252 Reviews

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Date of travel

Jan, 2015

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Adult family

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Just a few miles along the road from Snape, even shorter if you take the sailors' path along the coast, is Aldeburgh. No matter what your interests there are few better places for a day out, stretching into the evening if you wish or – out of season – overnight.

The season is the usual English summer plus any time there's music at Snape Maltings or in one of the venues in the town. There is plenty of accommodation but the best is booked well in advance.

Living within an hour's drive we don't need to stay: we have even been there and back twice in a day when the weather took command. This visit meant no need of accommodation although fortunately there were cafes available for the essential breaks and refreshment.

Out of season there is no great parking problem. We usually find a place on the High Street. This is free though time-restricted; otherwise the car parks range from reasonable but beyond most of the town or central and fairly pricey. If you plan to include a walk the cheap ones allow one route in and another one out.

Our walk could have started from either end though again we found a central spot, close to the box office for Aldeburgh Music. An alley nearby gives on to Crag Path, close to where Benjamin Britten first lived in the town. If there ever were crags they are long gone – forget the cliff coming down or the boy falling to his death in "Peter Grimes".

What Crag Path offers is an almost unlimited view of the sea: only the two coastguard towers – one now an art gallery – and beached fishing boats obtrude. The houses are below surge tide level so all have a flood gate to be inserted in front of their doors. This applies to many on the High Street too. All are weather-beaten, their bright paintwork almost a futile gesture of defiance. Everyone knows the sea will burst through in the not too distant future so enjoy what they can while they can.

The walk, either north or south, allows distant views of wind turbines, passing ships and with luck a seal as well as the ubiquitous gulls. The Sizewell power station closes the northern prospect although it takes a walk in that direction to reach Maggi Hambling's monument to Britten and the recently constructed bird hides. Taking that route gives the option of visiting the quaint Moot Hall and – just above the High Street – the church with its memorial window by John Piper.

At the southern end there's the Wentworth Hotel, open all year though unfortunately the Aldeburgh Fish and Chip Shop seemed to be taking a winter break. The High Street offers a range of shops but in a sign of the times some we have known over the years have closed. The buildings, including the Old Customs House, are every bit as unusual as the Crag Path houses.

Given the range of cafes, and having already had lunch, we settled on a return to Munchies, now of "Aldeburghand Southwold", for excellent snacks and cakes with matching quality of coffee.

There being no such thing as bad weather only inadequate clothing we took our time returning to the car and travelled home before the early sunset presented the driver with a problem.

Had we stayed to eat, The Lighthouse would have been first choice; nearby there is the Cinema where live relays of music, dance and opera are shown and they say the audience wears evening dress. If only that still happened at Covent Garden!


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