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9 of the loveliest Suffolk benches to visit with a friend in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 19:30 03 November 2020 | UPDATED: 08:43 04 November 2020

The pond through the trees in Christchurch Park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The pond through the trees in Christchurch Park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Sarah Lucy Brown

The Prime Minister has said we’re allowed to meet one friend for a walk or a ‘sandwich on a bench’ - here are some of our favourite locations.

As we enter the next phase of lockdown, people are permitted to meet a friend outdoors, provided social distancing guidlines are adhered to Picture: Getty ImagesAs we enter the next phase of lockdown, people are permitted to meet a friend outdoors, provided social distancing guidlines are adhered to Picture: Getty Images

With new lockdown restrictions in effect across England as of Thursday November 5, this means you are now unfortunately prohibited from meeting people indoors socially. But did you know you can still meet outside?

You are currently allowed to visit outdoors public places with those either from your household or someone in your support bubble, provided you follow social distancing guidelines.

Outdoor public places include parks, beaches, the countryside and public gardens.

Here’s nine of our favourite spots across the county that provide you with great views – and somewhere to sit – this autumn.

Reflections at Alton Water  Picture: SIMON PAGE/IWITNESSReflections at Alton Water Picture: SIMON PAGE/IWITNESS

Alton Water, Tattingstone

Following the recent Government announcement, Suffolk’s Alton Park will remain open for the foreseeable future. With both the tracks and play parks open, there are a number of benches dotted around the park’s reservoir – providing you with some idyllic views of this vast stretch of water.

The main track around the water is eight miles in length and is used by both walkers and cyclists. During wet weather, the path can become muddy, so remember to bring wellies for your socially-distanced meet.

If you’re looking to grab a quick bite to eat or a hot drink to warm you up, Alton Park’s café will be providing a takeaway service, serving a selection of homemade treats and locally-sourced refreshments to-go.

Looking through the trees at the National Trust area at Pin Mill  Picture: MICK WEBB/IWITNESSLooking through the trees at the National Trust area at Pin Mill Picture: MICK WEBB/IWITNESS

National Trust woodlands, Pin Mill

Tucked behind the Butt and Oyster pub in Pin Mill is an area of National Trust woodlands that is certainly a sight to behold.

This slightly hilly route is currently covered in autumnal hues aplenty - but can be a bit boggy, so make sure you have wellies or waterproof shoes on. About halfway through the two-mile trail you’ll come across a bench that faces the River Orwell, overlooking a number of house boats gently bobbing up and down on the water.

If you decide to carry on walking, you’ll eventually make your way towards a small beach area that’s covered in sea plants a variety of birds.

The pond through the trees in Christchurch Park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe pond through the trees in Christchurch Park Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Christchurch Park, Ipswich

If you’re still having to head into the office this month, why not catch some fresh air on your lunch break by heading to Ipswich’s Christchurch Park? Close to the centre of town, it’s the ideal spot to meet someone from your support bubble for a brief socially-distanced meet to help you break up the day.

Simply make your way towards the bottom of the park (which can be accessed via the entrance on Fonnereau Road), and there you will find a number of benches facing the war memorial. With the architectural wonder that is Christchurch Park behind you, the pond to your right and a number of ancient broadleaf trees surrounding you, you’ll be glad you got out for a quick breather.

If you’re feeling a tad peckish, make a pit stop at the Tea Room at Christchurch Mansion (which can be accessed from the park). Open seven days a week between 10.30an and 3.30pm, it will be serving takeaway hot drinks and snacks such as sausage rolls and scones.

If you're planning on having a sit down at Felixstowe Ferry, you'll be able to spot Bawdsey Manor across the water Picture: Getty ImagesIf you're planning on having a sit down at Felixstowe Ferry, you'll be able to spot Bawdsey Manor across the water Picture: Getty Images

Felixstowe Ferry

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Venture just a couple of miles northeast of Felixstowe and you’ll arrive at Felixstowe Ferry, an ideal spot to help you watch the world go by this autumn.

There are a number of benches located at Felixstowe Ferry that face out towards both the sea and Bawdsey Manor across the River Deben estuary - providing you with a much-needed slice of coastal peace and quiet during this portion of lockdown. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars and a flask of hot tea or coffee with you so you can birdwatch as you natter away on your socially-distanced meet.

Clare Castle Country Park  Picture: ANDREW MUTIMER/IWITNESSClare Castle Country Park Picture: ANDREW MUTIMER/IWITNESS

Clare Country Park, Clare

Dubbed Suffolk’s most diverse country park, Clare Country Park near Sudbury is a great place to visit for a quick walk and a sit down this month.

Open seven days a week, this 36-acre park is filled with plenty of benches, giving you ample opportunity to get back to nature as you hang out with your household or sensibly meet with someone from your social bubble. Be sure to head next to the mound - located in the west end of the park, you can enjoy views of the historic 13th century Clare Castle over in the distance. If you’re looking for something warming, the park’s café will be open six days a week (closed on Mondays) between 9am and 3.30pm, serving hot drinks, bacon and sausage baps, paninis and toasties on a takeaway-only basis.

Brandon Country Park

Walking through Brandon Country Park woods  Picture: ELIZABETH OAKLEY/IWITNESSWalking through Brandon Country Park woods Picture: ELIZABETH OAKLEY/IWITNESS

With over 30 acres of parkland to ramble through, Brandon Country Park is filled with open heathland, green forests and gorgeous views all around.

You’ll be spoilt for choice this autumn as you will be able to meet someone from your social bubble on picnic benches either by the lake, near the café or inside the historic walled garden.

Open every day of the year from dawn to dusk, you and your family will also be able to grab some to-go refreshments from the Copper Beech Tearoom. Open between 10am and 3.30pm, last hot food orders are at 2.30pm.

Abbey Gardens, Bury St Edmunds

One of the views at Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds  Picture: PAMELA BIDWELL/IWITNESSOne of the views at Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds Picture: PAMELA BIDWELL/IWITNESS

Situated in the heart of Bury St Edmunds is Abbey Gardens, an award-winning 14-acre space that sits on the site of a former Benedictine Abbey.

Ideal for a socially-distanced meet, there’s plenty of space to ensure you don’t cross paths with anyone else, while ensuring you’re able to still get outside for a much-needed breather during lockdown.

With benches aplenty in the centre of the gardens, you can enjoy a rest and a natter as you gaze upon the towering St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Polstead

Nip to the picturesque village of Polstead – located on the edge of Dedham Vale – for a quick escape to the country this season.

Atop the grassy mound is a wooden bench that is perfect to rest on as you soak up the simply stunning views that overlook Box Valley. As you descend down the hill, you’ll find yourself ending up at Bell’s Hill corner.

Felixstowe Beach, Felixstowe

If sea air is what you crave, then a trip to Felixstowe Beach is certainly what you need. Opposite Mannings Amusements on the seafront are a number of sheltered benches – perfect for you and a family member to meet up on.

Wrap up warm, take a flask with you and be sure to grab some fish and chips from one of the chippies dotted along the seafront as you watch the waves crash onto the beach.

If you’re able to, why not get up early enough to try and catch the sunrise? That first light of the day simply can’t be beaten.


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