The Suffolk Coast and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a low-lying coastal landscape of astonishing variety, stretching from the Stour estuary in the South to Kessingland in the North, and covering 403 square kilometres.
Its unique mixture of shingle beaches, crumbling cliffs, marshes, estuaries, heathland, forests and farmland makes the AONB a very special place to live, work and visit.
A source of inspiration to countless artists, writers and musicians, the AONB is a landscape rich in history and largely spared from modern development. Its picturesque countryside, towns and villages have an unspoilt and tranquil atmosphere, with a very distinctive ‘Suffolk’ character. Visitor activity to the AONB is centred around the medieval market town of Aldeburgh and other coastal towns and hamlets such as Southwold and Walberswick.
The AONB is also one of the most important wildlife areas in Britain, encompassing three National Nature Reserves, many Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the RSPB’s Minsmere Reserve. The mud-flats and creeks of the AONB’s estuaries contain wildlife wetland sites of national and international importance, whilst the wild, sandy stretches of ancient open heathland such as the Sandlings are a refuge for nightjar, woodlark, and rare heath butterflies.
Visitor activity is centred around Aldeburgh with its major summer arts festival and in small towns and coastal hamlets such as Southwold and Walberswick. The booming popularity of watersports has brought considerable leisure usage to the Stour, Deben, Blyth, Ore and Alde estuaries.