Grand Tour of Suffolk
It’s the big one! Welcome to the definitive bike tour of Suffolk. Head up past impressive castles and ancient villages to the Waveney Valley before reaching Covehithe’s crumbling cliffs and cycling the entire length of the beautiful Heritage Coast. We’ve included extra time to relax and explore in and around the elegant Southwold and history-rich Woodbridge on the Deben. Rural routes lead westwards to get a quick taster of the medieval wool towns, before swooping down on Constable Country . Then it’s time to wind through half-timbered Lavenham to more Georgian Long Melford, Gainsborough’s Sudbury, medieval Castle Hedingham and captivating Clare. Bury St Edmunds boasts a ‘new’ cathedral plus the famed Abbey Gardens, preparing you for more floral treats at Bressingham and at Helmingham Hall on your route homeward. Read More
Bed & Breakfast
14 Days, 13 Nights
Feb - Nov
Grade 3 (Moderate)
The definitive and complete bike tour of Suffolk. Ride the full length of the Heritage Coast, stay in the elegant resorts of Southwold & Aldeburgh, appreciate the rolling hills of Constable Country, explore the medieval Wool Towns and villages and appreciate the gardens and big blue skies of the Suffolk and Norfolk borders.
Day 1 Arrive & explore
Arrive at Needham Market, explore the area and spend your first night in or near this small market town.
Day 2 Winding lanes & windmills
Head through the lanes to Debenham, a pretty village with its over-hanging houses and antique shops, then on to Saxtead Green. Here you can visit the beautifully restored 18c post mill and, perhaps, take refreshment at the inn nearby. A detour to one of the vineyards in the area is well worth the visit.
You spend the night in the quiet market town of Framlingham where the 12th century castle, the one-time home of Mary Tudor, and church are both superb.
Mileage: Rec 22; Min 21; Max 38 miles
Day 3 Great castles and historic market towns
Follow quiet lanes through the villages of Laxfield and the South Elmhams to the small market town of Bungay, situated on a loop of the beautiful River Waveney, where attractions include the ruins of Bigod’s Castle, the ancient Buttercross, the 19c. Fisher Theatre and St Mary’s Church, site of the legend of ‘The Black Dog of Bungay’, before heading south to the market town of Halesworth for the night.
Mileage: Rec 35; Min 19; Max 42 miles
Day 4 From crumbling cliffs to refined resorts
Head south-east, striking the coast as the road ends abruptly at the crumbling cliffs of Covehithe. Here you can almost touch the atmosphere at the melancholic ruins of the enormous medieval church before turning south towards the gleaming lighthouse and red pantiled roofs of Southwold.
Mileage: Rec 21; Min 13; Max 21 miles
Day 5 Beach huts, benches and biking along the Blyth
A relaxing day in Southwold, a delightful cliff top town of narrow streets and spacious greens surrounded by cottages in flint, brick and colour wash. You may wish to stretch your legs and cycle inland, following the River Blyth, to see the magnificent church at Blythburgh.
Day 6 Heathlands, Marsh Harriers, lost churches & lifeboats
Cross the River Blyth to Walberswick by footbridge before heading south across heather clad heath land to see what remains of the medieval port of Dunwich. Continue through the RSPB reserve at Minsmere and on to the elegant seaside town of Aldeburgh, where fishermen haul their boats onto the beach just across the road from your hotel.
Mileage: Rec 21; Min 21; Max 28 miles
Day 7 Creeks, castles, waves and warrior kings
Going inland to find river crossings, you visit the arts centre at Snape, climb to the top of dramatic Orford Castle, possibly taking a boat trip from Orford Quay.
Onward then to the tip of Orford Ness at quiet and beautiful Shingle Street, followed by a visit to the site of the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo before finally arriving in Woodbridge for the night.
If you were to miss out either Shingle Street or Orford, then the distances would fall to 28 or 26 miles respectively.
Mileage: Rec 37; Min 16; Max 43 miles
Day 8 Time by the water or nostalgia & Napoleon
You may choose to have a complete rest and spend the day exploring the lovely town of Woodbridge or do just a little cycling and take in a boat trip on the Deben from Waldringfield. Alternatively, you may prefer a full days ride around the Deben estuary, visiting the traditional seaside resort of Felixstowe, crossing the estuary mouth by small ferry and visiting Shingle Street and Sutton Hoo if you didn’t get time on Day Seven.
Mileage: Rec 11 – 30; Min 0; Max 35 miles
Day 9 Weaving towards the wool towns
Take time to explore Woodbridge and visit the Tide Mill before climbing back onto your bikes and pedalling along quiet Suffolk lanes, passing through the pretty villages of Bealings, Tuddenham and Kersey.
