Car-free adventures aroundSudburySuffolk

book trains

Gainsborough and Constable painted the landscapes around this pretty market town, where Thomas Gainsborough was born. The local branch line from Mark's Tey (less than an hour from London) is now the "Gainsborough Line". It's a good way to see the countryside, and gets you to Sudbury in twenty minutes. On the way it crosses the extraordinary 32-arch Chappel viaduct and passes the East Anglian Railway Museum at Chappel station, a trip back in time to a great age of rail travel. See Constable's paintbox and rooms full of paintings and a lovely old garden at Gainsborough's former home in Sudbury and take buses to pretty Suffolk towns and villages, like Long Melford and Clare.

  • County: Suffolk
  • Great for: art | culture | family | historic houses | industrial heritage | Museum | steam train |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
House - Sudbury car-free adventures
  1. 3. Clare by bus

    From Sudbury bus station, there are buses heading deep into the Suffolk countryside. One rewarding route is the 236 to Clare, heading off from the bus station past St Peter’s Church and Gainsborough’s House and out through the colourful, half-timbered cottages characteristic of towns and villages in the area.

    • Sit upstairs if you can for the best views across the Stour valley and Melford Hall. Long Melford village, with its string of pretty pubs and antique shops along the main road, definitely lives up to its name.
    • After rows of pink, green and yellow houses, look out on the right as you leave the village for the National Trust’s Melford Hall, a brick Tudor mansion with fairy tale turrets and a Beatrix Potter connection. Get off opposite the Black Lion, round the corner, to explore it further.
    • The bus goes on along an old Roman Road, looping through Glemsford village to reach Cavendish, full of brightly-painted thatched cottages and wonky-windowed shops. Enjoy it from the bus windows or get off and follow the Stour Valley Path to Clare.
    • The welcoming town of Clare has plenty of pubs and cafes and a ruined castle on a hill in a country park.
    • Next to the churchyard in Clare, the Ancient House is medieval and covered in elaborate plasterwork patterns, known as pargeting, a traditional form of decoration in Suffolk and Essex. There’s a museum inside, open Thursday to Sunday afternoons in the summer.
  • Art tools - Sudbury car-free adventures
  • House - Sudbury car-free adventures