Visiting Thorpeness Boating Lake: All You Need To Know For 2024

Growing up in Suffolk I spent every summer visiting the Thorpeness boating lake in Thorpeness.

I now take my own kids and it is one of their favourite days out in Suffolk, especially if we combine it with some beach time afterwards.

It is one of the best places to visit in Suffolk especially if you have kids.

Since the official website for Thorpeness Meare is often down, we created this quick guide to visiting the boating lake in Thorpeness to help answer any questions you might have.

If you’re holidaying in Suffolk, you might also like to find out what to do in Norfolk with kids or visit these family-friendly beaches in Norfolk.

Make sure to read to the end for our tips on visiting the visiting the boating lake in Thorpeness as well as accommodation recommendations as Thorpeness is a beautiful place to stay in Suffolk.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and book or buy something, we may earn a small commission but this is at no extra cost to you.

View of Thorpeness Boating Lake on a sunny day.

Here’s what you need to know about Thorpeness boating lake

Where is the boating lake in Thorpeness?

The boating takes place on Thorpeness Meare in Thorpeness. The boating lake is in the centre of this small village in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Suffolk coast.

It is just next door to the more famous Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh which you should also visit.

Thorpeness Meare is a man made lake with a Peter Pan theme, dreamed up by a wealthy Scottish barrister, Stuart Ogilvie, who wanted to create a playground for friends and family.

Today, it is one of the best things to do in Thorpeness.

Kids at a fort on an island at the boating lake in Thorpeness in Suffolk.

When is Thorpeness boating lake open?

In general, the boating lake at Thorpeness is open from the end of March until the October half term.

The Thorpeness Meare opening hours are:

(the 2024 opening hours are yet to be released).

View of the House in the Clouds and Thorpeness windmill from the boating lake in Thorpeness.

What can you rent at the boating lake in Thorpeness?

There are over 100 boats for rent at Thorpeness Meare.

  • small rowing boats / dinghys
  • large rowing boats
  • one person kayaks
  • two person kayaks
  • punts
  • sailing boats

Many of the colourful boats you can hire are the original boats used when the meare was first created and were named by the local workmen.

Colourful boats on a sunny day at the Thorpeness boating lake.

How much is boat rental at the Thorpeness boating lake?

You can see all of the Thorpeness Meare boat rental prices here (if their website is working).

To give you a rough idea, 2023 prices per person were:

  • 1/2 hour – £10.
  • 1 hour – £14.
  • 1 1/2 hours – £16.

Kids being helped into their kayaks at Thorpeness boating lake.

What can I see at Thorpeness boating lake?

Upon setting off, you’ll catch a glimpse of Tick-Tock (the crocodile that ate Captain Hook’s hand).

From there, you are out into the open water and there are several islands that you can visit on Thorpeness Meare.

Here are just a few of the Thorpeness boating lake islands that we love:

  • Wendy’s House
  • Peggoty’s House
  • The Pirate’s Lair
  • Smuggler’s Cave

The meare is also home to ducks, swans, herons, grebes, geese, coots, moorhens and frogs. If you are very lucky you may even spot a kingfisher.

Take a look at this wonderful map from a 1930’s guide book giving you an idea of the fantasy boating lake.

Map of Thorpeness boating lake.

How long can you spend at the Thorpeness boating lake?

The minimum rental period is 30 minutes. In my experience, you won’t get far in 30 minutes especially if you are letting the kids have a go at rowing!

Thorpeness Meare is quite large and there are quite a few islands that you can moor at an explore. If you don’t want to be rushed, you should aim for about 2 hours.

When we were young, our parents would take a picnic out on the boats and we would have lunch on one of the islands.

Is Thorpeness boating lake dog friendly?

Yes, it is dog friendly. They are allowed on the boats but beware. There are lots and lots of very inquisitive swans and dogs might like to jump overboard to get friendly with them!

It is also worth noting that Thorpeness beach is also dog-friendly.

Kids standing in front of Peggoty's House at Thorpeness Meare.

Tips for visiting the Thorpeness boating lake

  • Don’t miss the east side of the meare where you will get lovely views of the House in the Clouds, one of the most unusual houses in the UK. You can rent it on Airbnb.
  • As boating on Thorpeness Meare is an outdoor activity, it is best saved for a sunny day.
  • Just beware if you are getting out on the islands that there can be a lot of swan poo! Crocs or Flip flops are probably the best choice of footwear for boating as they will also get wet.
  • Take a waterproof bag as the floor of the rowing boats can get very wet.
  • There are no life jackets available for hire. The Meare is very shallow (about 100cm at its deepest points) and we have never used them but I feel this should be pointed out.
  • If you happen to be visiting Suffolk in August, take a look at when the Thorpeness Regatta is on. This is a very special event when the meare opens at night and you can take boats out to watch a spectacular fireworks display.
  • There is a fairly large pay and display car park opposite the meare and cars line the small lanes (The Haven and The Whinlands). The summer months are very busy so arrive early.
  • Save some time to visit The Meare Shop & Tearoom for a light bite or a sweet treat before or after your boating session.
  • The Dolphin is a lovely pub with a great pub garden if you’re looking for a pub meal.

Images from a family day out on the Thorpeness boating lake in Suffolk.

Accommodation near the boating lake in Thorpeness

The places we recommend are: