Visit Harleston

Things to Do and See

Harleston is an ideal centre from which to explore the beautiful Waveney Valley, an area of great beauty and tranquility and an unspoilt haven for wildlife. There is plenty here to inspire artists, photographers, walkers and cyclists. With a diversity of artists, writers, actors and musicians living in the area, Harleston has a vibrant arts community.  Being centrally located, all these attractions are either in the immediate vicinity, or within a 45 minute drive from the town centre.

Discover the History and Heritage of the town and surrounding area, get close to exotic Animals and Wildlife in renowned zoos and santuaries, enjoy a scenic local Walk, visit some nearby Breweries and Vineyards or just relax and enjoy the local Leisure facilities. These are just some of the many things to do and see, when you are in Harleston.

[ History and Heritage ]

Harleston Museum

The Museum displays artefacts relating to the life and times of the people of Harleston and the immediate surrounding parishes from pre-historic times to the present day. Items on display illustrate; personal and domestic life, working life, costume, recreation, enterainment and the built environment of the town.

Run by the Harleston and District Historial Society this compact museum is staffed by local volunteers. Opening times are Wednesday 10.00 - 12.00 and 14.00 - 16.00 and Saturday 10.00 - 12.00 from May until September. There is no entry fee, but donations are appreciated.

Tel: 01379 854423
Address: Next to King George's Hall, Broad Street, Harleston. IP20 9AZ

100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum

Housed in the original airfield control tower and other atmospheric buildings 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum is a moving testament to the Americans who came to Thorpe Abbotts in Norfolk to fight alongside the allies during World War Two.

Opening times are: 1 March to 31 October, weekends and bank holidays, 10:00 - 17:00.  Also Wednesdays, May to September. Last admission is at 16:00.

Tel: 01379 740708
Address: Common Road, Dickleburgh, Norfolk IP21 4PH

Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum

The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum is a museum collection of aircraft and aviation-related artefacts, located near the former RAF Bungay airfield. Formed in 1972 by local enthusiasts, there are over 60 aircraft, and more then 30,000 smaller artefacts displayed in large hangars and themed buildings on its eight acre site. The collection aims to promote preserve and promote history of aviation history in East Anglia.

Beyond the hangars is the Adair Walk, which offers a peaceful stroll along a raised boardwalk to the River Waveney. Winding through a Willow plantation, it stretches for around 350 yards long and is of wheel-chair width, with passing points; there is a seat on the staging overlooking the river bank.

There is no admission charge, but donations are encouraged. There is a shop and a NAAFI selling light refreshments.

Opening times are: November to March: Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday 10.00 - 16.00, and April to October: Sunday to Thursday 10.00 - 17.00. Dogs are permitted when on leads.

Tel: 01986 896644
Address: The Street, Flixton, Nr. Bungay, Suffolk, NR35 1NZ

Round Tower Churches

Round tower churches are a Saxon and Norman cultural legacy, and feature round, rather than square, towers.  There are about 185 surviving examples in England, of which 162 are in Norfolk and Suffolk. The reason for the design is shrouded in mystery, but is thought to be due to the smaller Flint stone found in East Anglia being more easily fashioned into round towers, rather than making corners. There are some churches within a few miles of Harleston at Rushall, Needham, Syleham, Thorpe Abbotts and Weybread.  A full list of all churches, and more information, can be found at the Round Tower Churches Society website.

Homersfield Bridge

Homersfield Bridge was built in 1869 across the River Waveney between Norfolk and Suffolk, and stands partly in the civil parishes of Alburgh and Wortwell, Norfolk and partly in Homersfield, Suffolk. It is a very early example of the use of concrete and the oldest remaining concrete bridge in Britain. This grage II* listed bridge was an early experiment in combining iron with concrete for bridges design and predates the emergence of true reinforced concrete at the end of the 19th century.

It has a single 50 foot (15 metres) span consisting of a wrought iron frame encased in concrete and a cast iron balustrades. In the 1990s the bridge was restored by Norfolk Historic Building Trust and Suffolk Preservation Society after it had been compulsorily purchased by Norfolk County Council. Closed to road traffic, Homersfield Bridge is now a foot and cycle path.

Billingford Mill

A five storey brick tower mill, built in 1860, with a boat shaped cap winded by a fantail. It has four double Patent sails carried on a cast iron windshaft. The two pairs of millstones are overdrift. A third pair is housed on a hurst frame on the ground floor of the mill and can be driven by engine. At present the mill is without cap and sails while repairs are under way, but it can still be visited.

