The Sweffling White Horse has been nominated Ipswich and Suffolk CAMRA Pub of the Year three years running but for one reason or another I’ve never been, until now.
As the weather was good, we went for a walk first. Of the three walks listed on the pub’s web site we chose number 3, which is about 5 miles long. Starting from the pub, there’s a short amble along the road to Sweffling village and then it’s cross-country, through King Edward’s Coronation Wood and then a big loop around Dodd’s Wood, using roads and footpaths, to get back to the start.
The countryside around Sweffling is quite hilly (for Suffolk) and there are some pretty good views across open countryside. It was so nice that I’d do it again, especially as a) we were pushed for time and b) I was so busy navigating that I forgot to take any photographs. I could only find the route on ViewRanger so I was forced to download the app. I have to say that, based on limited experience, I’m impressed.
When a route is downloaded, ViewRanger also downloads the associated map tiles so that the route (and the navigation instructions) are available offline. I used OpenCycleMap for mapping, which isn’t great for footpaths and there were a couple of places where the signposts were missing. However, thanks to ViewRanger, we could see exactly where we were supposed to go. Up until now I’ve been using Locus Maps. It’s a great app but I have to admit that I often find its navigation confusing, especially off-road. I think I’ll plan my next trip with ViewRanger and see how I get on.
Anyway, back to the pub. It was crowded because we’d picked the same day as the pub’s monthly charity walk. Even so, we found somewhere to sit. Inside, it’s very much like pubs used to be decades ago, and none the worse for it. There’s no bar as such – orders are taken at the tap room door. There were four or five beers to choose from – I was too busy talking to take stock – and a selection of bottled lagers. The pub serves food, but only snacks, which were tasty but no substitute for a proper Sunday lunch. That’s not a criticism because the owners make no bones about the fact that the White Horse is a drinking pub, not a dining pub.
We spent a good couple of hours in the White Horse. Everyone was friendly and there was a real community atmosphere about the place. The pub only opens on a few evenings and Sunday lunchtime but there’s lots going on, including open mike nights, stand-up comedy and various bands.
It’s not hard to see why the pub’s won Pub of the Year so many times. It’s a lovely place that I’ll be visiting more often in future.