The untarnished beauty of the Suffolk coastline

Timothy Barber
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<!--StartFragment--> THE recent episode of The Apprentice in which the contestants struggled to devise an attractive marketing campaign for the Kent seaside town of Margate, was a good demonstration of the jaded reputation many of Britain&rsquo;s coastal resorts have earned. But had they been applying their efforts to the towns lining the Suffolk coast, chief among them Aldeburgh and Southwold, the apprentices might have had an easier job. Of all seaside areas in easy reach of London, Suffolk&rsquo;s historical coastal towns can justifiably lay claim to being the least tarnished.<br /><br />For anyone seeking a second home in easy reach of their London base, Suffolk, occupying the southern section of East Anglia as it bulges into the North Sea, is a winner. The attractive market towns and soft, rolling landscapes that account for much of the county make up some of the most calmly beautiful rural areas in the South East &ndash; and with Ipswich and Bury St Edmonds being the only two major inland towns, there&rsquo;s ample room to roam the countryside in peace.<br /><br /><strong>WEEKEND ESCAPES<br /></strong>But it&rsquo;s in its coastal zones that Suffolk really hits its stride. It&rsquo;s just over a couple of hours to London by car or by train, putting the area happily outside the commuter zone, but within easy distance for weekend escapes.<br /><br />Facing onto the North Sea, the evocative landscape &ndash; much of which is protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty&ndash; is dominated by flat wetlands that stretch up to The Broads in the north of the county &ndash; it&rsquo;s bird-watching paradise. The port towns of Felixtowe and Lowestoft, on the county&rsquo;s southern and northern tips respectively, are not without their charms, but Aldeburgh and Southwold are the real places to be.<br /><br />Attractive and well-to-do places that were favoured and improved by holiday-making Victorians, they managed to resist the temptations of candyfloss, arcades, donkey trekking and unsightly developments that blighted similar towns in the Fifties and Sixties. Thank goodness &ndash; these are seaside towns with real class, and there aren&rsquo;t many of those around.<br /><br /><strong>ALDEBURGH FESTIVAL<br /></strong>Aldeburgh is perhaps most famous for its annual festival of classical music, founded by composer Benjamin Britten in 1948 and due to take place again next month, while it&rsquo;s also a favoured location for those who enjoy their sailing and golf.<br /><br />Southwold, meanwhile, sits in the shadow of its famous lighthouse, with a restored pier, attractive small harbour for yachts and pleasure boats, and stretching sandy beach.<br /><br />For places with such solidly smart and aspirational credentials, the property market in coastal Suffolk has been much less badly affected than most areas of the country, meaning that buying a home there remains a particularly strong investment and worthwhile store of wealth. And as a place to sit back and enjoy the tranquillity of old-fashioned coastal England, Suffolk is a sure thing.<br /><br /><strong>ALDEBURGH<br /></strong>&pound;675,000<br />Four bedroom house in the heart of Aldeburgh&rsquo;s conservation area, looking straight onto the sea.<br />Call Flick &amp; Son on 01728 452469<br /><br /><strong>SOUTHWOLD</strong><br />&pound;1m<br />Substantial Victorian house with six bedrooms, a roof terrace and sea views.<br />Call Savills on 01473 234800<br /><br /><strong>ALDEBURGH</strong><br />&pound;795,000<br />A few minutes walk from both the beach and the highstreet, this six bedroom country house has beautiful interiors and substantial pretty gardens.<br />Call Bedfords on 01728 454 505 <!--EndFragment--> <!--EndFragment-->