffolk and birthplace to Cardinal Wolsey, King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor. Ipswich is a busy market town with a medieval street plan including 13 medieval churches and some impressive historic buildings such as the 17th century Ancient House with its highly decorative plasterwork (‘pargetting’), the red brick stately home, Christchurch Mansion, (now a museum) with its beautiful parklands. The modern, lively waterfront contrasts with delightful restaurants and bars as well as the opportunity to take to a gentle cruise down the River Orwell.

Day 2Train to Needham Market and then to Stoke by Nayland 33-38 miles, 53-61km

After breakfast travel by train to Needham Market (depart Ipswich 0920, arrive Needham Market 0929 / Sundays and public holidays 0902, arriving 0912). You can decide to take luggage with you or leave it at the hotel. You will be met at the station and taken to pick up your bikes. Today you shall be cycling mostly on quiet country lanes with a few short stretches of busier road. You shall cycle south through rolling countryside towards the timeless English beauty of the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale, often referred to as “Constable Country”.

Here the water meadows of the River Stour and Flatford Mill are the still recognisable subjects of the renowned 18th-century landscape artist, John Constable. Like the painter’s birthplace at East Bergholt, the villages here, both great and small, have impressive churches and some wonderful half-timbered houses and rambling inns, testimony to the medieval wealth of the local wool trade. Your destination, Stoke by Nayland, is no exception.

Day 3Lavenham/Long Melford 28 miles 45km.

Today your cycle tour takes you through rolling countryside which leads across from Stoke by Nayland and the pretty village of Shelley to the fine ‘Wool Town’ of Hadleigh where a Tudor red-brick Deanery Tower sits alongside the most impressive medieval church topped with a spire and leaning houses with the bright pargetting line the main street. Then it is onto historic Kersey which together with nearby Chelsworth, counts amongst the prettiest villages in England.  You will cycle passing more historic farmsteads and villages which line the undulating route to the East Anglia’s most renowned wool town gem, Lavenham. Here the magnificent half-timbered Guildhall of Corpus Christi sits on the picturesque market square, surrounded by a labyrinth of tiny medieval streets with the mighty church of St Peter and St Paul looking down over the village. Now back on your bike you pass the stately homes of Melford Hall and Kentwell Hall to Long Melford.

Day 4Rickinghall 29-42 miles, 47-67km.

Today you have a couple of choices. Take more time to drink in the medieval sites of Lavenham then pedal gently on following the shorter of two rides through rural landscapes dotted with delightful historic villages sitting quietly on their greens. Stop off to wander around the woodlands and walled gardens at Thornham or at Georgian Haughley where ducks paddle in the moat of its one-time castle before reaching the village of Rickinghall.

Alternatively, the longer route drops in at the eccentric, oval stately home of Ickworth House a few miles outside the ancient market town of Bury St Edmunds. Bury is full of history, tiny streets and old Suffolk charm. Walkthrough the massive stone gateway to the ruined abbey flanked by beautiful gardens leading down to the River Lark. The cathedral here gained its impressive tower to celebrate the new millennium. There are a twice-weekly market and a chance for a drink at ‘The Nutshell’, the smallest pub in Britain. Definitely, a bustling town that is well worth a stop before cycling on to Rickinghall.

Day 5Westleton 33-39 miles, 54-62km.

Firstly, today you cycle along some beautiful lanes to Eye, a small historic town with some castle ruins. After a short visit, you continue by bike onto Saxtead Green. Here you can visit the beautifully restored 18th-century post mill. Cycling a little further you reach the charming village of Framlingham, a very English village with a bustling market square full of interesting little shops and a mighty 12th-century castle. It is worthwhile to walk around the castle walls for some stunning views of the town and its rolling Suffolk countryside and stop. Now you cycle along leafy lanes and open, undulating countryside which lead on towards the coast via several cottage-lined villages. Shortly you shall arrive Westleton and few miles from the coast. The shorter route misses Framlingham but adds the pretty village of Laxfield so you can sample the ale at the super-traditional ‘Low House’ pub.

Day 6 Loop Ride 28-35 miles, 45-55 km

Today you can enjoy a great circular ride which sweeps up to the market town of Halesworth before heading for the coast to a mix of smart seaside resorts and wild cliff and heath landscapes. First up, Halesworth has a wide range of historic facades and welcoming little shops, and the medieval St Mary’s church is worth a visit too before setting off on a circular route towards the coast to discover more of Suffolk’s historic treasures. Pass the post mill at Holton en route to Wangford, a village packed with a variety of cottages, time-honoured houses and an impressive coaching inn all with stories to tell.

The Suffolk Heritage Coast and Sole Bay are soon on the horizon together with Southwold, Suffolk’s very dignified and charming seaside town with wide open greens edged with smart, historic houses; a pier and lighthouse, excellent local brewery and a prom lined with really colourful beach huts. Now cross the River Blyth by a small bridge or foot ferry to historic Walberswick before continuing down the coast to Dunwich where priory ruins cling to the cliff tops and the heathlands become a sea of purple with the changing seasons. Just down the coast and close to Westleton, Minsmere is one of England’s best-loved bird reserves.

Day 7Ipswich 30-35 miles, 50-55 km.

First, you cycle along leafy lanes past the ruins of Leiston Abbey and the tiny village of Friston towards the winding creeks of the River Alde. Here at Snape Maltings, the Aldeburgh Festival concert hall sits amidst a great little collection of galleries, shops and antique sellers and is a lovely place to enjoy refreshments whilst drinking in the river views. Follow the lanes by Blaxhall’s heathlands past woods and historic parklands towards the next estuary and the bustling maritime town of Woodbridge with its marina and tide mill. Sutton Hoo, nearby site of a significant Anglo-Saxon ship burial, is full of treasures and the walks there give wonderful views across the River Deben. Finally continue across heathlands towards Ipswich, Suffolk’s county.

Day 8Departure

Leave your bikes at the hotel and depart after breakfast.


How to get there

By Plane to any London airport and then by train to Ipswich

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