Thinking about something different to do for Christmas this year? Helmingham Hall’s Illuminated Garden Trail is a festive extravaganza, set to light up the 510-year-old private estate – it’s really a sight to see!
Taking place from 2nd to 13th December, the Illuminated Garden Trail at Helmingham Hall is perfect for a romantic evening out while you’re staying in Suffolk at our Barges or Barns.
Not only will you be able to experience the grounds of this amazing private estate all lit up for Christmas, there will also be some delicious food available, as well as independent shops and kiosks for you to purchase some unique Christmas gifts – or just get some inspiration!
It’s also a dog-friendly event! So feel free to take along your well-behaved dog, and bring your lead.
To find out more about Helmingham Hall and this very special event, click here.
The red deer rut is a one-of-a-kind spectacle of nature and marks the height of autumn in the county of Suffolk! For everything you need to know about how to see the red deer rut in Suffolk, read on…
What is the red deer rut?
Taking place in autumn, specifically the month of October, the red deer rut is a part of the mating process for red deer.
Mating begins with the females of the species gathering in a large herd. This herd is then joined by large, fierce stags, who are ready to intimidate each other in front of their potential mates. The stags tip their heads back and roar into the air; the one with the loudest roar becomes the dominant male, and essentially wins his harem of females.
However – and this is where it gets really interesting – if there is another stag with a similarly loud roar and a taste for dominance, the two will battle it out using their antlers. They’ll clash together and lock antlers until one becomes injured or backs down, and the winner will take his position as the dominant male of the harem. The fight usually doesn’t last long, but it is a very exciting part of nature in the Suffolk countryside!
Incredible facts about red deer
Did you know that red deer are the largest land mammals in the UK? These majestic animals can grow to around four feet tall, minus their antlers! Although their size is rather intimidating, most red deer (even park deer) will try to escape if a human or other large animal gets too close. However, it’s important not to approach male deer, especially during mating season, as they will display aggressive behaviour.
Formerly extinct across much of the UK in the 1700s, conservationists have worked extremely hard to bring populations back to life. The national population has now reached 360,000, with a large percentage based in Scotland. Here in Suffolk, we’re very lucky to have one of the largest populations of red deer outside of Scottish borders!
Where to see the red deer rut in Suffolk
RSPB Minsmere is, without a doubt, the best place to see the red deer rut in Suffolk. Following a brief closure during the COVID-19 lockdown, all trails and most hides are now open, allowing you to see the deer, as well as a huge range of autumn migrating birds and wonderful flora across the reserve. Most paths on the trails are wide enough to allow for social distancing, ensuring a safe and positive environment for visitors of all ages.
RSPB Minsmere is open from dawn until dusk, with the visitor centre open between 9am-5pm from 1st February to 31st October, and 9am-4pm from 1st November to 31st January.
Tickets are £9 per adult and £5 for children under 19 (first child gets free entrance, and children under 5 go free). Student tickets are £6 each.
Can I bring my dog?
At RSPB Minsmere, dogs are not allowed on trails or in the hides. However, maps are available for walking dogs locally in the area. We also have a selection of blog posts about where you can take your dog, on our ‘Where Do We?’ website.
Where to stay in Suffolk during the red deer rut
We welcome you to stay on board our unique, historic Suffolk Holiday Barges. These stunning static Barges are available for couples, families and groups of friends looking for a relaxing stay in wonderful Suffolk. Our Onderneming Barge is based in the charming village of Snape Maltings and sleep 6, while Twee Gebroeders is based in the market town of Woodbridge and sleeps 4. Both have been refurbished to a high standard, and feature their own kitchen and dining facilities, bathrooms, comfortable bedrooms, cosy living areas and central heating.
Onderneming is a half-hour drive from RSPB Minsmere, while Twee Gebroeders is 45 minutes away. It’s the perfect location for an autumn day out! Want to dive into a snug Suffolk pub for a drink and a hearty meal after walking around the reserve? Click here to view our favourite Suffolk pubs located near our Barges!
The Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival is a much-loved event in the Suffolk event calendar – however, this year’s event will be a little bit different. Read on for the lowdown of what’s happening during the 2020 festival.
What is the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival
Widely regarded as one of the best annual food festivals in the country, this event brings together dozens of local producers of fresh food, drink, confectionery and more. It’s the place to be if you want to fill your fridge and pantry with mouth watering produce – and indulge in a cheeky, freshly-made meal while you’re browsing.
Not only that, but you can meet the producers themselves, and grill them about food miles, sustainable practices, and more. It’s a great way to learn about the thriving food industry in Suffolk.
The event takes place at the stunning riverside village of Snape, which is also where one of our beautiful, Historic Suffolk Holiday Barges is based! The Barge, Onderneming, sleeps six guests and up to three dogs, and features three bathrooms, two large lounge and dining areas, two kitchens and stunning river views. We clean both of our Barges thoroughly following each visit, ensuring that our guests are safe and happy during their stay.
What’s changing for 2020?
As a precautionary measure in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival is undergoing a few temporary changes this year. On 26th to 27th September, a ‘Market Weekend’ will replace the festival. Don’t worry – it’ll still take place at Snape Maltings, and there will be over 50 local producers spread across the grounds of the outdoor event area, plus entertainment and street food kiosks.
Unfortunately, this year’s event will lack the live chef demonstrations and masterclasses of previous years, but the market itself will be a wonderful experience!
Where to get tickets for the Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival 2020
Tickets are FREE this year! However, to enable the festival to keep going for future years and to keep bringing local producers together for the event, the arrangers are asking for optional donations with bookings. You can book your tickets via the festival website here. Be aware that festival visitor numbers will be limited to allow for social distancing measures, so make sure to book well in advance.
As our Holiday Barges and Cottages are so popular, we recommend booking well in advance – especially for popular Suffolk events! We do have some space available for later in the autumn and winter. It’s a beautiful time of year to visit Suffolk, so book now to enjoy the beauty that our county has to offer!
Love classical music? Or just want to try something different? Not only is the Suffolk music scene bursting with life in the genres of pop, rock, jazz and more, it’s also a hub for classical music – and arts complex Snape Maltings is the number one place in the county to get your fill.
The history of Snape Maltings
Built in the 19th century by entrepreneur Newson Garrett, the maltings were originally intended for converting barley into malt for beer production. Snape, the village in which the maltings are situated, although small, had a bustling inland port in the 1800s. Through this port, malted barley, fertiliser and sugar beet were exported to London and the rest of the UK. However, as production in other towns grew, output in Snape declined and the maltings closed in 1960 as a result.
Luckily, for us and many other music and art lovers out there, legendary British composer Benjamin Britten was on the lookout for the perfect location for a concert hall. Britten had already established the Aldeburgh Music Festival in 1948 in collaboration with singer Peter Pears and writer Eric Crozier; however, its new 832-seat home in the largest malthouse at Snape Maltings was far more suitable than the various churches and town halls in which it was previously hosted.
The concert hall was officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II in 1967. Its popularity with both the public and renowned and aspiring musicians prompted Britten and Pears to convert further disused buildings on the site into rehearsal spaces and teaching rooms, cementing Snape Maltings as a centre for music on the Suffolk coast.
The next big revamp came in 2006, when Aldeburgh Music purchased a 999 year lease on the Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The organisation invested around £14m into the venue, which, three years later, became the ‘Creative Campus’ with four performance venues and many rehearsal and public spaces.
The Aldeburgh Music Festival
Despite its name, Aldeburgh Music Festival’s permanent location is Snape Maltings, which is a 5-mile drive from Aldeburgh town centre. The festival takes place over two weeks in June each year, and hosts dozens of classical musical acts from around the world.
During this time, there are also various art exhibitions taking place in the galleries around the maltings. These exhibitions showcase a range of artists working in an assortment of mediums, from photography to moving images, to paintings and sculpture.
