Thorpeness in Suffolk: The Peter Pan Themed UK Family Beach Holiday
If the idea of transporting your family back in time to play Swallows and Amazons in Peter Pan’s Neverland sounds like fun, then Thorpeness in Suffolk should be your next UK summer holiday destination.
This little gem of a seaside village in Suffolk was built in 1912 as a holiday resort and has hardly changed in 100 years. It’s the perfect place to spend your holidays with kids whether you’re looking to base yourself there for a week or two or just visit for the day.
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Where is Thorpeness?
Thorpeness is a small village just north of Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast and can be reached in just a little over 2 hours from London by car. It’s a purpose-built holiday resort that was built in 1912 and today it is still mostly holiday homes.
It’s the perfect place to base yourself because it’s close to the other family-friendly coastal towns and villages in Suffolk like Aldeburgh, Southwold, Dunwich and Walberswick.
Map of Thorpeness
History of Thorpeness
Thorpeness is the result of a dream by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie, a wealthy Scottish barrister whose money came from building railways around the world. He bought the land and set about building this holiday village in 1912 using Jacobean and Tudor styles.
When it came to the Meare, he was inspired by a family friend and author of Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, and built islands based on the Neverland theme complete with castles, crocodiles and wendy houses.
Things to do in Thorpeness
Go Boating on the Meare
Thorpeness Boating Lake is probably the main reason people come to Thorpeness and it’s one of the top things we recommend to do in Suffolk with kids. It is a children’s paradise based around J.M. Barrie’s novel, Peter Pan. The Meare covers over 60 acres and includes islands with castles and wendy houses. Each island has a mooring spot so you can get out and explore.
For the kids, it is fabulous fun. For the adults, it’s a great bit of exercise and if you row close to the east side of the lake, you’ll spot some of the beautiful holiday homes that line the lakeshore. Thorpeness boat hire is open from Spring until the end of summer and is the perfect sunny day activity for the family.
**Note – The Meare is around 50 cm deep but you should note that they do not provide life jackets with the boat rentals**
Thorpeness Meare Boat Hire Prices
The boat hire prices have not been released yet for 2020, but you can check on the site for last years’ costs which will give you a good idea. In summary, you can take the boats out for as little as 30 minutes to 4 hours. There are different sized rowing boats, sailing boats and kayaks. Some of the boats in service are the original boats from almost 100 years ago.
1/2 hour 1 hour 3 hours
1 person £9 £13 £18
2 people £12 £17 £22
Thorpeness Beach is like many of the Suffolk beaches in that it is a predominantly shingle beach. Whilst you may love a sandy beach (and if that’s the case, we recommend checking out the beaches in North Norfolk where there is sand galore), the kids are sure to love a stony beach.
Our boys love collecting stones of all shapes, sizes and colours. A stony beach does mean that it’s difficult to walk on in bare feet. If you want to go into the water, you might want to consider bringing water shoes with you.
Walk to Aldeburgh
If you have time for a walk, there is a walking path along the coast connecting Thorpeness to Aldeburgh. It’s just a little over 2 miles long and about three-quarters of the way along the Thorpeness to Aldeburgh walk, you’ll pass The Scallop.
This 4-metre tall iconic steel sculpture by local artist Maggie Hambling was installed in 2003 and is a tribute to composer Benjamin Britten who spent much of his life in and around Aldeburgh.
It catches the light at different times of the day and is simply stunning when it reflects the colours of the setting sun.
There are lots of great things to do in Aldeburgh.
The House in the Clouds Thorpeness
The Thorpeness House in the Clouds has to be one of the quirkiest houses in the country and is one of the most iconic sights in Suffolk. It was originally built in 19 as a means to disguise a water tower that looked hideously out of place in the idyllic holiday village.
Nowadays it’s a 5-bedroom self-catering holiday rental. We have never been inside but can only imagine that at 5 stories up, the views from the top are incredible.
If you happen to be in Thorpeness during August (usually mid-August), then chances are you’ll be there for the Thorpeness Regatta. The parade of decorated boats goes out at dusk (around 8.90 pm) on the Thorpeness Meare and is followed by spectacular fireworks. It also tends to coincide with the Aldeburgh Carnival which is worth seeing too.
Play Boules at the Dolphin Inn
If you’re stopping by the Dolphin Inn for lunch or just a drink, you could spend some time playing boules. There are 2 boules courts. It’s a lovely activity with the kids and great to keep them entertained while you’re waiting for your food.
Visit the Local Shop or the Tea Room for an Ice Cream
A summer holiday in the UK is not complete without indulging in an ice cream or two. The best places to get ice cream are in the little village store (where they pretty much just have ice cream, postcards and some essential buckets and spades) or the Tea Room by the Meare.
The Meare Tea Room has an enormous selection of ice cream including Mr Whippy and the most enormous selection of fabulous and unusual sweets which (be warned) are right next to the till and will be noticed by little ones!
Places to Eat and Drink in Thorpeness
The Dolphin Thorpeness – (the only pub in Thorpeness ). The Dolphin Thorpeness menu is small but inviting. It has a fantastic child’s menu which is great value because the dishes are almost as big as the adults but half the price. It’s a great place to eat during the summer months when they have a weekend BBQ and is high up on our list of family-friendly pubs on the Suffolk coast.
The Kitchen Thorpeness – café style serving seasonal and locally sourced breakfast and lunch
Thorpeness Golf Club and Hotel – Tee View or Braid’s Bar offer formal and informal dining for lunch, dinner or afternoon tea using the best of Suffolk ingredients
The Thorpeness Meare Shop Tea Room – a lovely place for tea and cake or a light lunch by the Meare
There is only one true hotel. If you have trouble finding availability here or you’re looking for something a little different, you could take a look at neighbouring Aldeburgh hotels.
Thorpeness Golf Club & Hotel – Home to the very impressive Thorpeness Golf Course. The rooms overlook the course and are great for golfing enthusiasts with the stay & play rate. A large and tasty breakfast is included.
The Dolphin Inn – big comfy rooms with a hearty breakfast using local ingredients
Thorpeness Holiday Cottages
Thorpeness House in the Clouds – see above, one of the quirkiest places to stay in the country.
Thorpeness Camping & Glamping
There are no campsites in Thorpeness but there are a few in the surrounding area.
Happy Days Retro Vacations – Vintage Airstream Glamping
Beach View Holiday Park – site for touring caravans with some static caravans and glamping pods (5 miles)
Larks & Lanterns – for a luxury glamping experience a little way away (10 miles)
Looking for more things to do in Suffolk? Make sure to check out our complete guide to Suffolk for more great ideas on things to do, where to stay and eat.