Explore the Waveney Valley
Characterised by its meandering river, rolling countryside and wide skies, and with acres of natural habitat, the peaceful and picturesque landscape presents a wonderful opportunity for sightseeing, walking, cycling, canoeing and many other leisure activities.
Steeped in heritage, ancient buildings, and with lively markets still at the heart of the community, each of the Waveney Valley's market towns has its own unique character.
Diss makes the perfect gateway to the Waveney Valley and is host to one of the deepest natural inland lakes in the country, known locally as the Mere. The history of this lovely market town can be traced back to the Domesday Book.
The town has an eclectic selection of medieval, Georgian and Victorian buildings, whilst the Mere Park offers the perfect place to relax.
For a distinctive shopping experience, why not visit Diss Auction House or farmers' market? The Cornhall offers a diverse cultural mix. For an insightful view into the town's history visit Diss Museum.
Visitors can also while away an afternoon browsing the independent shops in the ancient town of Harleston. Old coaching inns, like the Swan Hotel, remain as a legacy from the days when Harleston was on the main coaching route from London to Great Yarmouth and the town was an important trading centre. You can visit many of Harleston's distinctive historic buildings by walking the town's Discovery Trail.
Local traders have always been an important part of community life. Wednesday has been market day in Harleston since 1259, when the town was granted charter status. Harleston remains a vibrant, bustling market town and has been voted Norfolk's town of the year due to its excellent array of individual speciality shops and eating places. You can find out more about Harleston's illustrious history at Harleston Museum.
At the western end of the Valley, between Bressingham and South Lopham, is the stunning Redgrave and Lopham Fen National Nature Reserve. The largest remaining river valley fen in Europe, Redgrave and Lopham Fen is an internationally protected nature reserve. The reserve has a range of distinct habitats including the internationally important saw sedge beds and purple-moor grasslands. Many more waterfowl are using the open water, and marsh harrier are regulars on the reserve. With tracks and guided walks from the visitor centre, the reserve can be visited throughout the year.
Moving toward the coast, six miles north-east of Beccles is Burgh St Peter. Surrounded by the River Waveney and marsh lands to the south and east, the village has a rich history. Built on a staithe, the trading wherries would load and unload their goods, and a ferry took passengers across the river to walk or cycle to Lowestoft fish market. Today, this foot ferry service has been revived by the Waveney River Centre, providing direct access to the Carlton Marshes nature reserve. Afloat or ashore, if you enjoy being close to the water then the award-winning Waveney River Centre is a must.
For more information on the Waveney Valley.