Snape Proms takes place each August and welcomes musicians from around the world, from solo artists to orchestras. Make sure you get tickets early to this intimate event, which offers floor seating (bring a comfy pillow!) to provide a close-up view of the action.
Don’t think that all the classical music fun takes place in summer! Britten Weekend happens over a weekend in autumn, and celebrates Snape Maltings’ founder and his impact on the world of music.
Visit Snape Maltings’ website to find out more about these events, including dates, dress code, ticket prices and more.
Staying in Snape
Snape is such a unique and inspiring part of the country (which is one of the reasons why Britten wanted to move the Aldeburgh Festival here!), so why not stay inspired by booking accommodation right outside Snape Maltings on a historic Dutch barge? Our spacious Onderneming barge is no more than a two minute’s walk from the concert halls, and we provide all the luxuries that you might need to enjoy a culturally fulfilling stay in Suffolk. Find more about Onderneming here.
Thanks to Suffolk’s varied landscape, a huge range of wild animals call the county ‘home’, including rare birds, mysterious marine animals and even snakes!
However, you don’t have to go aimlessly traipsing around in the depths of Suffolk to spot these creatures – there are dedicated nature reserves all around the county, managed by specialist charities who maintain natural habitats so that our wildlife can thrive.
If you’re staying in Suffolk to spot a skylark or an adder (we weren’t joking about the snakes!), there’s no better location to rest your head than our historic, dog-friendly holiday barges. These ‘cottages on water’ can be found in stunning river settings in the quintessential village of Snape Maltings and bustling Woodbridge. Both of these locations are close by to nature reserves, and you can even spot a range of birds and other wildlife from the windows of the barges! Take a look at each barge here.
Here’s a selection of some of our favourite nature reserves and wildlife experiences in Suffolk:
A coastal nature reserve that’s perfect for family days out, Minsmere is managed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. This means that you’re likely to spot a huge array of birds, from avocets to bitterns.
Now, if you really want to see an adder, Dunwich Heath is the perfect spot. These non-aggressive snakes feast on small birds and lizards, so there’s plenty for them to choose from at this beachside paradise. Plus, it’s dog-friendly.
A 2,534 hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest, Alde-Ore Estuary stretches along the Suffolk coast between Aldeburgh and Bawdsey. We recommend going on a walk along the Iken Cliffs footpath for uninhibited views of the Alde Mudflats and its undisturbed wildlife reserve, or taking a trip down the river with Iken Canoe. Keep an eye out for otters!
The habitats here range from vegetated shingle to brackish lagoons, and reed marshes to mud flats – a haven for coastal wildlife. You’re just as likely to see hares darting across the landscape as you are oystercatchers and migratory waders feeding on shrimp from the lagoons.
Suffolk Owl Sanctuary is a registered charity which cares for injured owls and other birds of prey at its facility in Stonham Aspal (which happens to be right near our luxury, dog-friendly cottages (on dry land) at Woodfarm Barns). There are flying demonstrations throughout summer, and you can also visit the Meerkat Kastle to feed the meerkats!
For a classic, family-friendly farm experience, Easton Farm Park is a must-do. See and feed lambs, baby goats, piglets and more, and say hello to the county’s famous Suffolk Punch horses. Here, you’ll also find a cafe, large play area, shop and lots of other wildlife experiences for children of all ages.
The recently introduced wildlife park at local-food-hotspot Jimmy’s Farm features a wide range of animals for children to learn about and engage with, including reptiles, farmyard animals and more exotic mammals such as coatis, capybaras and tapirs.
Based in the village of Monks Eliegh, Lavenham Falconry offers avian experiences like no other. From a one hour session with super intelligent and mischievous ravens, to a full day with mighty hawks, owls and falcons, there is plenty on offer for those who want up-close encounters with birds.
We would love to welcome you to our Onderming and Twee Gebroeders barges, where you can find plenty more information on Suffolk’s wildlife, as well as the best places to eat, shop and walk your dog(s) during your stay with us. We count ourselves extremely lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country, and we can’t wait to share the magic with you!
