Ruff Guide to… Southwold, Aldeburgh & Dunwich

The historic county of Suffolk lies at the heart of East Anglia and its 50-mile coastline is gorgeous. Largely undisturbed, it is home to stunning landscapes and dramatic open skies but it’s not all about the great outdoors. Bustling market towns and quaint fishing villages make it a magnet for tourists. Locally-sourced food and arts festivals are also popular, and help make the Suffolk Heritage Coast a feast for the mind, body and soul.

Southwold Pier
Southwold Pier © Clifford Hicks, VisitSuffolk.com

Dog-friendly Southwold, Aldeburgh & Dunwich: the must-sees

Southwold is a charming seaside town with much to offer visitors, from beaches to boutique shops. Dogs are allowed inside many of them – including the flagship store of Adnams Brewery. If you like your beer, the shop is well worth a visit. It also stocks locally-produced gin and vodka, as well as quirky kitchen gadgets. I can also recommend the £20 brewery tour – but you’ll have to leave your dog at home for that one.

Southwold Pier is also a must if you’re in the area. It’s been done up in a cool steampunk style and is home to several shops and restaurants. Try The Beach Café, which is dog-friendly. Look out for pier’s hand-crafted metal figurines and make sure you visit the hall of mirrors and the Waterclock, which puts on an impressive display every 30 minutes.

Sculpture at Snape Maltings, Suffolk
“Family Of Man” by Barbera Hepworth at Snape Maltings, Suffolk.

Snape Maltings – home to the annual Aldeburgh Festival – is a great place to while away a few hours, too. This “creative campus” is a thriving arts and music hub, thanks to former local resident, composer Benjamin Britten.

Here, in this former Victorian industrial complex, you’ll find one of the world’s leading music centres. Snape Maltings is also home to an eclectic collection of galleries and shops selling everything from antiques to crafts. Dogs are allowed in a handful of the independent boutiques and the onsite pub, the Plough & Sail. When we visited, there was a food market going on so Ernie loved sampling the locally-produced meats and cheeses!

Nearby Aldeburgh is fantastically dog-friendly, too. We loved the pebble beach, colourful houses and and all the pet-friendly shops, such as Collen and Clare. Almost every store has a water bowl outside – a sure sign your four-legged friend will be welcome.

Water bowl by dog-friendly sign in Aldeburgh, Suffolk
One of the many dog bowls we came across in Aldeburgh

Further north, there’s the East Anglia Transport Museum, near Lowestoft. Here, you can take a trip back in time on one of many old buses or trams – and your dog can even join you for a ride. Entry costs £9 for adults while dogs are allowed in for free.

Easton Farm Park, near Woodbridge, also makes for a great day out. This family-friendly attraction offers pony rides, cuddles with baby animals such as pigs and sheep and a miniature railway. Tickets cost £9 for adults and well-behaved dogs on leads are welcome to explore the grounds.

If horses are your thing, you’ll be pleased to hear dogs are welcome at The Suffolk Punch Trust in Hollesley. Learn how the county’s famous horses shaped the local landscape before enjoying one of the signposted walks around the farm. Again, entry costs £9 for adults and is free for dogs.

Ernie with my niece and nephew on Dunwich Beach
Ernie explores Dunwich Beach with his hooman cousins, Ellie and Nate

Dog-friendly Southwold, Aldeburgh & Dunwich: the best walks

Suffolk isn’t short of beaches but if you want to have one almost to yourself, head to Dunwich. Known as “the lost city of England”, this tiny village was once a bustling port but essentially, it washed away during the Middle Ages. Only a handful of people live in the village now but there’s still a great pub (see below) and you can’t beat a stroll on the beach beneath the cliffs. Don’t forget to listen for the ghostly church bells tolling out at sea.

Just up the road you’ll find the Dunwich Heath & Beach nature reserve, which is owned by the National Trust. It is best visited in the summer, when colourful heather carpets the ground. Take a look at the National Trust website for some great dog walk suggestions.

Man rows tourists across river on the Walberswick Ferry
The Walberswick Ferry

From Southwold, you can walk to the neighbouring village of Walberswick in around 40 minutes. But if your legs are aching – or you only want to walk one way – hop aboard the Walberswick Ferry. This traditional rowboat service has been offered by the Church family for more than 125 years during the summer months. Single fares cost £1 for adults while dogs travel free.

It’s lovely to stroll alongside the River Deben in Woodbridge and there’s more to Snape Maltings than just shops, too. The River Alde runs right alongside it and the surrounding marshland is popular with both walkers and bird watchers. Click here to find out about the local walking trails.

People queuing for fish and chips in Aldeburgh
The famous Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop – complete with queue!

Dog-friendly Southwold, Aldeburgh & Dunwich: the best pubs and cafes

Aldeburgh is renowned for its fish and chips and it would be criminal to miss out. The best come from the imaginatively-named Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop, which has been in business for more than 50 years. There’s a reason the queue is always out of the door! If you don’t want to queue, check out the family-run fish shop’s other locations, The Golden Galleon and The Upper Deck.

The Tea Hut in Woodbridge is a great place to refuel after a walk along the River Deben. Dogs are welcome inside but there’s also a lovely deck that’s great during the summer months. The King’s Head is also worth a visit for the “Mutt’s Menu” alone. All items cost £1 and delicacies include Honey-Dried Pig Snout and Cow Ears. You’ll also get to meet resident Labradors, Sydney and Buddy.

If you like popping out for coffee and cake, you’ll love Honey + Harvey, which has branches in Woodbridge and Melton. Many pubs in Southwold also welcome pets, including the nautical but nice Lord Nelson. Many of the pubs, cafes and restaurants really champion Suffolk produce, which is great to see.

Ernie looks out of the bedroom window at The Ship at Dunwich
Ernie checks out the view from our room at The Ship at Dunwich

Dog-friendly Southwold, Aldeburgh & Dunwich: where to stay

Suffolk has plenty of pet-friendly places where you can rest your weary head. The Ship at Dunwich and The Westleton Crown both have a lot of history, while the Crown & Castle in Orford bills itself as a “restaurant with rooms”.

If you prefer self-catering accommodation, head to Letheringham Mill, a short drive from the coast in Easton. Here, dogs are encouraged to  roam the grounds off-lead – one of the many reasons why guests return time and again. To see our latest reviews of accommodation in Suffolk, click here.

How do I get to Southwold, Aldeburgh & Dunwich?

The Suffolk Heritage Coast is surprisingly easy to reach. Roadwise, the A12, which starts in East London, runs through the heart of Suffolk via the county town of Ipswich. It takes approximately two hours to reach from London. The coastline is well served by the rail network, too.

Where can I find out more?

For further information about the Suffolk Heritage Coast or to get more ideas for dog-friendly things to see and do, check out the official Suffolk tourism website.


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