Cycle Breaks
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Testimonials – Cycling Holidays & Weekend Breaks in England

Experiences Shared
In this era of twittering and blogging, many of our customers have written about their experiences of their cycling holidays and asked us if we would like to share them.   These include cycle tours of England and Europe and shorter breaks such as cycling weekends in the UK. Fancy reading on?

Steam Trains and Vineyards – Suffolk (Nell Card)


WHAT OUR CUSTOMERS SAY

 

Great cycle route, excellent accommodation, fab service. This was our second holiday with Cycle Breaks and we are sure it will not be our last!  
Mrs B, London

We had a very nice holiday, cycling through Suffolk. Cycle Break’s service is great. The hotels they chose were very good. The Suffolk countryside is lovely. The roads require just enough effort to be pleasantly tired and content at the end of the day.
Mr & Mrs B, Groningen, The Netherlands

Would recommend Cycle Breaks to anyone thinking of a cycling holiday as they think of everything you need to enjoy your experience. 
Miss S, Watford

We highly recommend this company. They were friendly, seemed to think of everything, all aspects well planned with excellent equipment and top class accommodation. Hard to think of how it could have been any better!
Mr & Mrs H, Leeds 

It was a first class holiday with which we were wholly satisfied.
Mr & Mrs R, Sheffield

Fine selection of quiet lanes through beautiful countryside, nice villages and historic towns.
Mr S & son, Udligenswil, Switzerland

It was wonderful. This was an excellent holiday – I will be recommending it to friends
Ms McC & party, British Columbia, Canada

A big thank you for a really relaxing, refreshing holiday – can’t fault it
Mr & Mrs R, Burgh Heath

Our second excellent cycling holiday with you this year.
Mr & Mrs L, Usk

The routes chosen that I have cycled so far have been excellent. I wish I had more time to cycle more holiday routes
Mr L, Hertfordshire

I‘ve had a brilliant few days & really enjoyed seeing Suffolk. Finally managed to read the map competently on last day so will come for longer next time.
Ms W, (solo lady cyclist), Kidderminster

Great fun for us novice cyclists!
Mr & Mrs W, Folkestone

Overall a fantastic holiday with well-planned routes with excellent options. The organisation was second to none and all your notes and planning made the holiday flow. 
Mr & Mrs M & family, Wokingham

Very enjoyable holiday
Ms B & Ms H, Hereford

A huge thank you to all in the Cycle Breaks team. The trip was an incredible experience, very well organised and thoroughly enjoyed by both of us. Hats off to all of you for your input, careful planning & organization
Mr & Mrs S, Perth, Australia

Very enjoyable weekend for first timers. Will definitely do again.
Mr H & party, London

I have since the holiday been looking at other accommodation, other companies and the various routes and maps provided by ???? & others, and concluded the information provided by you is better than all of them.
Mr R, Alconbury

Excellent service. As a woman on her own, everything was organised brilliantly. I was so pleased about the breakdown and rescue [service]. My husband always does maintenance on my bikes at home. I was very concerned if I got a puncture. Seeing Suffolk countryside was great. Thank you for everything.
Mrs H, (solo lady cyclist), Hatfield

Thank you Cycle Breaks for efficient service once again. We have all had a good time. We appreciate your friendliness
Mrs S (& party of lady cyclists)

Hope to see you next year
Mr & Mrs H, Bolton

Very impressed with the routes, recommendations and organisation. We have already recommended you to friends.
Mr & Mrs H, Worcester

Thank you for another great cycling holiday with Suffolk Cycle Breaks – you even made sure the weather stayed fine for us!
Mr & Mrs G, Leicester

Another excellent holiday – see you again!
Ms P, (solo lady cyclist), London

Really great to get some exercise, do something that both my son & I can enjoy, and have time to really relax and talk! Many thanks
Mrs T & son, Maidstone

Bikes were great, perfect for ‘non-cyclists’! Routes themselves were great through lots of flat cycling and beautiful scenery. Had a lovely time thanks
Ms G, London

