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Discover the Broads' Best kept secret

Discover 3 hidden gems in the Waveney Valley

The Waveney Valley has much to offer if you’re looking into UK holidays. River cruises, nature walks, charming market towns and traditional country pubs are dotted along the vale which runs along the border between Norfolk and Suffolk.

Tourist centres like Bungay and Beccles attract lots of visitors and are always top of the lists of things to do in Norfolk. They’re certainly well worth a visit, but if you’re looking for something a little quieter, here are three spots you might like to check out which are a little further off the beaten track.

Downes farm lane Wortwell Suffolk
Downs Farm Lane in Wortwell Suffolk by John D Fielding licensed under Creative Commons 4.0

Ringsfield

Lying some two miles south-west of Beccles, the quiet village of Ringsfield has an interesting history. In the graveyard of the village’s All Saints Church lies the tomb of Princess Caroline Murat, great-niece of Napoleon Bonaparte and granddaughter of the King of Naples.

The American-born princess lived and died at Ringsfield Hall following her marriage to second husband John Lewis Gordon who built the house in 1823. Princess Caroline had previously been married to French diplomat Charles de Chassiron.

The Victorian building lies in 400 acres of attractive parkland and today houses an eco-activity centre and doubles as a wedding venue.

Take a ramble through rolling countryside around the village before a visit to the Ringsfield Arms whose speciality is wild-boar hog roasts reared in the local farm.

Castle Hill and Darrow Wood

Hidden deep within the thicket of trees in Darrow Wood sits a little-known National Trust property. Denton Castle is one of only a handful of well preserved small motte and bailey castles left in Norfolk. There are a number of earthworks dotted within the lightly wooded pasture field.

Motte and bailey castles were constructed by the Normans and consisted of a wooden or stone keep atop raised earthwork. Though little is known about the origins of the earthworks at Darrow Wood, their small scale would suggest the dwellings were only inhabited for a short time and by a minor lord.

Covehithe

Lying a 20-minute drive from Beccles, Covehithe is a stunning hamlet located on the Suffolk coast. In the Middle Ages, Covehithe would have been a thriving small town and archaeological digs have also unearthed evidence that the area was inhabited by the Romans with what appears to be a section of Roman Road discovered.

Covehithe suffers from the highest rate of coastal erosion in the UK and the beach is said to be one of Suffolk’s best-kept secrets. Accessible only by footpath, the sandy shore is an idyllic retreat and is popular with those seeking a quiet paddle. 

Make the most of Covehithe before the sea swallows it up altogether with a walk along the coastal path to take in the stunning views out to sea.