Why you should try a dog-friendly stay at wonderful Letheringham Mill
PUBLISHED: 10:51 14 January 2020
2019 SARAH LUCY BROWN
Sarah Lucy Brown and Craig Robinson enjoy a stay at award-winning Letheringham Mill with their enthusiastic cockapoo Dudley
It takes a lot to tire out our beloved pooch. Believe me, we've tried. But most of the time despite our best efforts he remains something of a whirling dervish - a frantic combination of the Duracell bunny after too many espressos and a mini tornado wreaking havoc in our living room.
At the award winning 5* holiday cottages of Letheringham Mill near Framlingham, however, just half an hour from our home in Ipswich, we may have found the perfect answer.
Nestled in the heart of the beautiful Deben Valley, husband and wife Richard and Jacqui Gooding have created a true slice of canine paradise where even the most demanding of doggie divas will be in their element.
Ours certainly didn't waste any time in settling in, jumping straight out of the car as soon as we arrived to greet his fellow lodgers (otherwise known as Bear, Amber, Teddy and Lola) with a warm lick on the nose.
Once the pleasantries were over he was off, closely pursued by his new playmates and, within minutes, quite literally creating a splash as he rather clumsily introduced himself to the unsuspecting wildlife living in the nearby mill pond.
Fortunately the sound of dinner being prepared was enough to tempt him back, but I'm pretty sure he could have been entertained for days in Jacqui and Richard's stunning gardens.
Not that we had anything to worry about. Completely self contained and bordered on one side by the River Deben, there's no fear of your canine companion escaping, meaning they can run around to their heart's content.
It may have just been that we were visiting on one of the hottest days of the year but the beautiful grounds have a distinctly tropical feel and you can tell that a lot of blood, sweat and tears have been invested to make them some of the finest you'll see.
The hard work has certainly paid off. My other half and I spend a lot of time scouring the internet for truly pooch friendly accommodation.
And whereas most places simply seem to tolerate the presence of our four legged friend, Jacqui and Richard actively embraced him.
From the welcome 'doggie box' complete with bed, blankets, towels, bowls and treats through to the exquisite handmade information packs that include everything a dog owner could wish to know - nothing is too much trouble.
That's not to say you have to own a dog to stay here. There were plenty of glowing reviews from people who don't own dogs in the guest book.
But it's easy to see why Visit England has given Letheringham Mill a Gold Award and named it as the best dog friendly business in the country in 2017.
Jacqui and Richard have spared no expense in creating four highly stylish and hugely comfortable self-catering cottages and one beautiful mill house, all benefiting from picture postcard views of the surrounding countryside.
Whether it's the canine themed mugs and plates, fluffy towels, luxurious sheets or the bed you could sleep for days in, the attention to detail is second to none.
Each cottage also benefits from a waterside terrace, giving guests the perfect spot in which to lie back and relax.
If that's not enough, then there are plenty of walks to keep you occupied.
The picturesque village of Easton and its popular White Horse pub is just a short jaunt down the road, while those keen to travel a little further afield can visit the historic market town of Framlingham or the fashionable coastal resorts of Aldeburgh, Thorpeness or Southwold.
We started our stroll from the by turning left from the gated entrance of Letheringham Mill and heading over a bridge, underneath which Dudley decided to take a dip in a small brook.
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From here we made our way along the main road - with Easton Farm Park to our left - and after a short while followed the footpath sign right, loosely matching the course of a winding stream as we crossed the neighbouring field.
After 10 minutes or so we rejoined the road, crossing over and turning right before discovering another footpath that took us in the rough direction of Easton Hall.
Nose down and tail wagging gleefully - no doubt on the hunt for some unsuspecting rabbits - Dudley bounced his way along, only stopping intermittently for a good sniff.
Bearing right, we eventually came to the main road and one of Easton's more unusual features.
The beautiful 'crinkle crankle' or serpentine wall is still thought to be one of the longest of its kind in the UK and, at just one brick deep, is a wonderful example of traditional craftsmanship, its design believed to have been brought to East Anglia by Dutch engineers who drained the fens.
From here you can turn left and extend the walk further. But, with tummies rumbling, we were happy to follow the wall into the heart of the village and seek out the Easton White Horse for a bite to eat and some much needed liquid refreshment.
Once fed and watered (for those with a sweet tooth I'd certainly recommend the mint choc chip baked Alaska) we completed the walk by doubling back on ourselves along the main road, past the village hall to a footpath beside the Easton Harriers' kennels.
Keeping Dudley firmly on his lead because of sheep in the neighbouring field we were treated to an extremely pretty final stretch over a series of narrow foot bridges.
Emerging the other side we were now back where we started, turning left to take us toward the car and Letheringham Mill.
The walk took us around an hour (without the visit to the pub), yet there were more than enough changes of scenery to hold the interest of even the most easily distracted of canine companions.
If, like our pooch, your four-legged friend enjoys spending time in water there are plenty of places for them to cool down with a swim.
If you haven't done so already Letheringham Mill is certainly worth a visit.
For us the end of the stay came far too soon and we were sad to say goodbye - although I have a feeling it won't be too long before we visit again.
Need to know
Distance/time: Approx three miles, one hour
Terrain: Easy. Mainly flat field paths with short stretches on minor roads.
Local vet: Saxon Vets, High Street, Wickham Market IP130HE. T: 01728 747427S
Ts&Ps: The Easton White Horse
At the time of going to press Letheringham Mill was awaiting the final judging of The iPaper #StaycationAwards in the Dog Friendly Accommodation of the Year category. The winners were due to be announced by TV presenter Matt Baker at an awards dinner in London.
The awards recognise the growing demand for top-class holidays in the UK and to celebrate the country's favourite holiday spots.
Visit their website through this link