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Suffolk the Dog Loving County

Special thanks to Keith Parker of Old Rectory Cottages, Flixton for supplying this information.

A tourism campaign in 2013 was entitled “Suffolk the Curious County – it could just as well have been called “Suffolk the Dog Loving County”, because Suffolk probably makes dogs & their owners more welcome than anywhere in England.

Keith's dogs - Sam & Leon

Keith’s dogs, Sam & Leon, love living in dog friendly Suffolk

So what’s the attraction of Suffolk?  Firstly it is blessed with a coastline of shingle shores & sandy beaches most of which you can take your dog on all year round.  Team this with Suffolk’s low lying, gentle landscape and beautiful rural countryside which allows ample opportunity for visitors to explore.

And the climate?  Whilst good weather is not guaranteed, the statistics are in our favour – Suffolk boasts one of the best climates in the country and the lowest rainfall in the UK – as little as one fifth of the South West and half that of the South Coast.  In fact a spokeswoman for Anglian Water described Suffolk “as dry as Jerusalem with about the same rainfall”!

Bordered at one end by Norfolk and the other end by Essex, in many ways it can be described as the “out of the way county” and to my mind that’s what gives Suffolk its charm – the opportunity to escape the frantic pace of everyday life.  Over the years it has inspired many – John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough and Alfred Munnings painted here, whilst Benjamin Britten composed here, and George Orwell even took the name of one of its rivers.  And it continues to inspire with its wide open landscapes and unforgettable sunsets.  Although I am somewhat biased (I live there!), my favourite area of Suffolk is the Waveney Valley – the river that separates Suffolk from Norfolk – offering an unspoilt haven for wildlife, delightful villages and unique market towns.

Bungay Castle

Dogs are welcome at Bungay Castle

The picturesque market towns of Bungay, Beccles, Halesworth and Harleston (just over the border into Norfolk) are only around 12 miles apart – all provide the opportunity to shop in family owned shops rather than the national chains found in most towns now.  And perhaps most importantly, all four have at least one pet shop, where you can top up on treats for Man’s Best Friend!  Bungay also boasts Earsham Street Café a delightful dog friendly café / restaurant-housed in a medieval building – you can enjoy a freshly baked scone and a cup of coffee in the covered garden area, which once saw service as a cock fighting pit!  Unless they have had a run of four legged customers, the staff usually find dogs a treat – so as you can imagine it is a popular place with the dogs as well.

Many of the walks in the Waveney Valley showcase the fine architecture and untouched countryside of the area.  One of my favourite walks is from the outskirts of Bungay across the fields to St Peter’s Brewery (the Brewery is at St Peter’s Hall – a 16th Century moated house built with materials pilfered from a local nunnery by Cardinal Wolsey) and back to Bungay by a different route.  I usually do the walk in June as it goes past a large meadow which is awash with wildflowers including several species of orchids.  Although the walk is quite long at around 7 miles, you can fortify yourself with a glass of St Peter’s beer in the garden attached to the Hall and of course a bowl of water for the dog.

In fact thinking about it, most of the walks in the Waveney are circular and have a pub conveniently placed around the half way mark! Perhaps no co-incidence bearing in mind the many micro breweries the area boasts.

Talking of pubs, there are lots of dog friendly pubs in the area – among my favourites are The Artichoke at Broome, The Green Dragon in Bungay, The Plough at Wissett and The Buck Inn at Flixton which I can walk to.

To visit the sea, you have to venture outside of the Waveney Valley – but not too far.

Southwold known as the “Jewel of Suffolk” is a genteel place with a renovated Victorian pier, golden beach and colourful beach huts.  A trip to Lowestoft enables you to boast that you have visited the most easterly town in Britain – the eclectic mix of wide expansive award-winning beaches, rich maritime heritage and Broadland links makes it an attractive place to visit.

My favourite time?  After a busy day, sitting and watching the fantastic sunset knowing that I will be lucky enough to wake to enjoy “stupendous Suffolk” all over again tomorrow!

Sam on a mission!

Sam on a mission – not sure Keith will be joining him after a long day of walking

March 25, 2014 This post was written by Categories: Places to visit Tagged with:
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