You spend the night in either Hadleigh or Bildeston, attractive market towns with fine old buildings and quiet riverside walks.
Mileage: Rec 24; Min 24; Max 34 miles
Day 10 From Constable’s inspiration to medieval masterpieces
Heading into the heart of ‘Constable Country’, you’ll explore East Bergholt his birthplace, Flatford Mill where a guided walking tour visits seven sites painted by Constable including the ‘Haywain’.
Continue on to Stoke by Nayland, whose church tower is featured in many of Constable’s paintings, and finally to the famous ‘Wool Town’ of Lavenham for the night.
Mileage: Rec 30; Min 12; Max 35 miles
Day 11 Antiques and fine art treasures
First stop after Lavenham is Long Melford, with its mile long high street crammed with antique shops and two Tudor mansions, Melford Hall and Kentwell Hall.
A detour takes you to the ancient market town of Sudbury, birthplace of artist Thomas Gainsborough, before arriving at Castle Hedingham with its well preserved Norman Keep.
Finally to Clare, another of the beautiful villages in the area, where you spend the night.
Mileage: Rec 27: Min 15: Max 30 miles.
Day 12 Bury nice indeed
Journey north to see Ickworth, an extraordinary oval house with flanking wings, owned by the National Trust. Cycle on to Bury St Edmunds, a thriving market town, full of history and old Suffolk charm. Walk through the massive stone gateway to the ruined abbey, set in beautiful gardens; visit the twice weekly market or take a drink at The Nutshell, the smallest pub in Britain.
Mileage: Rec 18; Min 17; Max 35 miles.
Day 13 Past flour mills to floral delights
Travelling from Bury St Edmunds you cycle northwards in an area of country renowned for its windmills, big blue skies and exceptionally quiet lanes. Visit Wyken Hall vineyard and the mills at Pakenham, Bardwell and Thelnetham before you come to the steam railways and beautiful gardens at Bressingham, just over the Norfolk border. After your visit, return across the border into Suffolk to spend the night in the historic village of Rickinghall at an historic coaching inn.
Mileage: Rec 35; Min 28; Max 38 miles
Day 14 A colourful route homeward
First stop is the wonderfully atmospheric museum housed in the former control tower of a WWII American airbase. Step further back in time when you discover the magnificent medieval great hall at Wingfield Old College, lingering, perhaps, for a drink at the excellent pub across the lane.
Then on to the pretty village of Debenham, where you can browse the antique shops before detouring to the moated mansion and beautiful gardens and parkland of Helmingham Hall. Relax with a cream tea before riding back through the pretty village of Coddenham.
Mileage: Rec 34; Min 24; Max 38 miles
Dates & PricesDownload Prices
For tour start days/dates, seasons and all prices, please click on the PRICES button above
Ensuite accommodation as described with full English breakfast (prices based on two adults sharing)
Hire of hybrid bicycle and ancillary equipment (single pannier and handlebar bag or map holder, pump, basic tools, spare inner tube & puncture repair equipment, helmet if required)
Luggage transfer between hotels
Local assistance on call (we will attend for puncture repair in Suffolk)
Detailed itinerary with meticulously planned and researched routes following quiet country lanes with a choice of routes available each day (usually recommended, long and short)
Route notes, descriptions and use of good OS mapping (maps available on arrival). We pride ourselves on our detailed level of documentation which includes plenty of top tips for places to visit or for relaxing and sampling the local fare along the way. We send electronic versions of these documents by email approximately two weeks before your stay so you can plan ahead and look forward to your gentle cycling adventure
We have now switched the default navigation system to GPS – in our opinion this is now the most convenient method as it eliminates the need for frequent stops to check the map
- We provide you with access to a premium GPS smartphone navigation app (IOS or Android) and send you links so that you can download all of the route options before you leave home. We will provide a handlebar bracket for your phone if required; it is also recommended that you bring a spare battery/powerbank to make sure that your phone lasts the day
- We can also provide GPS tracks in whatever format if you prefer to load them into your own GPS Unit
- Finally, we can provide a limited number of GPS units with the routes preloaded – this is on a first come first served basis – please let us know as soon as you can if you would like to use one
- We will also provide OS 1:50,000 mapping on arrival as additional support to allow for any impromptu route changes
- Traditional map-based navigation (using marked OS maps) is still available as an alternative at extra cost upon request (at least two weeks in advance)
Please note that the price EXCLUDES
Costs of getting to and from the start point
Selected 4 star hotels in Ipswich, Lavenham (2 nights) and Bury St Edmunds; 3 star hotels in Framlingham, Southwold (2 nights), Aldeburgh, Woodbridge (2 nights) and Bildeston; historic 4 star inns in Rickinghall and Halesworth.
The tour is priced by start day to include any weekend supplements.
We are pleased to discuss details on request
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