Thank you so much for arranging a truly superb holiday for our family. Our group had an age range from 11 to 73 and all of us enjoyed every moment. We were most impressed by the care taken to provide the very best of routes, showing us the beauty of Suffolk countryside. The bikes were excellent, and the variety of accommodation made it interesting – not quite knowing what style it would be. We felt our chosen holiday was exactly right for the inexperienced amongst us, and also ‘oldies’ who appreciate shorter routes these days!
Mr & Mrs K and family, Bromley

First time on a cycling holiday – thanks for all your help. Routes well thought and planned, organisation is excellent
Ms O, (solo lady cyclist), London

The route from Framlingham to Southwold is delightful. Excellent holiday, fantastic mapping
Dr & Mr F, Wales

Just to thank you for a wonderful biking trip in June – we loved it all & have told everyone & given them all the information. Suffolk Cycle Breaks was great & the bikes were excellent.
Mrs W and party, Ontario, Canada

Information sent prior to the trip was good. Very efficient and helpful and everyone we’ve met have been wonderful.
Ms M and party, Newmarket

Thank you for arranging the short break for us and laying on such excellent weather. The welcome, food and room at The Crown in Woodbridge were excellent.
Mr & Mrs H and family, Nottingham

Lovely to find so many quiet little lanes, butterflies and nice places.
Dr & Mrs L, London

The trip was fantastic! Thank you for your help
Ms T & party, Menlo Park, California, USA

Relaxing, stress free introduction to cycling holidays
Ms S & party, Purley-on-Thames

Thoroughly enjoyed the experience – the weather surely helped also. Thank you for your assistance and patience.
Ms R & party, Virginia Waters, Surrey

 

STEAM TRAINS AND VINEYARDS

Nell Card talks about her experiences in July 2009, during her short Cycle Breaks holiday by bike around Suffolk.

She chose a tour stretching up to the Norfolk borders and across to historic Framlingham, only a short distance from the Suffolk heritage coast. Amongst the rural and historic scenery, she discovered Steam trains and vineyards.

Nell is also an editor for the Guardian and Observer guides.

“What to do with a precious few days off work in early July?  I started searching for somewhere in the UK that could offer a couple of car-less urban dwellers a refreshing change from our desk-bound daily grind. Minimum hassle was a must: no lengthy train journeys, no car hire and no endless research into boutique B&Bs on a budget. All we wanted were three gently adventurous days of as much country air as our lungs could hold, and a self-guided cycling tour of Suffolk with Cycle Breaks appeared to offer exactly that.

A mercifully flat county in East Anglia, Suffolk is perfect cycling holiday terrain. A network of smooth, butterfly-strewn country lanes link little-changed farming villages with eighteenth-century market towns. You can spend six hours a day cycling alongside fields of ripe wheat and barley without passing through a single set of traffic lights.

We agreed on Steam Trains and Vineyards (4C) – a three-night tour that takes in a steam-powered sight-seeing tour of the beautiful gardens at Bressingham, a smattering of historical sites and a visit to one of Suffolk’s thriving vineyards. The route averages around 30 miles a day (not too arduous, but enough to blow the cobwebs off, we reasoned). What’s more, we realised that Cycle Breaks would take complete care of all the fiddly logistics and practicalities: from bike hire to route planning to room reservations – it’s all included in one blissfully stress-free package.

Tuesday
London to Stowmarket
The journey from London’s Liverpool Street to Stowmarket was swift and simple. We arrive at Stowmarket at around 5pm in the drizzle and are given the option of collecting our bikes that evening, or heading straight for the comfortable care of Bays Farm – a five-star B&B just outside Stowmarket. We choose the latter.

Stephanie and her two giant schnauzers welcome us into their gorgeous farmhouse.  In our room, we find a bunch of fresh peonies in the fireplace and indulgent Penhaligon’s toiletries in the en-suite. We help ourselves to the tea, biscuits and fresh cherries in our room and later walk to the nearest pub, The Shepherd and Dog, for dinner.

