The county of Suffolk is in East Anglia, only about 70 miles from London. It offers a combination of areas of natural beauty, tranquillity and olde-worlde charm, and good links to London.
I think of the county in three regions – the east coast with its flocks of waders, the coast and heaths area of natural beauty, that offer miles of lovely beaches, birdwatching and sailing opportunities. Some of my favourite haunts there are Southwold, Orford, Aldeburgh and the bird reserves – Minsmere is the best known and good for both families and individuals. I find reserves at their quietest early in the week when everybody is at work, the ideal bird reserve for me is one with just me and the birds 😉
The charms of Mid Suffolk are the small towns and villages with historic styles, Lavenham, Eye and Debenham for instance. It’s great cycling country too – inland enough for the edge to come off the winds on the coast, quiet byways and plenty of teashops and pubs to break the journey 😉
West Suffolk has the Breckland towards Thetford Forest, further south it gets dearer and more horsey as it gets closer to Newmarket, and indirectly Cambridge
Many UK PF readers seem to live in London so I added this section on the charms of Suffolk. Given that it’s only an hour and a bit away from London it’s an easy day out or weekend destination, and some finance workers seem to commute from here. It’s easy to get to and from the city – when I worked on the London 2012 Olympics LOCOG had their base in Canary Wharf which was surprisingly easy to get to from Ipswich. Train to Stratford and then tube to Canary Wharf was usually less than two hours.
I moved to Ipswich from London about 25 years ago following employment – nowadays if I were buying a house I would prioritise access to London and Cambridge which would favour the west of the county, with its wool towns and quiet villages, but employment opportunities are not a priority now.
Suffolk is drier that most of the UK
It’s one of those things that you slowly adjust to, but I really feel it when spending a significant time elsewhere in the UK. I’ve lived in London and Southampton, and both (particularly the latter) were wetter than Ipswich. This difference is visible if you look at the Met office climate maps for rainfall, but the pattern of rainfall is also different – when it does rain it tends to chuck it down harder, but the gaps are longer – the days of rain setting seems to agree, though London seems to be drier than I remember it – rain is miserable in the city so maybe this is skewed by that 😉 The prevailing winds in the UK are south-westerly, so I guess this is to be expected as rain clouds have covered more landmass before the get to East Anglia than the west and the midlands.
Transport is the Achilles heel of the county.
Presumably The Firm researched this before establishing a presence here – Ipswich and anywhere on the main line from London to Norwich are well served by rail, and the A12 and A11 connect with London. The A14 is also a good east-west route, from the massive container port of Felixstowe to Cambridge. Other than these the roads are slow, punctuated by numerous 30mph zones in even the smallest village. Unlike Norfolk, which seems to run a 50mph limit for small villages, Suffolk council errs on the side of caution, so any regular road commuter needs to be in easy range of joining one of the arterial routes otherwise the small roads will soak up too much of their time.
In this map you can see that effect (H/T Savill’s via Pieria)
Ipswich seems to be in the 5-10% working in London, but you can also see the 2.5 to 5% regions stretch up along the A12 up to about the turnoff to Southwold (where the road gets a bit slower) and there’s a spur along the A14 which is a fast road, reaching as far as Needham Market and up the A140 to Diss (these commuters may be using the Norwich to London main line)
Visit Suffolk tourism website
Telegraph Norfolk and Suffolk attractions