The mill is open on certain Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, check the website for details. It can also be opened by arrangement with the Mill Custodians using listed number

Tel: 01379 853967
Address: Billingford; A143 between Harleston and Diss

Eye Castle

Eye Castle is one of the few surviving motte-and-bailey castles from the early Norman period. Built shortly after the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the castle was sacked and largely destroyed in 1265 but was probably used as a defensive site for many centuries before that. Now, rather than dominating the surrounding area with military might, the castle offers a tranquil, fun and interesting place to visit

Address: 35 Castle St, Eye, IP23 7AW

Earsham Hall

Earsham Hall is one of the finest country mansion houses in Norfolk. It has a rich and varied history dating back in part to the 15th century, with later additions, and then a brick facade so that it looked more in keeping with its different parts. A series of guided walks operate throughout the year ending with tea being served in the Hall itself.

Historical Tour

A two hour guided tour and a visit to the Showrooms before Afternoon Tea being served in the Tearooms.

Home Tour

This is for those people who have been on a Historical Tour of Earsham Hall already, but would like to see more and has been created due to popular demand. Find out more about what it is like to live at Earsham Hall day to day, how history and modern living mix and just what it means to live in a house which has such a fascinating past…and present.  Tour concludes in the family kitchen where Tea and Cake will be served.

Tel: 01986 893868
Address: Earsham Hall, Near Bungay, NR35 2AN

Castle Hill and Darrow Wood

This one for the archeologists. Darrow Wood is now a small, hedge-enclosed, lightly wooded pasture field. Hidden in the clumps of trees are a number of earthworks including the remains of one of the few well preserved small motte and bailey castles in Norfolk. They have been known for over a century yet who built them and when or why they were constructed remains a mystery

The site is located near to Darrow Green Road on the West side of the parish. The nearest postcode is IP20 0AY. The easiest approach is via the public footpath leading due East from Darrow Green Road near to Darrow Green Farm. Please note that roadside parking is very limited.

Address: Darrow Green Road, Denton

[ Animals and Wildlife ]

Africa Alive

Africa Alive is an African themed park with over 80 species of African wildlife, set in 100 acres of stunning Suffolk countryside.  The spectacular centrepiece of this beautiful park is the ’Plains of Africa’, the perfect place to spot five species of African savannah animals, including graceful giraffe and heavyweight rhinos.  Enjoy a bird’s eye view of magnificent lions from the viewing point ‘Lookout Lodge’ and visit ‘Lemur Encounters’, which offers you the chance to get right in with the action – as you walk-through the lemurs’ enclosure!  The park is also home to some other amazing primates including bushbabies, king colobus monkeys, drill and the rare golden-bellied mangabeys.

Tel: 01502 740291
Address: Africa Alive! White’s Lane, Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 7TF

Banham Zoo

Banham Zoo is an award winning family attraction and one of the most exciting wildlife attractions in the country, with over 2,000 animals from around the world and set in 50 acres of beautiful parkland and gardens.

Tel: 01953 887771
Address: Banham Zoo, Kenninghall Road, Banham, Norfolk NR16 2HE

Oasis Camel Park

The Camel Park is almost certainly the only place in Great Britain where you can touch and see the camel and their relatives close-up.  If you like animals that are friendly and have been brought up like pets then the Camel Park is the place for you.

And its not just types of camels and their relations the Llamas, alpacas and guancos, you can also see many more other animals including donkeys, wallabies, mara, goats, sheep, horses and pony, rheas, meerkats, fallow deer, rabbits, guinea pigs, kune kune pigs, poultry and cage birds.

Tel: 07836 734748
Address: The Camel Park Oasis, Orchard Farm, Linstead, Halesworth, Suffolk. IP19 0DT

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary

The Suffolk Owl Sanctuary operates a comprehensive facility for the care and rehabilitation of owls from the region, and the promotion of owl conservation throughout the UK and beyond.

Flying demonstrations and talks take place throughout the day from April to September, providing a delightful place to visit to watch, study or simply enjoy the company of Owls and other birds of prey. There are over 80 raptors at the Centre, all housed in spacious aviaries and flying free in narrated flying displays or demonstrations.

You will also find Red Squirrels, the Raptor Hospital, The Barclays Sensory Garden, an information centre about Owls, a woodland walk with bird hide, picnic areas and plenty of activities for children including a mini-maze, adventure frame, chipmunks, the MeerKat Kastle

Tel: 03456 807 897
Address: Stonham Barns, Pettaugh Road ,Stonham Aspal. IP14 6AT

Redwings Horse Sanctuary

Redwings rescue abandoned, mistreated and neglected horses and donkeys from across the UK, giving them a safe place to live and providing essential veterinary treatment, rehabilitation and lifelong care. Redwings Caldecott is our largest visitor centre and currently home to almost 120 horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.

