Welcome to Ivy Grange Farm Barn
Eating and Drinking
If you are visiting Norwich, check out The Bicycle Shop on St Benedict's Street- it's a great place to eat and people watch! Very popular, good simple food and great music in a separate space downstairs. It's small though so call ahead to book or check what's on 01603 625777
In case you hadn't noticed, we attach great importance to good food! There's lots of good local produce around and we love seeing people cooking here and trying out different things. We are always happy to recommend good places to shop for some of the best produce that Suffolk has to offer! A good starting place is Black Dog Deli in Halesworth (our nearest market town) as well as Focus Wholefoods and several of the other independent shops, including butchers, greengrocers etc.
If you fancy exploring the Broads by bike, there’s a useful document here with lots of information about transport links. And of course we’re just two-and-a-bit miles from Brampton Station so you can get up to Beccles and Lowestoft by train or head south to pedal around the southern part of Suffolk, including market towns such as the ever popular Woodbridge.
For fans of Roger Deakin’s book Waterlog, there are a couple of places mentioned in the book that are within easy reach: you can swim in the River Waveney at Outney Meadow just on the edge of Bungay, and at the Locks Inn at Geldeston (one of our favourite places to swim).
There’s great sea swimming at nearby Covehithe (where you can also see at first hand the eroding coastline and read about it in WG Sebald's Rings of Saturn), as well as at Southwold and Walberswick and slightly further afield at Dunwich. Walberswick is our favourite place to swim because of its gently shelving beach which is mostly sand with little shingle (Southwold and Dunwich tend to be more pebbles than sand). When the tide's out at Walberswick there's a large pool (near the mouth of the river) which is great for small children to run in an out. The dunes help create a sheltered environment too. One of the things we love to do in summer is to cycle there for a pre-breeakfast swim and then have croissant and coffee sitting in the sunshine of a little courtyard cafe in Walberswick village - heaven!
Southwold and Walberswick, two great seaside towns facing each other across the Blyth Estuary, are some 10 miles east of Ivy Grange Farm. If you aren't already familiar with their delights, a visit to both is a must. Walberswick is delightfully old fashioned, very popular with crabbers during the summer season and has great tea shops and gift/craft shops by The Green. Good pubs too! Southwold is bigger and has Britain's newest pier with some interesting mechanical toys and exhibits including a big water feature clock, inspired by Tim Hunkin. Adnams Brewery is in Southwold and has a terrific shop and restaurant/cafe. There are masses of independent shops, good second-hand bookshops, plenty of places to eat and drink and a fantastic lighthouse to visit (where you can climb the seemingly endless spiral staircase).
There's now great new river trips up the Blyth Estuary, run by the Walberswick Ferry team - we haven't tried it yet but it's high on our to-do list as we've heard such good things.
The Saints - we’re right on the southern edge of “The Saints”, where you can famously get lost! Worth exploring by bike or car – remember to take a map! Have a look here for some background.
Covehithe is our closest beach, about 7 miles due east. You can see up close how the sea is eroding the coastline, park by the “Church within a Church” and walk to the end of the road, which now disappears into the sea. There’s some great walking (and swimming) from here – we’ve got guidebooks and maps in the barn for you to borrow.
For a fun way to see the River Waveney (and maybe a kingfisher or otter if you are lucky) try the Big Dog Ferry which runs between Geldeston and Beccles. The boat can take 12 people and can accommodate bikes (though it's wise to book ahead to be sure) and it's a great trip from Beccles up to the Locks Inn at Geldeston for lunch and then a leisurely ride back. The skipper is great and will fill you in on what to look out for on the ride, including the old tree trunk when the kingfisher likes to sit.
Stargazing: we are blessed with big dark skies and it's lovely to watch the star formations at any time of year and the shooting stars in particular during August. There is a nearby Observatory at Seething which runs public events that include use of the telescope in the Observatory. They encourage children (8+) to come along to events and, if you've never seen Saturn through a telescope, it's a must! Check their programme of events on the website,
Dunwich Heath is always worth a visit. It’s a large expanse of heathland overlooking the sea, very close to Minsmere. It has a good tea-room too.
Don’t miss a trip to Orford Ness. It’s a strange, wild place; fantastic for photography and home to a wide range of wildlife, a lighthouse and miles of pebbles and beach. On your way to the pier, check out Pinney’s of Orford for fresh seafood too. You can have a good day out in Orford, visiting the pubs, antique shops and castle.
Thorpeness is fun for the House in the Clouds as well as boating on the Meare or exploring this wonderfully old-fashioned seaside town.
Just down the coast from Thorpeness, look at Maggi Hambling’s Scallop on Aldeburgh Beach, and take in the Britten tour. If you have time, Aldeburgh cinema is well worth looking in on and carries the NT Live and Met Opera programmes.
St Andrew’s Church at Westhall didn’t make it into Simon Jenkins' book on Britain's top thousand churches, but it’s definitely worth a visit, not least if there's a special national event going on, when the artists in the village pull together and create something truly marvellous! Of Norman origin (with a good font and arch) and with a celebrated roodscreen, it's in a beautiful setting at the very far end of the village down a winding country lane.