If you’ve heard about Suffolk’s rich and varied food and drink offerings, you’ve probably heard of Adnams Southwold (very often shortened to ‘Adnams’), one of the county’s much-loved, historic breweries.
Adnams is proud of the fact that beer has been produced on the same site of its Southwold brewery for over 670 years. The brewery’s history began in 1345, when Johanna de Corby and 17 others were charged in court for serving illegal measures; however, it wasn’t associated with Adnams until 1872, when brothers George and Ernest Adnams purchased it.
Since then, the brand has been making iconic beers, popular spirits and delicious wines for distribution all over Suffolk and the world, with Adnams products reaching as far as South Korea, Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
For this blog post, however, we wanted to bring it back home to where it all started: the Southwold brewery. Here, you can take a tour of both the brewery and the recently introduced (in comparison to the age of the brewery) distillery. However, the brewery tour is a really immersive way to find out about the company’s vast, colourful history – so we do recommend it if that’s what you’re into!
On the tour, you’ll be able to see a huge collection of Adnams memorabilia, including photos, vintage beer mats, discontinued bottles and more. Your tour guide will take you through the raw ingredients that go into making Adnams beer, before walking you around the brewhouse itself and filling you in on how Adnams is really made. As you’d expect, there’s lots of neat, shiny brewing machinery and equipment to gawk at!
Like many modern companies, Adnams has refined their processes in order to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes recycling water and heat – two major benefits of the massive 2006 refit of the brewery. You’ll find out all about these processes before you head to the last part of the tour – the tasting session! Your tour guide will offer you samples from Adnams’ diverse beer portfolio, including the more unusual flavours, such as Earl Grey Lager.
The tour lasts between 1h30 and 1h45, depending on how long you want to spend tasting beers at the end of the tour
Tours cost £20
Pre-booking online is recommended, especially around busy periods like Christmas and summer
The tour is over 18s only
There is some stair-climbing, which may not be ideal for those who are less mobile
We recommend booking on a weekday, as this is when the brewery is functional
Southwold is a 45-minute drive from Twee Gebroeders at Woodbridge’s Tidemill Yacht Harbour, and 33 minutes from Onderneming at Snape Maltings. Not only can you enjoy the experience of the brewery tour, but you’ll also be able to explore Southwold, one of Suffolk’s most renowned beach towns.
What’s more British than heading to the pub for a spot of lunch on your staycation?
At Woodfarm Barges, we’re in two prime locations for some of the best pubs in Suffolk: Onderneming is moored on the River Alde at Snape Maltings and Twee Gebroeders is at the Tidemill in Woodbridge. Both of these locations feature an array of delicious local cuisine and cosy pub atmospheres within easy reach.
The Anchor is a great pub, with a buzzing atmosphere. Just a five minute walk from ‘Twee Gebroeders’. It’s a vibrant place with a varied menu. Clearly an old sailor’s pub as it’s a stone’s throw from the river.
Local chef Vernon Blackmore and his hard-working team have been at the Anchor for over a decade. They want you to enjoy the history of The Anchor’s interior so they have been very careful not to remove the pub’s old charm and character. The antique floor tiles may have been professionally cleaned but they are still wonky and remind you of all those sailors and their spilt beer from centuries past.
They have a bar and restaurant, and are open and serving food every day.
Winner of ‘Outstanding Customer Service’ at the Suffolk and Drink Awards, The Turk’s Head is one country pub where you’ll be well looked after – as well as your dog!
With many local ales, gins and wines to choose from, you’ll be able to get a real taste of Suffolk’s brewery and vineyard offerings. You’ll also be able to take advantage of a wonderful menu full of seasonal dishes and fine local ingredients.
Stop by for the increasingly popular ‘Indulgent Brunch’ between 10am and 2pm on a Saturday for a relaxing late-morning filler. It’s the perfect way to kickstart the day before a walk with the pooch!
