Sutton Hoo and Ickworth show off their winter wonders

Sutton Hoo tower

With the trees clear of leaves there are splendid views from the Sutton Hoo viewing tower at this time of the year. - Credit: Paul Geater

The days are starting to get perceptibly longer and we are just a couple of weeks from the first half-term of the year - and Suffolk's National Trust properties are looking forward to receiving more visitors.

The grounds of both the Sutton Hoo and Ickworth estates are open throughout the year - although not all parts of them are open.

Ickworth is preparing for its first major attraction of the year as its snowdrops and other early spring flowers prepare to show themselves to visitors.

Snowdrops in flower at Ickworth Park in Horringer.

Snowdrops in flower at Ickworth Park in Horringer. - Credit: Archant

The main house remains closed until early March, but the cafes, and garden shop are open along with both the parkland and formal gardens - the spring flower displays in the woodlands should be very impressive within the next week or two.

Rosie McVey, visitor experience officer, said; “A carpet of snowdrops can brighten the darkest winters day. Despite the cold, these hardy little flowers can be found in their thousands at Ickworth at the moment.

Snowdrops at Ickworth

Snowdops at Ickworth House near Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

"After a long winter, the delicate white petals and vivid green leaves are a welcome sight, signalling that spring is just around the corner. During February and March, I’d recommend a stroll along Geraldine's Walk, it won’t be long before daffodils, orchids, tulips and bluebells start to make an appearance.”

At Sutton Hoo the estate is open daily for people to visit - non-members can use the car park as a pay-and-display service during the week and most of the facilities, including the main exhibition hall, cafe and Tranmer House are open at weekends.

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You can buy a hot coffee and scone there after your walk!

One feature that is enjoying its first winter is the viewing tower overlooking the burial site. With the leaves off the trees there are even better views from the top of it on a fine day at this time of the year - you can easily see the tops of the cranes at Felixstowe.

The tower is open whenever the estate walks are open - 10am to 4pm every day at this time of the year.

Josh Ward, senior visitor experience officer, said: “This is the first winter and spring that the viewing tower has been open, so it’s a great reason to return as the views are really open at the moment. We’re still experiencing some misty atmospheric mornings and early sunsets, and with the trees without their leaves, you get a completely different view compared to when we first opened the tower last summer.

“Weekends are certainly a hub of activity, with the High Hall exhibition, Tranmer House and the Café open to visitors, offering a space to explore or sit when it rains during the winter months. ‘The Dig’ effect is still having an impact too and interest in the story of what was discovered here back in 1939 continues, which is lovely to see.”