The pub (one of many recommendations on our exhaustive itinerary), is a 20-minute stroll from the farm. Despite the summer shower, our first taste of Suffolk scenery doesn’t disappoint. We see a majestic barn owl swoop over the fields and a muscular hare tear off into the nearest hedgerow. The pub at Forward Green offers traditional bar snacks with a contemporary twist. I opt for leek and potato soup with fresh leek and potato fritters. My boyfriend Will, goes for the goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion bruschetta. We order two sparkling pints of local Aspalls cider and pore over the first of our colour-coded OS route maps, eager to know where our first day will take us.

Wednesday
Needham Market to Scole
Breakfast is a feast of home-grown strawberries, cereal and piping hot scrambled eggs and smoked salmon – more than enough to see us through to lunchtime. We’re collected in the Cycle Breaks van at 9am, and taken to Cycle Breaks HQ, a short drive away at Alder Carr Farm. We’re shown our bikes (two finely-tuned Claud Butlers) and issued with wet-weather gear, gel saddles, and panniers. I buy a small stash of nuts and organic flapjacks from the on-site farm shop to keep our energy levels up.

Will clips the OS map to the front of his handlebars (I’m in charge of the printed itinerary) and we set off down the first of many single-track county roads. To make the very best of your time on two-wheels, the route diligently avoids busy roads. Inevitably, this means you have to spend some time reading directions. Whilst a missed turn is by no means disastrous, you won’t see the secret, sleepy Suffolk you came for if you stray too far from the plotted route.

Thirteen miles and two hours in to our first foray, we decide to stop at the Four Horseshoes at Thornham Magna. It’s noon and the pub is already bustling. We allow ourselves half a bitter, but decide we haven’t quite earned lunch. On then, to Thornham Walks (a half-mile detour) for a wander around the parkland estate of Lord and Lady Henniker. After a stroll around the walled garden and a bite to eat in The Forge tearooms we get back in the saddle. 

We breeze past Mellis (1400 acres of common land, scattered with farm houses and cottages) and, at the 20 mile mark, stop for a quick exploration of Wortham Ling – an unusual area of heathland populated by dog walkers and grass snakes. Then, just beyond a copse of trees, we see a plume of blackened steam rising.

Guided by the steam, we inadvertently cycle along an A-road towards Bressingham Gardens and Steam Museum. The museum is three narrow gauge lines with five miles of track that whisk you through acres of lovingly-tended gardens and woodland. We buy our tickets (for the discounted, late-admission price of £5 each) and board the Garden Railway.  We rattle through the Dell Garden, which was planted by the perennial plantsman, Alan Bloom in 1953. The island beds are frothing with vibrant patches of yellows, pinks, reds and purples. Our second train ride on the Nursery Railway takes us past working nursery beds and sheds and through quiet woodland. A herd of cattle look up, unperturbed as we clatter past their field.

We have an ice-cream and watch some kids enjoy the Victorian gallopers roundabout and head off once more to find our hotel at Scole. The day is getting on, so we opt for the shorter, off-road route, avoiding an A-road and giving us the opportunity to take our shoes and socks off and ford a shallow stream in the beguiling grounds of Frenze Hall.

Our bed for the night is in The Scole Inn, around 30 miles from Alder Carr Farm and over the border in Norfolk. The inn is an impressive Jacobean building stuffed with original features, including a hand-carved staircase and gigantic fireplaces in every room.

Cycle Breaks arrange the safe collection and delivery of all your bags each day and ours are waiting for us in our opulent room in the main building, complete with four-poster bed. The modernisation of the hotel is somewhat clumsy and dated, but the staff are young and friendly and the bar pleasingly packed with guests and locals.

Our bottoms slightly bruised, we find a heavily cushioned bench, order a refreshing Aspalls and hearty plate of pub grub and see what the next day has in store.