Also nearby is a fine example of a round tower church at Spexhall (with one of our favourite walks going through the churchyard and across the fields at the back - ask us for details).
The Church Tower at Beccles is open in the summer months and the effort of climbing the stairs is rewarded with panoramic views from the roof (for those not troubled by vertigo).
Slightly further afield, Blythburgh's “Cathedral of the Marshes” - Holy Trinity - does feature in Simon Jenkins’ top thousand. It’s glorious and is illuminated at night. And climb up the steep spiral staircase to check out the tiny chapel up there with wonderful views over the marshes as well as the 17th century Nun's prayer.
The “Church within a Church” (opposite) at Covehithe is interesting, and there’s more in the way of ecclesiastical architecture at Dunwich (as well as the excellent Ship Inn).
If you prefer your architecture modern, Alain de Botton's Balancing Barn is nearby too, on the coast just south of Walberswick.
The Saints is an area of small hamlets just to the north west of us - great for cycling and with a fantastic range of churches to visit as well as St Peter's Brewery, which is a fine piece of 15th century architecture that happens to offer brewery tours.
There's lots of local gardens which participate in the Open Gardens scheme. There’s also a good number of National Trust houses and gardens in the area. Somerleyton House is within easy driving distance, while closer to home there are the formal gardens at Raveningham or you can walk or cycle past the huge gardens at Heveningham Hall (but unfortunately you can’t get any closer than this). Redisham Hall Nurseries is definitely worth a visit if you are a keen(ish) gardener; it's a gentle 3 mile cycle or drive from Ivy Grange Farm and is in a beautiful setting on the Redisham Hall Estate - they've got a good range of plants for sale, amazing heated greenhouses you can poke your nose into and they have open days when you can explore the walled veg garden (even when the walled garden isn't open, you can peep in through the gateway). Highly recommended for a visit!
Halesworth has a good range of shops; there’s a big Co-op on the edge of the town and a very good range of smaller specialist shops within the town itself, including the Focus organic store (with a good gift selection and a clothes boutique next door) as well as a Deli for good local cheeses and produce. There's a good butchers and two greengrocers as well as a hardware store and bicycle shop. There are antiques shops and gift/interiors shops and newsagents and great cafes (Black Dog Deli is a favourite). Halesworth also has an excellent selection of antique and junk shops dotted throughout The Thoroughfare.
Bungay also has a number of antique and junk type shops as well as gift shops and is a great place to find unusual presents. You can visit Clive Davies at work in his pottery and buy mugs, bowls, vases; he also takes commissions and is well worth looking in on. There are greengrocers, wholefood shops, butchers, fishmongers, a micro-brewery (The Green Dragon) and more.
Beccles sits right on the Waveney, and is famous as the Gateway to the Broads. There’s plenty in the way of shops – a big supermarket as well as many smaller individual shops catering for all needs. Bailey's Delicatessen is well worth a visit whether for shopping or eating upstairs.
Walberswick: if you want to buy your fish fresh off the boats, head for the shacks along the quay (follow signs to The Harbour as you enter Southwold); Samantha K's is our favourite and further down, Sole Bay is also very popular. And when you get back to Ivy Grange Farm, dig out the huge pan with griddle for cooking over the campfire and emulate some of our yurt guests from 2014 and make a campfire paella, or follow in the footsteps of one of our Masterchef winners and create an amazing crab risotto!
Southwold is perfect for a holiday amble and shop - lots of seaside-y type things for sale as well as good butchers, delis, greengrocers and an amazing pharmacy. If you enjoy hand-crafted things, you must check out Craftco, a co-operative of arts and crafts people with a shop in the town which sells a fantastic range of gifts, art and crafts.
There’s plenty of wildlife around. The RSPB reserve at Minsmere is a must at any time of the year. You can walk through the reserve down to the sea, wander through the sand dunes for a bit and then head back into the reserve. There’s a big shop and cafe too where you can sit inside or out and eat warming local soup or have tea and home-made cake.
We really love the Hen Reedbeds (managed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust) which, like Minsmere, is well worth a visit at any time of year. In autumn the reedbeds are particularly good for the murmuration of starlings (big gathering, or roosting) just before dusk. And if you visit the reedbeds, you should also visit Holy Trinity church at Blythburgh, the “Cathedral of the Marshes”. You could make an outing of it and check out the White Hart Inn and if it’s sunny, sit in the beer garden right next to the Blyth River and watch the wildlife whilst enjoying a local brew and food.
Waveney Bird Club is a really friendly and welcoming group of people who love birds - watching, supporting, ringing, quizzing, the lot. They run a number of great activities throughout the year, including an annual event to listen to Nightjars. They are happy to welcome guest members at their events - you can see their extensive programme on the website - and you'll need to let them know you're planning to come. Talk to us if anything is of interest and we'll put you in touch. We're keen members so you might see us there too!
Suffolk Wildlife Trust supports many reserves both large and small within the area. Find out more on their website. The newly established Carlton Marshes, on the Waveney River, is well worth a visit. Cycle there and bring your bikes back on the train!
The Suffolk/Norfolk coastline is awash with wildlife at different times of the year, from sea birds to seals.
Or you can just sit in the meadow and see what wanders by....