Things to do in Beccles
In the heart of the Waveney Valley, Beccles is a historic market town that is still thriving today! No matter what pace you’re looking for there is plenty on offer both in the town centre and on the outskirts. Read on for some ideas of things to do in Beccles.
Shops and markets
With a great selection of well-known retail chains alongside a high percentage of individual independent shops, Beccles has something to appeal to everyone. There is a diverse choice of places to eat and drink as well, also ranging from independents to national chains. Regular community events such as an annual Food and Drink Festival, Autumn Beccles Beer Festival, the Beccles Carnival, Duck Race and Antique Street Markets provide some extra variety. To check the upcoming events or lists of eateries and shops have a look at Visit Beccles.
History and culture
Founded in 1976, the Beccles and District Museum has a collection of some 10,500 objects. While many of its collection are on permanent display, the museum also displays four temporary exhibitions each year. The Museum is open April to October, to check their opening hours please visit the Beccles Museum website.
Among buildings of architectural interest is the building that houses the museum, but perhaps even more interesting is St Michael’s Church which hosted the wedding of the great naval hero Lord Nelson’s parents! Taking 40 years to build, the Church’s Bell Tower was constructed in 1515 and is 97ft tall. On a clear day you can see up to 20 miles from the roof and it is open to visitors with guided tours regularly from Easter to late September, but be prepared for the 122 steps! Call 01502 712109 to check opening times.
For art, film, music and theatre there is Beccles Public Hall & Theatre. The hall has a long history stretching back to 1785, when the Corporation of Beccles Fen thought an Assembly Room and Playhouse would help encourage people of independent means move into the town. With a wide range of offerings there’s always something to see. To check the calendar and buy tickets take a look at the Beccles Public Hall & Theatre’s website.
A few miles outside of Beccles towards Lowestoft, you can find the East Anglia Transport Museum which is open from April until October. Founded in 1965, the museum has one of the widest ranges of preserved vehicles of any museum. With the opportunity to ride on a number of different vehicles from the light railway, a vintage tram, and a trolleybus the museum provides a real living experience of the development of mechanical transport. Dog friendly, hosting their own Terminus Tearooms providing light refreshments and a shop to find a souvenir or book to remember your visit, the museum has it all for a memorable day out. To find out more visit the East Anglia Transport Museum’s website.
Walking trails, swimming and boating
Given to the people of Beccles by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1584, the Beccles Marsh has three walks of varying lengths to choose from. Beccles Town Council owns the marsh and manages it along with help from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Colourful wild flowers fringe the dykes, which would have been dug by hand, and waters of the dykes also contain a delightful variety of insects and rare plants. A downloadable map can be found on the Visit Beccles website.
Beccles Lido is a traditional open-air swimming pool with a 30 x 15m main pool and separate toddler and paddling pools, all heated to 27 °C. There are also lots of sunbathing areas, both grassy and paved, sun loungers, picnic tables, tables and chairs and a kiddie’s adventure play area. The onsite café serves snacks, ice cream, drinks and both hot and cold meals. Closed over the winter, Beccles Lido is open from the end of May until early September. For prices and opening times please check the Beccles Lido website.
If you fancy a trip on the water, the Big Dog Ferry operates from the Beccles Lido and will take you the 3 miles along the River Waveney from Beccles to the Locks Inn, Geldeston. There’s plenty of wildlife that may be seen on route including kingfishers and otters. You may remain on board for a round trip, or disembark in Geldeston and either catch another trip back later or walk back along some delightful footpaths. Open from April to October visit the Big Dog Ferry’s website for prices and times.
Canoe hire is also possible from Beccles Lido, in association with The Canoe Man and follows the same route to the Locks Inn, Geldeston. Advanced booking is essential and can be done on The Canoe Man’s website.
If you’d prefer self-hire and/or the broads then Waveney River Tours are worth checking out. The purpose-built Waveney Princess departs from Oulton Broad and offers a selection of different tours departing from Oulton Broad. Panoramic views can be enjoyed from the open top deck. There are toilets onboard along with a fully licensed bar and teashop on the lower deck. If you’d rather do your own thing, there are self-drive boats available for hire either by the hour or day. To find out more visit Waveney River Tours’ website.
Activities and Adventures
Providing both adult and junior karting, for children 8 years and older, Ellough Park Raceway makes for a great day out! The only British Championship circuit in East Anglia, the circuit has been designed by racing drivers and is floodlit enabling them to operate seven days a week year round – even in the darker winter months. Adults and children can do timed sessions together (in separate karts) on track ‘arrive and drive’ sessions, and there are spectator viewing areas for those who would rather watch. For more information checkout the Ellough Park Raceway’s website.
For the extreme in adventure check out Skydiving with UK Parachuting! Open seven days a week year round (weather permitting of course), they provide two different types of experiences from 13,000 feet - Tandem Skydive and the Accelerated Free Fall program. The team has a fantastic reputation and over 30 years of experience. If you’re looking to do some good as well as get an adrenaline rush, UK Parachuting regularly run charity events or through their work with over 200 sponsored charities you can raise money for charity outside of an organised event too. Check out UK Parachuting’s website for more details.
With so many different things to do, you should never find yourself asking what to do in Beccles!