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Suffolk Tours - Beautiful Borderlands

Love gardens? Then let this tour put you in a gentle Suffolk spin. Pedal along rural lanes bright with wildflowers, past great greens dotted with campion pinks and little thatched cottages with towering hollyhocks to the famous gardens of Bressingham on the Norfolk border. Take a trip to ‘Foggy Bottom’ or ride on a steam train to see the Bloom family’s glorious gardens from a different angle. American airmen took to the wartime skies nearby and just a pedal push further, the River Dove follows a peaceful path through historic Hoxne and past the fine flint church and motte and bailey castle at Eye. You’ll find floral delights all along the way and cider orchards too near half-timbered Debenham, before you head back across Ronald Blythe’s idyllic ‘Akenfield’ country.    

Tour details

Tour Name
Beautiful Borderlands
Tour Reference
Tour Duration
3 days and 2 nights
Start Day
Any Day
Tour Grade
Board Basis
Bed & Breakfast
From £256 to £269 per person

is located in Bildeston and  in Rickinghall near Diss. Selected properties include either a 3 star hotel and a 4 star historic inn. We are pleased to discuss details on request.

Tour at a Glance

Great for cycling garden lovers, but this tour along quiet lanes has plenty of interest for all, from steam trains to control towers and castles, historic market towns and Suffolk’s iconic churches. Big blue skies, generally level terrain and exceptionally quiet lanes typify the border country of Suffolk and Norfolk. The River Waveney marks much of the border, hugging the edge of Bressingham - home to the Blooms’ beautiful garden legacies. From Needham Market’s River Gipping, pedal up to the Waveney Valley where there are steam trains to ride on around Bressingham’s famous gardens. Don’t miss the gallopers, steam museum and Dad’s Army exhibition. The return via Eye and Debenham covers countryside dotted with aviation heritage sites, medieval market towns and Suffolk’s rural valley slopes immortalised as ‘Akenfield’. Not enough time for an overnight in Suffolk before your tour? Tour 2C will guide you directly up to Rickinghall with just less time to stop and smell the flowers on the way!       


Day One - Arrive & explore
Arrive at Needham Market, explore the area and spend your first night in or near this small market town. Optional circular cycle routes are available on this day, if you'd like to get straight in the saddle and enjoy the ride.  

Day Two – Great village greens & glorious gardens 
Cycle along little Suffolk lanes through charming rural villages to Thornham Magna, once home to Tudor ‘Major House’, later to become Regency ‘Thornham Hall’. Parts of the estate still remain, with walks through the arboretum and nuttery to the original walled garden. Don’t miss Thornham Parva’s thatched pre-Conquest church nearby, renowned for its rare early wallpaintings and magnificent ‘lost’ altar piece or Mendlesham’s mysterious stone on the village green. Mary Tudor lived in this area when married to Charles Brandon, after her brief time as Queen of France.

Onwards though, across England's largest village green (stretching 2 miles) at Mellis, around Wortham’s heathy ‘ling’, and over the Norfolk border to Bressingham, famous for its landscaped gardens and superb display of herbaceous plants and heathers. Stroll through the gardens or see them from the narrow gauge steam railways, part of the fascinating steam museum which also boasts vintage vehicles and sets from the popular TV series Dad’s Army.

Your overnight is in a comfortable historic inn at Rickinghall near Diss, a village split in two (Rickinghall Superior / Inferior – ie. upper and lower!) and joined at the hip with the ancient trading town of Botesdale.
Mileage: Rec 34 Min 20 Max 35

Day Three – Flying through history from the haunt of kings to castles 
Meet up with the flightpath of the River Dove today as it glides along through historic Hoxne where King Edmund was murdered after hiding under Goldbrook Bridge. The sleepy village was once a major place of pilgrimage.

Next up, Eye – host to a wartime airfield site and poignant American Airforce memorial - has a 12th century motte and bailey castle with superb views of the adjacent flint church which has to be one of Suffolk’s finest. The orchards of Aspall Cider lie on the outskirts of the half-timbered and delightfully floral wool town of Debenham before you leave the River Deben and head across rural landscapes immortalised by Ronald Blythe in his fictional picture of a Suffolk village, ‘Akenfield’.

Finally, on your way back to Needham Market and the River Gipping, pedal through the unassuming historic village of Coddenham, once a fine medieval manor and home to one of East Anglia’s most significant Roman settlements.
Mileage: Rec 22 Min 22 Max 32

Please note that some attractions / places described on our recommended routings may be seasonal, or only open on certain days of the week. To avoid disappointment, please always check with us to ensure that they are open on the day of your planned visit.

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