Day out: Walberswick, Suffolk

Relax in the small fishing community of Walberswick, which sits serenely on the River Blyth just as it spills into the North Sea

River and rowing boat

Set in the wildlife-rich Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve, Walberswick is surrounded by marshland, with long views across water meadows and reedbeds, and a sandy, shingly, dune-backed beach that is luxuriously quiet. 

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The boats bobbing on the River Blyth may be for leisure fishing these days, but black-stained fisherman’s huts on stilts evoke the area’s fishing heritage. 

Path through the dunes
View from the sand dunes looking inland across the marshes towards the village of Walberswick on the Suffolk coast/Credit: Getty

History of Walberswick

In its heyday at the turn of the 20th century, 300 boats landed herring at the village fish market, with trade peaking just before the First World War. Fish and seafood are still caught locally along the north bank; Mrs T’s fish and chip shop is licensed, and Sole Bay Fish Co has a smokehouse. 

In the village, drop into the Bell Inn, with views over dunes and sea, where you can sample locally smoked haddock in cheese sauce. The Anchor offers tasty halloumi fries and beer-battered fish and chips, with freshly baked bread available at the bar.

Things to do near Walberswick

This stretch of the Suffolk coast has few busy main roads, making it pleasant and safe for cycling. Hire bikes from Southwold Surf School (surfboard hire and lessons are available, too), or Southwold Cycle Hire. Explore the River Blyth on a Coastal Voyager boat trip, spotting gulls, marsh harriers, herons, cormorants and possibly seals. Until recently, Walberswick was home to the World Crabbing Championships, and local shops sell crabbing buckets, bait and lines. 

Bird on the ground
Spot marsh harriers on the Coastal Voyager boat trip/Credit: Getty

Run by volunteers, Alfred Corry Lifeboat Museum houses the beautifully restored lifeboat named after Alfred Corry, who left £1,500 “for the building, fitting out and equipping of one lifeboat” in his will. Based here between 1893 and 1918, it launched 41 times, saving 47 lives. 

Cross the river aboard the rowing-boat ferry, run by the same family for five generations, and most recently by Dani Church, its first female operator. Alternatively, cross the water on the Bailey bridge.

Easy walks abound: head south to the ‘lost’ village of Dunwich, whose bell still tolls beneath the waves (according to legend). Further on are the coastal lagoons and reedbeds of RSPB Minsmere, and a mile north is the genteel resort of Southwold, with its beach huts, pier and inland lighthouse.

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Words: Adrienne Wyper