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A handful of boats moor on the banks of the River Alde. Visitors to Snape Maltings can take boat rides up the river to birdwatch or simply take in the natural beauty.
A handful of boats moor on the banks of the River Alde. Visitors to Snape Maltings can take boat rides up the river to birdwatch or simply take in the natural beauty. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)
A handful of boats moor on the banks of the River Alde. Visitors to Snape Maltings can take boat rides up the river to birdwatch or simply take in the natural beauty.
A handful of boats moor on the banks of the River Alde. Visitors to Snape Maltings can take boat rides up the river to birdwatch or simply take in the natural beauty. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)
A map of Snape Maltings.
A map of Snape Maltings. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

ALDEBURGH — Somewhere between sophisticated shopping and rural conservation lies Snape Maltings, a unique conglomeration of retail and relaxation set in one of the sleepiest corners of Suffolk.

Part nature preserve, part upscale commercial district, Snape Maltings found a way for visitors to effortlessly package strolling leisurely along a wetlands boardwalk with choosing the perfect specialty marmalades.

Set on the banks of the River Alde along a rural road in the southeast corner of the county, Snape Maltings is also home to a range of riverboat tours and outdoor concerts.

The retail shops are inside brick, mid-19th-century small-warehouse type buildings that are part of the original barley malting facility that closed in the 1950s. It’s rural but hip economic redevelopment with an eye toward the arts and profit.

Nearly a dozen shops are spread about the complex, all within the walking distance one would expect at an outdoor wholesale shopping complex in the United States. Handmade mango and coriander relish goes for 2.50 pounds ($4.38) per 300-gram decorator bottle while hot pear chutney fetches 4.50 pounds ($7.90) for the 340-gram bottle at the Home and Garden Shop.

There are also a book shop, a country store, a furniture shop and an antique store for those wanting to burn through a few pounds. If you’re searching for a truly indigenous shopping experience, visit Snape Maltings on the first Saturday morning of the month when the facility hosts one of Suffolk’s busiest farmer’s markets.

Several scenic footpaths cut through the surrounding area — including one that follows the River Alde to the 1,400-year-old Iken Church. And the management is not averse to allowing dogs off the leash for some unbridled fun.

Snape Maltings also boasts a summer full of concerts at its revamped concert hall. Check the Web site for a full listing of show times.

Getting there ...Snape Maltings is about a 1½-hour drive from the RAF Mildenhall area, first south on the A14 and then merge onto the A12 northbound of Ipswich. From there, take the A1094 to the right and look out for the brown signs directing traffic to Snape Maltings.

For more information, visit: www.snapemaltings.co.uk

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