Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weekend trip from London - Aldeburgh, town of fish and chips, ice-cream and a big boat pond


Aldeburgh, Suffolk
Time from London:
app 2.5hrs by train and bus
True, you would probably have your calendar filled if you are based in London. However, there will be this odd weekend or two when you just to get away from the hustle and bustle but would prefer to do it without having to take the extra day off. Better still fit it all within a day trip.

Aldeburgh (pronounced as 'Old Borough') came highly recommended by a pal for a weekend trip out from London. A seaside town two hour train ride from London Liverpool Street station followed by a 15min cab ride or a 30min bus ride, it counts among one of the favourite getaway in Suffolk for families with kids or retirees.


There is none of the tacky bingo halls of Southend-On-Sea, no nightspots of Brighton or the sandy beaches at Isle of Wight. Aldeburgh also boosts a high street a whole lot larger than Whitstable. While I wouldn't go so far to say that Aldeburgh doesn't have anything to offer to anyone between twenties and thirties, I couldn't help but noticed there were mainly retirees strolling along the shingled beach and families with young children thronging its High Street.

What to do in Aldeburgh

I have to say that one a good day, the main outdoor attraction would have to be the water pond that is just beside the old timbered Moot Hall. You can't miss it; it's probably the spot in Aldeburgh with the highest density of children under ten years of age during the weekends.


Every weekend, children would bring out their 'ready to sail' wooden boats and gently nudge them into the confines of the pool. These boats that come with sails and a metallic counterbalance at the bottom would then sail across the pond thanks to the strong breezes, which Aldeburgh is not short of. In case you are wondering where to get these boats, they are sold at the first toy store (I can't recall its name) at the northern end Aldeburgh's High Street (intersection of Crabbe Street and High Street). The sizes start from an 8" "Chubby" to a mammoth 21" "Blue water".

I got one for a small boat for the Little One and ended up playing with it by the pond alongside the kids. Anyway, I realised that they can be found on Amazon too.


I've come to realise that sandy beaches are hard to come by in this part of the world. If you don't mind shingled beaches, the one at Aldeburgh is one of the most unspoiled that I have come across, none of the ugly concrete breakwaters. If you walk along the beach towards the north, you'll eventually come across Maggi Hambling's Scallop Shell sculpture. Made of stainless steel, the installation commemorates Benjamin Britten who used to stroll along the stretch.


Then there's Aldeburgh's Moot Hall itself. Built in 1520, it was the town's meeting place for almost 400 years. Apparently, it used to be at the centre of the town when it was first built; it's within a stone's throw to the coastline currently due to constant erosion by the persistent waves. It now houses a small museum that requires a small contribution of a quid for admission. In it are some facts and pictures of the town's illustrious past and the tragedies that befell when the waves came crashing in. It's worth a visit especially when you are looking for a shelter when the weather turns gloomy.

What to eat in Aldeburgh

I'm sorry to disappoint you but there's no oysters shacks here. Save for those that go for two quid a piece at the White Lion Hotel's bar, I have not come across any other places that have them. Regatta, along Aldeburgh High Street seems to be the choice fine dining restaurant in town.


The Lighthouse comes highly recommended by the hotel staff though I must say that it was a bit underwhelming.


If you walk along the High Street, you would notice that almost everyone is holding onto an ice-cream cone. As far as I can see, there's only one ice-cream parlour in town.There's always a line outside Ives Ice-Cream Parlour and Coffee Bar along the High Street (which strangely disappeared when I finally got my camera out). A scoop with cone costs £1.95 (55p extra if you go for the peanut studded cone). I would recommend that you go for its candy floss ice-cream. It does taste like the real thing.


Being just right next to the sea, Aldeburgh has its fair share of fish and chips shops. The most popular joint is no doubt the Golden Galleon along High Street. You can't miss it as it's the other place on the High Street to have a constant line outside it. A small serving of haddock, chips, mash peas with a pinepple fritter (first time I've tried that!) cost just £6. When the sun's out, it's a joy to tuck into some pipping hot fish and chips out at the beach.

How to get to Aldeburgh from London

I don't drive so we had to take the train from Liverpool Street station. The journey from Liverpool Street station to Saxmundham with a switch at Ipswitch takes just under two hours. Advance tickets can be obtained at MyTrainTicket for £16 pp (usual £37.60).

From there, you can either take a bus (around 30min - £2.70 pp) or a cab (A2B Cars - 01728 832202, around 15min - app £15) to Aldeburgh. If in doubt, check with the travel agency staff based at Saxmundham train station. They are extremely helpful when we there.

Have you been to Aldeburgh? How did you find it?

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