Thursday
Scole to Framlingham
We set off a little after 10am and head for Eye, a small eighteenth-century market town eight miles from Scole. In Eye, we lock up our bikes and seek out the castle mound, which affords glorious panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. We nip into Beard’s Tea Room, a cafe and deli on Church Street stuffed with lunch-time treats, and opt for a fresh spoonful of peppery mackerel pate and two slices of Mediterranean vegetable tart and decide to take them with us to enjoy at a suitable picnic spot en route.

Between Eye and Thorndon, on shaded country paths, a miniature muntjac deer and unidentified black beastie (possibly a stoat) skip across our path. Our chains and peddles are so well-honed, we can sneak up on unsuspecting Suffolk wildlife without being heard. We tuck into our picnic on the edge of a wheat field as rain clouds gather above us.

Before long, we feel the first drops of rain and unfurl the bright yellow cycling capes we have stashed in our panniers. At Bedfield, 23 miles from Scole, we take shelter in The Crown – an ancient pink, thatched boozer full of farming paraphernalia and three locals debating the difference between rooks and crows. We dry off over a pint of local ale and wait for the rain to clear.

Sadly, it doesn’t. So, at around 4pm, we wheel into Framlingham and check in to The Crown Hotel, missing out on the Shawsgate Vineyard and Framlingham’s twelfth-century castle.  We get over the disappointment by treating ourselves to coffee and cake in the cosy bar of this sixteenth-century coaching inn, which doubles up as a tearoom during the day.

We stay in the buzzing bar, studying our maps, reading the papers and chatting to a local farmer who helps us identify the crops (sugar beet, peas, potatoes, leeks, parsley) we’d seen that day. We order some wine and a superb meal and decide to take the recommended detour to Sutton Hoo the following day.

Friday
Framlingham to Stowmarket

The road out of Framlingham speeds along towards Easton, where we cycle alongside the delicate brick curves of what was once the longest ribbon wall in the world. We pass through delightful villages (too early for a pub pit-stop) and on to Sutton Hoo, an Anglo-Saxon burial ground. The site belongs to the National Trust, who are pleased to see a couple of cyclists and offer us two-for-one entry (adults £6.50, children £3.40).

If you allow yourself to become immersed in the history, the landscape here – an unremarkable field of cordoned-off mounds – exudes an enticing, mythical allure. Here, in AD625 a warrior king was buried in a 90-ft burial ship. He lay there undisturbed for 1300 years until a local archaeologist was asked to examine the mounds in 1939. The astonishing treasures he uncovered – thought to be the most precious possessions of Raedwald, King of East Anglia – are now on display in the British Museum.  We stay for a screening of a short documentary about the dig, and a peek at the excellent exhibition before getting back on track to Woodbridge.

At Woodbridge, we cycle up the thoroughfare to Frangipane’s, a cute cafe just off the main high street. We sit outside and order smoked-salmon sandwiches and traditional lemonade. Conscious of time (we need to be back at Alder Carr Farm between 4-5pm), we get back on our bikes and then whisk out of town for one last afternoon of gentle country exercise.

The remaining hours are spent soaking up the sunshine on gloriously empty country roads. The route takes you over a couple of A-roads, but the noise of the traffic is soon replaced by the gentle whisper of golden corn fields and the beat of birds’ wings. Conscious of time, we forgo the last pub on the itinerary and head off-road for the very last leg of the journey.

Arriving at Alder Carr Farm, weather-beaten and satisfyingly soporific, we’re just in time for a last-minute supermarket-sweep of the farm shop. We stuff our bags with Elderflower wine, local blue cheese and farm-grown berries and beetroot before being driven back to Stowmarket station.

Aboard the 5.30pm to London, the speed of the train seems suddenly alarming. In just three days, we’d become accustomed and attached to a life lived at 5mph with nothing but the vast expanse of the glorious Suffolk countryside for company”.

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