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Suffolk Tours - Gardens, Castles & Constable

The beautiful gardens at Bressingham, home of the famous Bloom family up on the Suffolk / Norfolk borders makes for a great introduction to the many colours of Suffolk. Saxtead Green’s white windmill announces that you are near your first castle, Framlingham, then it’s off through the seasonal browns, greens and golds of rural landscapes to the sea blues of the coast, with splashes of purple heather or bright yellow gorse . The golden treasures of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial await at Sutton Hoo near Woodbridge and Constable’s Stour Valley is as green and pleasant as England comes. Finally the pretty pink thatched cottages of the wool towns make for an idyllic background to some real English country gardens.

Tour details

Tour Name
Gardens, Castles & Constable
Tour Reference
Tour Duration
8 days and 7 nights
Start Day
Any Day
Tour Grade
Board Basis
Bed & Breakfast
From £736 to £825 per person

is located in Ipswich, near Diss, in Framlingham, near Woodbridge and in Bildeston. Selected properties include a 4 star historic inn, a 2 star hotel, a 3 star hotel and two 4 star hotels, one with leisure facilities. We are pleased to discuss details on request.

Tour at a Glance

The beautiful Bressingham Gardens in border country between Suffolk and Norfolk, make a great start to this tour. Then its onwards to the old castles at Framlingham, and Orford and a chance to explore the Suffolk coast before heading to Constable country and the medieval Wool Towns to finish.


The two double overnight stops at Woodbridge and Bildeston allow you the option to rest & explore locally, or be as energetic as you wish, and go further afield.

Day One - Arrive & explore
Arrive at Ipswich where your hotel for the night is convenient for arriving at the station as well as for exploring the town centre. Head out for a walk along Neptune Quay and the historic waterfront, or Christchurch Park with its Jacobean Mansion museum is only a short stroll away.

Day Two – Great village greens & glorious gardens 
Start the day with a short train ride to Needham Market (you can leave your luggage for collection), or drive to Needham Market if you have your vehicle with you. Here, you'll pick up your bikes and cycle out along pretty Suffolk lanes to the village of Thornham Magna, where you can see the recently restored walled garden before visiting the adorable thatched, pre-Conquest church at nearby Thornham Parva wiht its amazing early medieval wall paintings and treasure of an reredos. On across England's largest village green (stretching over 2 miles) at Mellis, then over the Norfolk border to Bressingham, famous for its landscaped gardens and superb displays of herbaceous plants and heathers. You can stroll through the gardens or see them from the narrow gauge steam railways, part of the fascinating railway and steam museum. Your accommodation for the night is at an undiscovered historic town of two halves near Diss.

Mileage: Rec 31 Min 26 Max 38

Day Three – Flying through history from control towers to castles
First stop is the wonderfully atmospheric museum housed in the former control tower of a WWII American airbase. Step further back in time in the wonderfully historic village of Wingfield, home to a magnificent medieval great hall in the Old College by the church. Find out more about the powerful families who lived here and see their tombs inside the church, including a prominent Plantagenet - or pop across for a drink at the pub across the lane. Then on to the beautifully restored post mill at Saxtead Green, before arriving at your night's stop in the market town of Framlingham. Explore the 12th century castle by foot or take a short bike ride to Shawsgate Vineyard.

Mileage: Rec 31 Min 25 Max 33

Day Four – Creeks & concert halls; shingle streets & ship burials
Visit vineyards where you can taste Suffolk wine and cycle on to Snape Maltings where the Aldeburgh Festival concert hall sits among the little arts community on the banks of the river Alde. Those with plenty of energy left can continue on the recommended route to both Orford, with its impressive castle keep, quaint quayside and boat trips, and Shingle Street, a quiet spot where the River Ore meets the sea. Mere mortals can amend their route to exclude one or other, bringing the mileages down to 28 and 30 miles respectively. Just outside the lovely maritime town of Woodbridge where you stop for the night, you can visit the site of the rich Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo.

Mileage: Rec 39 Min 13 Max 46

Day Five – Seascapes, riverscapes, nostalgia & Napoleon
Either a rest day in Woodbridge or an opportunity to see some of the beautiful and unspoilt coastline. You can complete a circuit of the Deben estuary visiting the traditional seaside resort of Felixstowe before taking a small ferry across the river mouth. Alternatively, you can drop in on the arts community at Snape Maltings and see Orford Castle and the Ness, Shingle Street and the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo. Boat trips can also be taken on the Alde, from Snape and Orford, or on the Deben, from Waldringfield.

Mileage: Rec 11,25,30,31,35,38 or 42 Min 0 Max 48

Day Six – Weaving towards the wool towns
Winding through Suffolk lanes you'll pass through the villages of Little Bealings, Tuddenham, Claydon to name a few - each with its own character, church and village inn. You’ll cycle through beautiful Chelsworth with its narrow bridge and weavers’ cottages, before your overnight stop in Bildeston. Here, in this once important ‘Wool Town’, you can explore the streets lined with overhanging, timber framed houses.

Mileage: Rec 30 Min 25 Max 37

Day Seven – Constable’s inspiration & time on the water
Cycle the lanes to the prosperous ‘Wool Town’ of Hadleigh with its fine old High Street and pretty riverside walk and on down the Brett valley to the lovely village of East Bergholt, birthplace of the artist John Constable. Ride down the hill to Flatford Mill on the River Stour and take a walking tour of some of the many scenes little changed from when they were captured by Constable 200 years ago. After a cream tea and perhaps a little fun on the river in a rowing boat, return via Stoke-by-Nayland with its own connections to Constable, and beautiful Kersey where you splash through the ford, to Bildeston for your second overnight stay.

Mileage: Rec 36 Min 0 Max 36

Day Eight – Medieval masterpieces & rural return
The ride today takes you through some more of the prettiest villages in England. If you wish, there is the option to visit Long Melford with its mile long high street full of antique shops, or you may simply take more time to explore the unique collection of medieval buildings in Lavenham, the most spectacular of the wool towns, before your return to Needham Market and departure.

Mileage: Rec 23 Min 11 Max 33

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