Tel: 0870 040 0033
Address: Caldecott Hall, Beccles Rd, Fritton, Great Yarmouth NR31 9EY

Trelawn Alpacas

A small and perfectly formed herd of nine alpacas that live in the wonderful surrounds of the South Norfolk countryside, a lovely permanent home and sanctuary for the family of fleeced creatures.  This small herd are very sociable and they love to have visitors, especially if there is an apple or carrot on offer.

Tel: 01379 776101
Address: Trelawn Lodge, Harleston Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP21 4RZ

[ Walks ]

Harleston Walks

There are a series of guided walking tours around the town throughout the summer, normally on the second and fourth Saturday of the month. There will usually be one general walk 'Harleston Highlights' covering the history of the town through it's buildings and local stories, and one special walk with emphasis on a particular subject. There is also a self guided walking tour around the town which which can be downloaded or listened to through a smart phone or tablet. Click here for more details of all of the walking tours available.

Short Walks to Nearby Villages

The full booklet from the Norfolk County Council contains many walks, there are three based in Harleston. Take a short walk to the surrounding villages and build up a thirst and an appetite.

Starston: 2.8 miles: Quiet rural walk out of the town; at one point no houses or roads are visible, just fields, hedges and lots of sky!

Lushbush: 3.2 miles: This farmland walk is particularly enjoyable during the drier summer months.

Redenhall: 4.0 miles: Another pleasant hilly walk with fine views over the Waveney Valley.

Angles Way

The Angles Way is a long distance walking trail running close to the River Waveney and River Little Ouse following to the county boundary between Norfolk and Suffolk between Great Yarmouth and Thetford. There are a selection of circular, short and long walks available on Angles Way which start in Harleston. There is something for everyone, whether you want to exercise the dog or simply fancy a stroll through beautiful countryside before relaxing in a welcoming pub with a drink and a bite to eat.

Harleston circular walk: 6.5 miles, 2.5 hours.  This walk starts in Harleston, taking in some stunning countryside, visiting the village of Redenhall with its impressive church and follows the Angles Way back into Harleston.

Harleston to Homersfield: 4 miles, 2 hours.  This route travels through the claylands of Norfolk and Suffolk along the valley of the River Waveney. The landscape is predominantly farmland with large arable fields on the upper levels and grazing marsh in the river valleys. 

Harleston to Brockdish: 4 miles, 2 hours. This stretch of Angles Way crosses the River Waveney twice. Now a considerably smaller river than it was at the eastern section, the lush grazing meadows beside the river and diverse aquatic flora and fauna in the river has given some sections of the river County Wildlife Site status.

Harleston to Earsham: 10 miles, 3.5 hours.  Ramble through an undulating landscape of peaceful country roads, footpaths and farm tracks. Enjoy panoramic views in Homersfield from the high ground above a large area of open water, known as Flixton Pits.

Harleston to Diss: 13.5 miles, 4.5 hours.  Enjoy a walk between the historic towns of Harleston and Diss, sometimes closely following the meandering River Waveney, sometimes leaving it to enjoy the fabulous views from higher ground over the Waveney Valley.

For more information and maps visit the Norfolk County Council website.

Discover Suffolk

Suffolk inspires everyone, from George Orwell who adopted the name of one of our rivers, to bird watchers and nature lovers who come to see the unique landscapes. Exploring Suffolk's coastal villages, the Brecks, ancient woodlands and the glorious countryside will enthrall and delight you.  The dry climate and low-lying landscape makes Suffolk a great place for walkers of all abilities and ages. Whether you're an adventurous walker or someone who prefers a short stroll, there is a walk to suit you.  Each of the walking leaflets have a map and a detailed description of the route. Many include advice on travel, where to park, points of interest and places to eat. The walks range from a one mile short stroll to the more challenging 18 mile routes.

Look for the nearby walks of: Easham, Eye Airflield and Treasured Suffolk - Hoxne.

[ Leisure ]


The Harleston, Wortwell and District Angling Club owns and manages 6 well stocked fishing lakes in the Waveney Valley on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, together with some stretches of the River Waveney itself. The lakes - also known as Weybread Pits - offer some of the best fishing around for both beginners and highly experienced anglers who are looking for a challenge.