Each visit to The Table in Woodbridge presents a unique dining experience. The ever changing menu showcases the talents of the brasserie’s chefs in the form of stunning world cuisine. One visit might proffer a perfectly light souffle, while the next might introduce you to an aromatic chicken curry.
The Table works closely with local suppliers to ensure the freshest ingredients for these beautifully cooked dishes. Even though you might be eating a fantastic Moroccan spiced lamb, it’s likely that the ingredients will have been sourced from a farm just down the road!
It’s central Woodbridge location makes it easy to access – especially from our Onderneming barge, which is just a five-minute walk away.
Owned by twin brothers Alex and Oliver Burnside, The Plough & Sail is a delightful pub with a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere and first-class customer service.
Located in the heart of the small village of Snape, just a two minute walk away from the gangplank of Onderneming, this friendly pub is ideal for any time of day, whether you’re in the mood for a light meal or something a little more formal. The menu consists of a brilliant range of upmarket pub favourites, with plenty available for those with special dietary requirements.
Dogs are welcome in the old part of the pub, which includes a cosy snug and intimate balcony area. The courtyard at the back of the pub is also very enjoyable on a summer evening!
To truly get away from the hustle and bustle, visit The Duck in the beautiful village of Campsea Ashe. A stylish pub with duck ornaments abound, you’ll find yourself lingering in the inviting atmosphere long after you’ve finished eating.
The well-stocked bar features the best of Suffolk’s breweries, alongside popular spirits and wines. Continuing the ‘local’ theme, The Duck sources local and seasonal produce for preparation onsite, with plenty of options for those who are gluten intolerant, vegan and more.
This is a great place to visit if you want to try the county’s famous Gressingham Duck. The pub has a great relationship with the supplier and produces a number of dishes centering around this delicious ingredient.
Settle into this 15th century pub in the heart of Woodbridge, little more than a 10-minute walk from our Twee Gebroeders barge.
Dog owners will love The Kings Head; dogs are welcome in the pub, and even have their own ‘Mutt’s Menu’, which features snacks such as pig ears and knotted bones to enjoy while you grab a pint or choose a delectable, locally sourced dish from the main menu. Owners Mike and Lucy Ball have two labradors themselves, so they know a thing or two about catering for dogs!
This is the perfect place to stop for some grub after a scenic walk along the river – especially when the fire’s roaring in winter!
There are also plenty of fantastic pubs near our luxury, dog-friendly holiday cottages at Woodfarm Barns. To find out about these, read our blog post here.
If your golf game is feeling up to par (sorry, I had to) then Suffolk is the perfect place to bring your clubs for a golfing holiday.
Take a few hours by yourself, with your partner or with friends and sample the best that our county has to offer, from beginner-friendly pitch and putts, to advanced links courses.
If you’re planning on coming to Suffolk for a golfing holiday, why not stay with us at Woodfarm Barges? Our unique, historic Dutch barges make for a fantastic stay, and we’re just a short drive away from a wide range of Suffolk golf courses. Our barges are dog-friendly, and so are some of these courses; however, we always advise ringing ahead to make sure that you are allowed to bring your pup, as policies may change over time.
If barges aren’t your thing, we also have seven luxury cottages on dry land at Woodfarm Barns, nearby. These are also dog (and golfer!) friendly.
Without further ado, here are our recommendations for golfing in Suffolk.
The Championship Course, Aldeburgh
This is one of the oldest courses in the county. You’re in great company here; the Championship Course has been graced by many golfing greats, including Willie Fernie, Willie Park Jnr. and J.H. Taylor. This is a 6,603 yard heathland course that lies within a mile of the coastline. It features no par fives on the men’s card, proving quite the challenge, even for the most accomplished golfer. Many golfers bring well-behaved dogs to walk the course with them.
