7 of the Most Awe-inspiring Boat Trips to Take in Suffolk
With 47 miles of coastline and five river estuaries to its name, Suffolk is the perfect place to explore some of the UK’s most awe-inspiring waterways.
Water plays a pivotal role in the life of the county, yet much of it remains to be discovered by visitors to the area. Taking a boat ride in Suffolk can give you a completely different perspective on the diverse scenery on offer and is a great activity to form part of a short break in the area.
The five estuaries in Suffolk – the Stour, Deben, Orwell, Alde & Ore, and Blyth – have some incredible scenery on display. From estuary mudflats to salt marshes, grazing marshes, and reed beds, the waterways are home to a plethora of wildlife that is truly amazing to see.
Here are the top places to take a boat trip to Suffolk…
On the River Orwell
The River Orwell is a busy hub for trade, with ports like Felixstowe (arguably Britain’s busiest) dominating large lengths of the waterways. However, journey inland a little and you’ll find the reason the river is considered the second most beautiful in England by the Royal Yachting Association. It is here that there is tranquility to be found.
The Sailing Barge Victor
Marrying a majestic, traditionally rigged 19th-century sailing vessel with modern and comfortable facilities, the Sailing Barge Victor offers tourists an amazing way to experience living history on the River Orwell. The fully restored rig provides a number of different opportunities for visitors to experience sailing in Suffolk, from cream tea cruises to private parties with licensed bars.
The Orwell Lady
Hop aboard the Orwell Lady for a cruise with a difference. Ideal for family parties, day trips, catered cruises, music nights and private charters, the Lady was originally a Thames River Cruise Boat and has an open top viewing deck and fully enclosed lower saloon that allows for panoramic views. Regular cruises run from Ipswich past the picturesque Pin Mill, and down to the historic port of Harwich.
The Allen Gardiner
Built in Miami, Florida in 1942 as a South African Air Force air-sea rescue launch, the Allen Gardiner is a fine wooden ship that was rebuilt in 2011 and transported to Ipswich from Durban, South Africa. Cruising from the Wet Dock in Ipswich under the stunning Orwell Bridge, this enchanting cruise includes freshly prepared food and drinks on the tranquil waters of the River Orwell. Offering a choice of brunch, lunch, supper and candlelit dinner cruises for up to 12 passengers, this is an unforgettable experience that you will treasure forever.
On the Deben, Alde and Ore
Deben, Alde and Ore are the best preserved of all the Suffolk estuaries. Vast mudflats and salt marshes play host to plants, birds and animals that will be a joy for wildlife lovers.
The Deben Estuary is a special protection area and within the Suffolk coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so it almost goes without saying that a cruise there would be popular. Deben Cruises is a family run business with trips that depart daily throughout the summer and through to mid-October. The company boat (called Jahan) is an all-weather boat which carries 54 and takes passengers on a 2-hour journey down the winding river path.
An ex-Admiralty motor fishing vessel built during the Second World War, the Lady Florence is the perfect boat to cruise the river. From Orford, you can cruise past Aldeburgh and close to Iken and Snape, where large country house gardens slope towards the water’s edge. After having a delicious meal, you can see Havergate Island and the wilderness of Shingle Street just where the river enters the North Sea. The cruise operates all-year round and carries just 12 passengers, so it’s perfect for private charters if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
On the River Stour
The River Stour is one of the most peaceful rivers in the county, although it has its share of busy hubs too! Running through the Dedham Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the River Stour is also called Constable’s River, after the famous painter who is known for featuring it in many of his paintings. It is probably the most well-known for tourists looking to take a boat trip in Suffolk, as it is home to some major landmark attractions.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery and have a bit of an adventure too with a private guided kayak and paddleboard experience by Reflective Adventures. Venture down the River Stour on a private guided tour and see the sights including Flatford Mill, one of the most popular tourist spots in the area. On a kayak or paddleboard, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with some of the local wildlife, including kingfishers, egrets, herons and, even bats! Evenings are the best time to see the sights as the river is quieter and the sunsets are stunning.
The River Stour Trust
If you’re looking for a more leisurely cruise along this delightful estuary, then the River Stour Trust runs scheduled and chartered trips. There are a number of different boats running throughout the spring/summer/autumn will all operating on the stretch of river between Sudbury, Great Cornard, and Great Henny. The boat, Stour Trusty II is the only powered craft that is allowed to operate lower on the Stour, between Stratford St Mary, Flatford, Dedham, and Brantham, and can accommodate up to eight adults.