What’s Ballingdon Mill like?
Check in and chill out at this 18th Century windmill on the outskirts of Sudbury, a historic market town in Suffolk. It has been lovingly converted into an artists’ retreat providing basic yet cosy accommodation. We visited in winter – the perfect time to curl up in front of the wood-burning stove with a good book. It’s such a wonderfully quirky place, bands have even been inspired to record albums here.
How dog-friendly is Ballingdon Mill?
Pretty good. Dog bowls are provided but you will need to bring your own bed, food and blankets. Be aware that there are quite large gaps between the stair slats to get to the living area on the first floor – Ernie wasn’t too sure about them so needed to be carried up and down. A bigger dog may be more able to manage but it’s worth being aware of, just in case. Dogs must also be kept on lead in the garden area because there are free-ranging chickens.
Tell me more about Ballingdon Mill
It is billed as an artists’ retreat so is simply furnished and decorated. The loo is not located inside the property – which may be a dealbreaker for some – but if you don’t mind nipping across the drive to the owners’ house, where your private bathroom is located, you’ll get on just fine.
Inside, the mill is surprisingly spacious. On the ground floor, you’ll find the kitchen, which is well-stocked with all the basics and a dining table for four. The main living area is upstairs, however, and it’s all heated by a large wood-burning stove. The simple accommodation consists of a comfy double bed, a sofa (that can also be used as a bed) and a couple of occasional chairs. There is also a flatscreen TV and DVD player, as well as a selection of films, books and games to wile away the evenings.
Although the mill is essentially “off-grid” and encourages you to chill out, it does have wifi so you don’t have to cut yourself off from the rest of the world completely. There are also bikes that can be borrowed and lots of information about walks and cycling routes in the area to help you explore the local area.
What’s the food like about Ballingdon Mill?
This is a self-catering property but guests are provided with everything they need for a continental breakfast. When we visited, there was a whole host of items including tea, coffee, juice, milk, bread, butter, yogurt and muesli. A selection of preserves were also provided, as well as kitchen essentials, like salt, pepper, oil and vinegar.
If you don’t feel like cooking, walk two minutes to The Cyclist – a dog-friendly cafe-cum-pub run by the owners. Alternatively, stroll in to Sudbury. Dogs are allowed in the bar area of The Lady Elizabeth and I can highly recommend The Codfather for takeaways. The portions are huge, the chunky chips are delicious and the pies and pasties are homemade.
Are there resident dogs at Ballingdon Mill?
No, but you are guaranteed to meet plenty of other pooches when you’re out exploring the area.
Where are the best dog walks near Ballingdon Mill?
Suffolk is heaven for dogs, and there are lots of walking trails and footpaths in and around Sudbury. The town is renowned for its “common lands” and meadows and the 3.5-mile Gainsborough Trail is a great introduction
Named after painter Thomas Gainsborough – who was born in Sudbury – the circular route links all the town’s main green spaces. The Stour Valley Path is also well worth exploring. This 60-mile route tracks the River Stour through Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Parts of it follow the old railway line which, until the 1960s, linked Sudbury to Cambridge.
What Ernie loved about Ballingdon Mill
The wood-burning stove, having so many great walks on the doorstep, watching the chickens outside
What I loved about Ballingdon Mill
The quirky building, the peaceful location, cosying up in front of the fire in the evening
How to book Ballingdon Mill
A night’s stay at the mill, which sleeps up to five people, starts from £50. For more information or to book, check out the mill’s listing on Airbnb.