The proudly dog-friendly Thorpeness Golf Club would never want your furry friend to miss out on a long walk around their par 70! The James Braid Course is laid out on predominantly sandy soil, and is earmarked by the architectural attraction, the House in the Clouds. A traditional maritime heathland course, it was voted the ‘greenest golf club in Britain’ in 2018 thanks to its seamless blending with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in which it lies.
Named after the grand Martello towers that stand like sentinels along the shore, the Martello Course at Felixstowe is one that many become attached to for its beautiful views and unique character. Suffolk’s only links course, the 18-hole at Felixstowe is available for year-round play thanks to the area’s low precipitation and mild climate. The opening tee shot features one of the best views around – in almost any weather you can view the entirety of Felixstowe Ferry, the mouth of the River Deben and the historic Bawdsey Manor on the other side of the peninsula. Plus, it’s dog-friendly!
Most people who visit Ipswich don’t realise that there’s a peaceful, stylish golf course just a few miles outside the county town. Another James Braid design, the Purdis Heath course was created with the experienced golfer in mind, as you’ll find your game exposed to the elements throughout play. Visit in different seasons and you’ll discover that the course transforms in tandem; autumn has to be our favourite, with the stunning range of golds, reds and burnt oranges appearing on the trees.
Par Three Course at Finn Valley Golf Club, Witnesham
If you’re a beginner and you want to try your hand at golf on an informal, relaxed course, the Par Three at Finn Valley is just right for you. With club hire available and no dress code, you don’t even have to be prepared to take a whack at golf here. Don’t let the informality put you off, however; the Par Three is very well maintained and beautifully presented.
For an entertaining day out with the family, the UK’s first golf park at Stonham Barns features eight golfing activities that are sure to cause endless smiles and many memories. From the Smugglers Bay Adventure Golf complete with treasure-filled cave and a shipwreck, to a super fun footgolf course, there are hours of enjoyment to be had at this golf park. For those who are a little more serious about learning to play, there are also luxury bays with course simulators, as well as excellent coaching services.
This is just around the corner from our luxury cottages at Woodfarm Barns!
We hope you enjoy your golfing holiday in Suffolk, whichever course you decide to play. Don’t forget to browse our unique, dog-friendly barges on the Suffolk riverways, or our luxurious, dog-friendly cottages at Woodfarm Barns.
Sure, there are those who like their homes to consist of shiny new furniture and decor, but there are also many of us who prefer to deck out our homes with antiques and homeware from independent shops. If you’re part of the latter, Suffolk is perfect for you.
There are dozens of exciting independent stores in Suffolk stocking everything from the weird to the wonderful – and plenty near our luxury, dog-friendly barges and barns, too!
Whether you fancy a new Persian rug or a centuries-old fireplace, there is plenty to peruse while you’re here. In fact, we’ve put together a blog post on our Woodfarm Barns site listing our top five favourites in our local area. Why not stop by and give it a read? Click here!
For scenic views of the river and countryside and a delicious pub meal, head to the small-but-charming village of Newbourne with your dog and venture on this easy circular walking trail around the nearby parishes.
Newbourne is just a 15-minute drive from our Twee Gebroeders barge at The Tidemill in Woodbridge, and 30 minutes from our Onderneming barge at Snape Maltings.
Here, you’ll find a dog walking trail which takes you through the villages and parishes of this area, encompassing expansive countryside and riverside views. The walk takes you past two dog-friendly pubs which present the opportunity to rest your tired feet and indulge in excellent Suffolk pub fare.
You’ll also stumble across a range of architecture and historic buildings, including a house which was once occupied by two famous giants!
We cover this must-do Newbourne dog walking trail step by step on our Woodfarm Barns blog. Click here to read the post.
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Short and Long Break options…..
We offer 2 or 3 night weekends from Fridays, 4 night midweek breaks from Mondays, and 5 night midweek breaks from Sundays. We also do full weeks and longer, from any of those days. Contact us if you would like anything different
We welcome up to 3 dogs and charge £15 each per stay
We make this small charge to cover our strict maintenance and cleaning regime and keep the barns spotless! This will be added during the booking process.
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