Suffolk and Essex: New guide picks out beauty spots

SUFFOLK and Essex have been singled out for their beautiful countryside in a new guide encouraging British tourists to make the most of attractions on their own doorstep.

According to the Lonely Planet guide, Suffolk is “littered with picturesque villages seemingly lost in time, and quaint seaside resorts that have doggedly refused to sell their souls to tourism”, all of which make the county a “delightfully tranquil destination”.

Some of the highlights picked out by the guide’s authors include – perhaps unsurprisingly – historic destinations such as Sutton Hoo and Bury St Edmunds, the picturesque countryside of the Stour Valley, and beauty spots like Lavenham, Aldeburgh and Southwold.

Tim Passmore, chief executive of Choose Suffolk, welcomed the county’s inclusion in the guide and said he hoped it would encourage more people to sample its charm and boost the �1.8billion which tourism already adds to the county’s economy.

“Anything that helps to promote what we have got here is an excellent idea,” he said. “We need to put Suffolk on the map.”

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Essex comes in for some praise as well, although not without addressing some of the negative images about the county.

The guide says: “Ah, Essex; home to chavs (bling, bling youfs), bottle blonds, boy racers and brash seaside resorts – or so the stereotype goes.

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“The county’s inhabitants have been the butt of some of England’s cruellest jokes and greatest snobbery for years, but beyond the fake Burberry bags and slots ‘n’ bumper car resorts, there’s a rural idyll of sleepy medieval villages and rolling countryside.”

Despite the faint praise, Colchester is singled out as the county’s top destination with its historic castle and ancient walls as well as its maze of narrow city centre streets, followed by Southend.

In a slight snub for some of the county’s finer destinations, there is no mention of coastal Frinton, historic Maldon or picturesque Finchingfield.

Commenting on Suffolk’s popularity, Mr Passmore said: “I think it’s the mix of landscape and the accessibility – it’s much closer to London than other places – and Suffolk has lots of little villages and market towns which are very attractive.

“We also have an unspoilt coastline which is very easy to walk around, and we’ve got the second highest concentration of sailing boats in the country after The Solent with all our river estuaries.

“People find it a very attractive place to be, and there’s also a variety of things to do.”

He added: “Suffolk has always tended to be a bit reactive rather than proactive, but now we need to attract more visitors here and make them feel welcome.

“If there’s one thing we need to keep improving, it’s the general appearance of Suffolk, so we’ve got to look at cleanliness of beaches, toilets and bins to make sure people have a really good experience.”

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