Mid Suffolk is amongst the best places to live in the country, with superb countryside and wonderful towns and villages to explore. The Council own and manage a number of Parks, open spaces and nature reserves which are homes for wildlife and great places for a family outing or a quiet walk.

To find out more please visit the information below.

Needham Lakes

Needham Lake is a 13 hectare popular countryside attraction, centred around a flooded gravel pit, close to Needham Market.

It's been consistently ranked among Visit England's top most-visited free attractions in the UK, and was ranked twelfth during 2020.

Part of the site is a Local Nature Reserve - with wetland areas, meadows and a small woodland. It's home to a variety of wildlife, and in the summer you can find many species of dragonflies and small birds.

Look out for the nest boxes found throughout the site. Wild flowers are plentiful with pyramidal and bee orchids easily seen from the paths.

Visit our Needham Lake Facebook page

How to find us

Access from B1078 Coddenham Road, IP6 8NU

OS Grid ref: TM 093547 (Explorer 211)    

Activities on offer

Walks 20 minutes walk around the surfaced lakeside path
Longer walks via access points off the path 
Orienteering We have two permanent orienteering courses
Maps for these can be picked up from the information room on site
Angling Angling permits for the lake (both day ticket and club membership) are available from Birds Tackle (01473 830683) on Station Road, Great Blakenham
Children's play areas For younger children: There is musical play by the car park, and other equipment (adults will need to be present) near the café. Natural play - from wooden tubes, to toad stall weaving - can be found around the lake
For older children: a climbing boulder and informal play equipment is located around the lake. There is a small den building area where children can build their own shelters from the materials provided
New play equipment will be gradually introduced around the site
Events During the school holidays there are some children’s activities and other events
Field games We have plenty of grass space for outdoor games
Picnics Picnic tables can be found around the site 

Please help to keep the site clean and take your rubbish home with you
BBQs Barbecues are only permitted in part of Mill Meadow, near the main entrance car park

They must be raised off the ground, and not placed on the wooden picnic tables

An ash disposal bin is provided for BBQ disposal
No fires must be lit anywhere on site


Café and visitor centre The Duck and Teapot café near the main entrance offers refreshments including hot snacks, cake, tea, coffee and ice cream
We are proud that the café, which also serves as a visitor centre for the area, opened in May 2022. There are public toilets on the premises, including a changing facility. Visit The Duck and Teapot's Facebook page for more information
Toilets We have two toilet blocks on site - one at the café and one by the car park, with baby changing and disabled access. Facilities open in the morning and close in the early evening
Car parking 

We have two free car parks at the lake, including a charging point for electric vehicles

Keep dogs under close control and respect other people's enjoyment of this Nature Space by not allowing your dog to be a nuisance. Dogs are not allowed on the Play Areas

Dog bins Owners must clean up after their dogs. There are several dog bins located around the site
Litter bins Please use the litter bins near the café. We encourage visitors to take their waste home for recycling

Eye Castle

The Eye Castle ruin is a scheduled ancient monument located within the town of Eye.

There is a walled, flat grassy area which is popular for picnics and in Summer children’s activities and outdoor theatre productions are held.

Views of the town and countryside can be seen from the folly on top of the mound (Motte). To see the view you need to climb some steep stone steps.

Eye castle grounds are open from Easter to October they are opened by volunteers each day and only at weekends during the winter months.

There is no parking on site. Please use the town centre car park, signage will lead you to the castle.

Interpretation boards at the Castle tell the story of Eye Castle and its links to both local and national events.

Eye is an attractive market town with a wonderful church, many old houses and places to eat and drink. It is worth a visit.

The castle had close associations with royalty since the Norman Conquest in 1066 and was probably used as a defensive site for many centuries before that.

The original castle was a small Norman ‘motte and bailey’ built around 1068 following the Norman conquest of England. The motte is the high defensive mound which would have had a keep on the top whilst the ‘bailey’ is the level area in front of the mound. Sections of the curtain wall that once circled the ‘inner bailey’ are all that remain of the 12th century castle.

Now the ruins of a folly built in the 19th century are at the top of the motte and can be accessed by a flight of steep stone steps.

The castle was important for about 200 years then fell into ruin in the late 13th century. The Castle grounds have been used as a jail, a workhouse and a school.

Find out more at the visit East of England website 

The Pennings (Eye)

A short walk; 30 minutes around the site allows visitors to look for bird life along the river and wildflowers in the meadows.

From the Pennings there are longer walks on the Mid Suffolk footpath.

This site on the east bank of the River Dove and is managed as a hay meadow.

You can spot from the riverbank kingfishers and water voles.

Dog walkers are a welcome providing that they pick up after their dogs.

Access from Ludgate Causeway, off Hoxne Road.

Find out more at the visit East of England website 


Church Meadow Local Nature Reserve

This was the formal gardens of a large manor house that stood next to St Mary’s Church.

Church Meadow is no longer a formal garden but a space for nature.

  • In Spring you can find many birds in the hedgerows, Whitethroats and Yellowhammers can be heard.
  • Wild flowers grow in the meadow, Southern marsh orchids can found.
  • The lower meadow, has a small pond where dragonflies and grass snakes can sometimes be spotted.
  • You can still see some of the remains of the formal garden, the symmetrical field, a round pond and levelled embankments.
  • Visitors are welcome but dogs must be kept on a lead and clear up after them.
  • An information board is onsite with the history of the gardens.

Green’s Meadow

The area is a designated a County Wildlife Site, due to its rich variety of wildlife and ancient trees in the wooded area. 

  • There are grassy paths to walk on, in winter some areas do flood.
  • There are some Otters and Water vole.
  • In the old meadow you can find Adder’s Tongue Fern and Brown Sedge.
  • The area of willow scrub you can hear warblers sing in the Summer

Pike’s Meadow

Pike's Meadow is a recreation space close to the centre of Stowmarket the River Rattlesden runs alongside.

  • There are children’s play areas for younger and older children.
  • Football goals and basketball net.
  • Some meadow grassland and small wooded area.

Playgrounds and playing fields

The Council owns and maintains a number of playgrounds and playing fields throughout the districts. We hope you enjoy visiting these facilities. Please treat them and other users with respect.

General rules

  1. Put your litter in the bins provided.
  2. If you discover any damage or are worried about anything you see in the playground, let us know.
  3. If you see any vandalism or antisocial behaviour - let us know, but phone the police first.


  • Raedwald Way IP14 6SN
  • Wells Way IP14 6SL

Great Blakenham:

  • Mulberry Gardens IP6 0HU

Needham Market:

  • Needham Lake (please see information above) 


  • Brambling Close IP14 5UN
  • Chilton Fields IP14 1SZ
  • Creeting Road IP14 5GQ
  • Lindsey Way IP14 2PD
  • Maltsters Walk IP14 2DN
  • Partridge Close IP14 5GX
  • Peregrine Drive IP14 5GG
  • Pikes Meadow IP14 2AN
  • Wren Close IP14 5NT

Walsham Le Willows

  • Willow Close IP31 3FE