- Walk in the landscapes that inspired Gainsborough and Constable
Landscapes that leap from the palettes of John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough, idyllic English villages, and medieval churches will fully repay the explorer walking by lazy streams, over gentle undulations, salt marshes, and shingle shores beneath Suffolk's open skies.
We visit Aldeburgh, home for many years of composer Benjamin Britten and of the eponymous international music festival. We walk in a national nature reserve and step back in time in villages of half-timbered homes and moated manor houses.
One of the highlights is a river trip from Orford with its 12th century castle built by King Henry II.
Sunday Overnight: The Brudenell
We stay in Aldeburgh, the home of the renowned Music Festival founded by Benjamin Britten who lived for many years in the town. At the top of the Town Steps, leading off the High Street and up the cliff, there is a wonderful view over the roof tops and out to sea. Our hotel overlooks the shingle beach, where fishermen still sell their daily catch from huts, and is a short walk from the River Alde, which inspired Britten’s opera Curlew River.
Monday Overnight: The Brudenell
We begin our walk at Dunwich, formerly East Anglia’s busiest town with nine churches and an important boat building industry and harbour, home to an impressive fleet of royal ships. It has now nearly all eroded into the sea and little remains apart from the eerie tolling of church bells from beneath the sea – or so local lore has it. We walk through a National Nature Reserve where we may be lucky enough to hear a Bittern booming or see a Marsh Harrier. Following lunch in the former artists’ colony of Walberswick, we follow the River Blyth through whispering reed beds to Blythburgh in whose impressive church Oliver Cromwell once kept his horses!
Tuesday Overnight: The Brudenell
We set off for the Maltings at Snape, where the Festival’s Concert Hall overlooks the salt marshes and mudflats of the Upper River Alde. We may see a Thames Barge venturing up the winding river at the top of the tide as they have done for generations; once used for transporting barley from the fields of East Suffolk to the breweries of London, they are now a rare, if stunning, sight. We cross ancient heath land where woodlarks and rare heath butterflies abide and reach Orford, one of the prettiest villages on the Suffolk Heritage Coast and a true historical gem; the river Ore still flows past the quay and is home to fishermen, boats and birds. We visit the unique polygonal tower keep of Orford Castle, built by Henry II in the 12th century to counterbalance the power of turbulent East Anglian barons and to guard the coast against foreign mercenaries.
Wednesday Overnight: The Swan
We leave the coast and walk to the village that inspired Ronald Blythe's novel "Akenfield" describing traditional farming life in this part of Suffolk. In the afternoon we visit Otley Hall, a privately owned 16th century moated Hall set in 10 acres of gardens. Bartholomew Gosnold (1571-1607), whose family lived at Otley for 300 years, voyaged to the New World where, in 1602, he discovered Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, which he named after his infant daughter. We continue to Lavenham, arguably the most beautiful village in England, to admire the stunning half-timbered, colour-washed houses and more than 300 buildings of the highest architectural interest. Our lodging, dating back to the 15th century, is one of England's most iconic hotels.
Thursday Overnight: The Felix
After breakfast, we set off for yet another fascinating village Long Melford, with a High Street two miles long! The church is recognised as the finest in Suffolk and has a treasury of English medieval art with outstanding stained glass. After lunch we walk along the Upper River Stour, known, loved and painted by both Gainsborough and Constable, to reach Clare, a gem of medieval architecture overlooked by its Norman castle. We continue our journey to Cambridge, that great city of learning.
Friday Overnight: The Felix
We stroll the lanes of this most romantic of cities and visit the world famous King’s College, whose magnificent architecture has inspired so many who have studied here over the last 800 years. After a gentle cruise on a river-punt on the winding River Cam, with a unique view of the colleges, we walk beside the river to Grantchester, one-time home to the First World War poet, Rupert Brooke, whose much-loved poem ‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’ ends with the immortal lines ‘Yet stands the Church clock at ten to three, and is there honey still for tea. We shall see!
We return to our hotel to prepare for our Farewell Dinner in one of the famous colleges.
After breakfast, depart at your leisure; it's a taxi ride to Cambridge Station.The Wayfarers winning formula remains my favorite vacation choice after 13 Walks over the past 26 years!
(Single Supplement $565.00)
Hotels - Where we stay
The Brudenell Hotel is really rather special. Situated at the southern end of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, close to the Yacht Club, it is a haven of peace and relaxation.
The hotel’s décor has calming colours, including cool sea-blues and sunshine-yellows, making it warm and welcoming. The bedrooms are all furnished to a very high standard and are decorated in a light, airy and relaxing style, with views of the sea or the River Alde and its surrounding marshland - some of the finest in Suffolk. All have private bathroom, hair-dryer, tea and coffee-making facilities, iron and w-fi access.
Nestling in the Suffolk countryside, between Bury St. Edmunds and Sudbury, is The Swan Hotel in Lavenham, perhaps one of England's most iconic hotels.
The Swan dates back to the 15th Century when it played a key role in Lavenham's wool trade. Today it is a quintessential English country hotel and restaurant. Ancient oak beams and inglenook fireplaces blend beautifully with rich furnishings and fabrics to create the perfect ambiance for rest and relaxation. The historic Old Bar boasts a wonderful collection of memorabilia, including a wall signed by British and American airmen stationed at Lavenham Airfield during World War II.
Most rooms have original Tudor features, such as vaulted oak-beamed ceilings, original Medieval wall paintings, inglenook fireplaces and some have romantic canopied beds. All are equipped with hair-dryer, tea and coffee-making facilities, iron and w-fi access.
The addition of a brand new hotel spa, due to be completed in December 2014, will offer a luxurious relaxation area for guests including treatment rooms, relaxation suites, aromatic steam room, hot stone sauna and outdoor vitality pool. Weaversâ€™ House Spa Treatments can be booked in advance and details are on the hotelâ€™s website.
Set in over three acres of landscaped gardens, this grand old villa has been refurbished and re-decorated in contemporary form, with a courtyard, parterre garden and a sun terrace where you can take Afternoon Tea.
The large bedrooms are styled with a minimalist décor and each ensuite bathroom features a walk-in Grohe Rainshower shower as well as a bath. Beds are made with the finest Egyptian cotton bed linen and every room has a hair dryer, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, laptop safe, Satellite TV, a data port for non networked laptop connections and a Direct Dial telephone system. The hotel also has wireless internet hotspots in both public areas and bedrooms.
Start planning your trip
What Is Included in the Price of My Vacation
- Full-time services of two staff - a Walk Leader and Walk Manager
- A backup vehicle for resting walkers and moving luggage
- Comprehensive Travel Information Package and Reading List
- Diverse itineraries with an emphasis on history, geography, culture, peoples, flora and fauna
- Demonstrations, wine tasting, admissions to museums and historic sites
- All ground transfers (ferries, cable cars, trains, etc.)
- Maps and unique souvenirs to commemorate your trip
- First-class accommodations with cultural and historical interest
- All meals - with choices - (Special dietary requirements? No problem!)
- Wine with dinner
- On-trail snacks and refreshments
- All gratuities at hotels and restaurants