Cycling in Suffolk

Riding at your own pace there is no better way to experience the real beauty and diversity of Suffolk than cycling. Cycling is not only healthy for you and good for the environment, it is an excellent form of aerobic exercise.

[ Breweries and Vineyards ]

Grain Brewery

Grain Brewery was born in 2006 from a desire for a fresh start, a distaste for the corporate life, and a love of good beer. Housed in an old dairy and barns at South Farm, in the Waveney Valley, a few miles from Alburgh (pronounced Arrbraa), it is in the heart of Britain’s best barley growing land. Grain are proud producers of a wide range of national award winning beers in both keg and cask.

Grain have four pubs within the East Anglia area, the nearest being in the Corn Hall in Diss, but why not pop along to the source of the nectar at one of the regular open days, usually held on the the last Saturday of the month from March to December. Check the website for dates.

Tel: 01986 788884
Address: South Farm, Alburgh, Harleston, Norfolk, IP20 0BS

Harleston Cider

Harleston Cider Co. are a family of cider makers based in the Waveney Valley, on the border with Norfolk and Suffolk. Ken, the Master Cider Maker, began making cider in 2010 when he noticed apples were going to waste in neighbour's gardens. Seven years later a burgeoning interest in putting wasted apples to good use has grown into a family-driven cider making team.

It's been a fun journey and lots has evolved along the way but Ken has remained steadfast to his principle of using local produce.  Apples are now mainly sourced from surrounding East Anglian orchards but the team still enjoy taking donations from generous neighbours. Since half the team live in Newcastle they like to throw in the odd Geordie apple too!

Harleston Cider have won a few CAMRA awards along the way and have recently branched out into vinegar and cider-infused seasonings. In the winter-time things are spiced up with mulled cider at fairs and events.

Harleston Cider is sold in local pubs within the East Anglia area, the nearest being in the Old Kings Head in Brockdish, There are also outlets to buy bottles to drink at home, but why not pop along to the source of the ambrosia at one of the montly open days. Check the website for dates

Address: Harleston Cider Co. Forge Business Centre (Unit 12) Upper Rose Lane Palgrave IP22 1AP

St Peter's Brewery

St. Peter’s Brewery is based at St. Peter South Elmham, near Bungay in Suffolk. The brewery itself was built in 1996 and is housed in an attractive range of traditional former agricultural buildings adjacent to St. Peter's Hall.

Siting the brewery at St. Peter's was ideal because of the excellent water quality from it's own deep bore-hole. Locally malted barley is used, together with Kentish hops, to produce a range of classical English cask-conditioned ales. In addition the company produces a range of superb bottled beers.

St Peter's brew 'traditional' beers (bitters, mild etc.) as well as some more unusual beers such as honey porter and fruit beer. Replicating what was common practice up to the Nineteenth Century to add fruits and honey to beers to create special seasonal brews.

Thus blackcurrant and gooseberry beers would be brewed when soft fruits were readily available while at Christmas-time dried fruits, spices and orange peel would be added to create a special Christmas Ale.

Tel: 01986 782322
Address: St Peter's Hall, St Peter, South Elmham, Suffolk, NR35 1NQ

Flint Vineyard

Ben and Hannah Witchell established Flint Vineyard in 2016. Ben has spent the last six years studying oenology (the science of wine) and has gained hands-on experience at some of the best wineries in France and California. Hannah has lived and worked on vineyards around the world. Together with Ben, she defines the vision for Flint and looks after the marketing and sales operation.

In 2016 three hectares of vines were planted, to create a state of the art winery and processed 11 tonnes of grapes to make the first wines. The winery is open for tours and tastings throughout the year. Check the website for more details.

Tel: 01986 893209
Address: Flint Vineyard, Middle Road, Earsham, Bungay

Valley Farm Vineyard

Valley Farm Vineyards is set in an idyllic corner of Suffolk where mature vines produce quality grapes.  You can take the self-guided tour - map and notes available; but call beforehand to check opening times and avoid disappointment.  Afterwards enjoy a chat and a tasting - the 2015 View East will be chilled and ready for you. 

If you are a group of 6 or more call to arrange a private tutored tour and tasting session.  The tour typically takes an hour, is 1.5 km and is followed up by a tasting session of two wines.  

If you are looking to join a public tutored tour these will be running on the first Saturday of the month from January - October, subject to sufficient numbers.

Address: Valley Farm, Wissett, Halesworth, Suffolk, IP19 0JJ



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