5 of Suffolk’s most scenic cycle routes
PUBLISHED: 10:00 19 September 2020
Explore the county’s stunning countryside... on your bike.
With autumn just around the corner, it’s the ideal time of year to cycle round and take in some off the stunning sights that Suffolk has to offer.
From exploring estuary lands, to more uncovering hidden historical gems off-the-beaten track, this county has it all.
Whether you opt to head out with your family, friends or venture off for some solo adventures by yourself, here’s five scenic routes across Suffolk that are certainly worth doing.
So grab your bike, pop on your helmet, and take to the great outdoors.
Alton Water to Pin Mill
Explore the beauty of the Shotley Peninsula by cycling from Alton Water Park all the way to Pin Mill – a quaint riverside hamlet on the south bank of the River Orwell. Start your journey from the Alton Water Park car park, and venture towards Strutton. As you make your way through the village, keep cycling through the Shotley Peninsula and you will eventually ride through the settlements of Holbrook Creek, Harkstead and Chelmondiston before arriving at Pin Mill.
Once there, be sure to take in the stunning panoramic views over the River Orwell. Dotted along the water are a number of boats, including many which have been abandoned and ravaged by the forces of nature over time – a definite sight to behold. Before you continue back to Alton Water, make sure you stop off at the Butt & Oyster, an historic pub that serves a wide selection of locally-prepared food and drink.
When you’re ready to make your way back, leave Pin Mill and meander through the village of Holbrook, eventually arriving back at Alton Water. This 22km route should take roughly three hours - not including any time spent in the pub.
The Towers and Spires Tour, Bury St Edmunds
If exploring Suffolk’s churches is something you’ve always wanted to do, the Towers and Spires Tour is the ideal route to cycle this autumn. Departing from St Edmundsbury Cathedral in Bury St Edmunds, this 48km trail will guide you past a number of iconic church spires and towers across the county.
Upon leaving Bury St Edmunds, you will make your way through a number of villages before eventually looping back to the start. As you ride through Great Barton, Pakenham, Thurston, Tostock, Woolpit, Shelland, Rattlesden, Drinkstone, Hessett and Rougham, each of these villages features a stunning church that truly has to be seen to be believed.
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Awe-inspiring architecture coupled with fascinating history makes this a beautiful way to spend a day this autumn season. To truly make an adventure of it, the Towers and Spires Tour has a number of pubs and cafes along the way – perfect for pit stops as you ride between villages.
The Jockey’s Trail, Newmarket
Explore the true heart of East Anglia on bike by taking on The Jockey’s Trail cycle route. Starting from Newmarket – the horse racing capital of the world – you will venture north west towards the Fen edge villages of Burwell, Reach and Swaffham Prior.
As you ride through these settlements, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a number of historical sites, including Burwell Castle - an unfinished medieval enclosure castle built by King Stephen I that dates back to the 12th century, and Foster’s Mill - a commercially working windmill that still makes organic flour to this day.
This 45-km route continues through the villages of Swaffham Bulbeck, Dullingham, Stetchworth, Cheveley and Moulton before arriving back in Newmarket. Particularly picturesque, there’s a number of quaint cottages and houses overlooking the green in Moulton, and several small bridges crossing the River Kennett. Gently rolling, this route features a number of easy to moderate climbs.
The Saints Tour, north Suffolk
Referring to a cluster of villages located in a tranquil region of north Suffolk, The Saints are nestled between the rivers Blyth and Waveney, and are ideal for some rural exploration this autumn.
Heading off from Bungay, this looping 25km route will guide you through a handful of settlements, including Mettisham, Ilketshall St Andrew, Rumburgh, South Elham, St Michael South Elham and St Peter South Elham before returning to Bungay.
Be sure keep an eye out for the iconic St Peter’s Brewery – an independent brewery that’s been based in St Peter South Elham since the 1990s, and Mettingham Castle, a fortified manor house that was built in the 14th century. If you’re looking for a refreshment pit stop on your cycle route, half way into your journey is the Rumburgh Buck, a family-run traditional country pub that prides itself on real ale and delicious food.
The Painter’s Trail, Constable Country
One of Suffolk’s pride and joys, Constable Country straddles the Suffolk/Essex border, and comprises of Dedham Vale and Stour Valley. Well-known for being especially picturesque, cycling around it is one of the most efficient ways to see the sights that went on to inspire artists such as namesake John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough. While the entire Painter’s Trail is just over 111km long, a much shorter section of the route can be done in around 10.7km which will still guarantee you some beautiful sights as you meander through a number its villages and hamlets.
Starting in Stoke by Nayland, leave the village and head towards Withermarsh Green and onto Gifford’s Hall Park – home to a stunning Grade I-listed building. As the route splits, you will want to head towards Snakes Woods – an ancient woodland and nature reserve that is the ideal spot for a quick pit stop.
Continue onwards, passing Shelly Priory Farm before heading into Polstead - home of St Mary’s, a medieval church that incorporates Norman and Anglo-Saxon elements. Finally, the route winds towards Nayland, and eventually loops back around to Stoke-by-Nayland. A fairly short trail, there are a number of hills throughout, but there are plenty of places to stop and rest along the way.
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