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Shotley Peninsula - The Great Outdoors

Part of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Shotley Peninsula is perhaps not as well-known as other coastal areas of Suffolk, but we love it as it offers huge scope for outdoor activities, especially walking, cycling and sailing. A handy guide to the area is the Shotley Explorer map which you can view by clicking here or the Wherstead Explorer which you can view by clicking here.  A few our other favourite outdoor activities to indulge in whilst visiting this charming part area of Suffolk are as follows:-

Pin Mill Walks

  • This lovely walk takes in two of our favourite things; a great riverside pub -The Butt and Oyster, and some beautiful scenery. Pin Mill is a wonderful place to discover, and was a favourite haunt of celebrated children’s author Arthur Ransome of Swallows and Amazons fame. This short walk (2 miles approximately) starts and ends at the Butt and Oyster and takes in stunning riverside scenery, woodland and heathland along the way.
  • Head east from Pin Mill, walking along the foreshore in front of the Butt and Oyster Pub. Carry along the pathway until it turns to the right and you’ll join the Stour and Orwell path.   Turn left at the T junction and continue walking parallel to the River Orwell until the pathway slopes down towards Clamp House, Butterman’s Bay*.  If you’re a self-confessed twitcher, there are lots of birds to look out for in this area including Woodpeckers and Goldcrest.
  • *Butterman’s Bay is the starting point for the famous annual red-sailed Thames Barges match.
  • Before carrying on, we recommend just stopping for a moment to take in the amazing views across the river towards Orwell Park Observatory. Simply breathtaking! Carry on, turning left just before Clamp House until you reach a small sandy beach. This is another lovely place to stop and maybe take a few holiday snaps of the peaceful scenery. Then follow your footsteps back to Clamp House and walk straight on and through the woods.  
  • After passing through a kissing gate, keep on the track with the wood to your right. At the end of the woodland, turn right. Keep on the path through the gorse and continue to the “open access” heathland area. Another twitcher alert! Look out for Linnets here.  These lovely little birds are a protected species and are attracted to feed on the seeds and insects that can be found in this heathland habitat.
  • Carry on, keeping to the pathway and follow it as it bears to the right. Continue straight on into the woods then turn left at the T junction of paths and again head through the woods. When you see another kissing gate, carry on through it to leave the woods and follow the path down to the road via some steep steps.
  • You’re nearly back at the start of the walk now! Simply turn right and you’ll be back at the Butt and Oyster in no time!  A perfect walk and the perfect time to stop and sample some delicious local seafood offered at this famous riverside pub. We really do recommend stopping at The Butt and Oyster for a drink or some food as it offers some amazing views of the river and beyond. For more information on walks in the Pin Mill area click here.

Golden Wood Nature Reserve

If you’re interested in birds, butterflies and bugs, a visit to a lovely conversation site near the tip of the Shotley Peninsula is a must. Golden Wood and Wildflower Meadow is a wonderful conservation site which was donated to the public by local landowners. It’s a truly lovely place to visit and is currently home to over 1200 native hedging plants including dog rose, field maple, holly and crab apple. The trees and hedgerows planted here in 2004, were funded by the Suffolk Coast and Heaths project – a conservation organisation which Suffolk Secrets also supports. This conversation site is still really in its fledgling stages, but in time it is hoped that it will attract dragonflies and butterflies and provide shelter for a variety of nesting birds.  For more information on walks around Shotley and the Wildflower Meadow click here.

Freston Woods and The River Orwell

The area close to the Orwell Bridge is a great place to discover and is home to The Suffolk Food Hall.  There are lots of riverside walking tracks in this area as well as a lovely trail that passes through an ancient wood. Freston Wood dates back to medieval times and is home to many ancient trees.  If you visit during spring, you may be lucky enough to see its spectacular displays of wild garlic and bluebells. For more information on trails in this area The Wherstead Explorer guide is a very handy resource.

Alton Water Park

For outdoor activities of a more watery nature, a visit to Alton Water Park is a must. This large reservoir is located in the northern part of the Shotley Peninsula and offers a great variety of outdoor activities including sailing, paddle-boarding, rowing, fishing, canoeing, walking and windsurfing. Alton Water Park also boasts a fantastic 8-mile cycling path that circles the reservoir. It also hosts the “Great East Swim” – an annual, open-water swimming event with courses ranging from 1 to 5 miles.  

If you’re visiting during summer you can hire rowing boats from Alton Water’s RYA Sailing Centre. To top up your energy reserves, why not stop for a bite to eat at the onsite “Regatta Café” (limited opening hours). For more information on walks, activities, wildlife and things to see and do at Alton Water Park click here