Saturday 8 March 2014

Dunwich Heath

I love National Trust guidebooks. I always buy them and read them when I get home though, and this has its dangers. National Trust guidebooks invariably contain some little factoid that would have been useful when you were on-site, so you find yourself wailing "I didn't know there was a crypt containing the bones of 1,000 peasants!" or "I didn't see the carousel that plays Bat Out Of Hell!" (I did see one of those once).

I bought a guidebook at Dunwich Heath today and, sure enough, there it was on page 5, the stop-you-in-your-tracks factoid: in 56 years' time, in 2070, much of Dunwich will be gone. The beautiful coastguard cottages (which house the tearoom and shop), the approach road, the village - the coast will have eroded and it'll all have plopped down into the sea. And that, my friends, is a very sobering thought.

Luckily for us, of course, the National Trust team at Dunwich will have some warning of this (I presume they will anyway, it'd be a bit mean otherwise). Because while the loss of wildlife habitat is a tragedy, the loss of scones, the likes of which I saw today, would be unthinkable. 

Today, readers, I saw with my own eyes 20 DIFFERENT TYPES OF SCONE. TWENTY. I can't even IMAGINE 20 different types of scone, never mind bake them.

But that's exactly what Rob, the lovely chef at Dunwich, managed to do at their Sconeathon. He very kindly invited me along - I'd love to say that the scone blogger intuitively senses when a Sconeathon is going down but I don't - so off we trotted, half expecting to find a man crying on his knees in the kitchen with 400 burnt scones scattered around him, wishing he'd never thought of the idea. 

This is what greeted us:

Sweet National Trust scones Dunwich

If you click on the image you can see it better, but to summarise: you're looking (left to right) at Chocolate Orange, Raspberry & White Chocolate, Lemon & Ginger (I think), Sticky Toffee, Malteser, Apple & Cinnamon, Pistachio & Nutella, Apricot & Almond, Cherry, Chocolate & Coconut, and to the right there was a gluten-free option.

It got better - there was a savoury selection too. Cheese & Chive, Bacon & Maple, Cheese & Bacon, Stilton, Sundried Tomato & Red Onion:

Savoury National Trust Scones Dunwich

On the way there, I'd been talking tough about trying all of them but in the end I only managed three, while the Scone Sidekick snaffled down two. Here they are up close:

Sticky Toffee Scone Dunwich Heath
Sticky Toffee Scone

Chocolate Orange Scone Dunwich
Chocolate Orange Scone

Malteser Scone
Apple Cinnamon Scone
Apple & Cinnamon Scone

Raspberry & White Chocolate Scone
Raspberry & White Chocolate Scone

I can honestly say that the Sticky Toffee scone was one of the most sublime things I have ever eaten. It was absolutely 100% a scone but it was also absolutely sticky toffee, complete with dates and everything. The Chocolate Orange scone was out of this world too - a really fresh and tasty scone with divine extra flavours. Malteser was lovely too and Scone Sidekick assures me that his were fantastic but he'd eaten them before I got a chance to taste them. 

Rob created the Dunwich Sconeathon because he wanted to give his regular customers something different. The regulars are the ones that come along in the depths of winter and so an ever-changing variety of scones gives them something a little bit special.

He then bravely invited me into the kitchen to help him bake some of the Sticky Toffee scones. I found it fascinating - every chef has their own approach to making scones and Rob let me into one of his secrets; the faster you make them, the nicer they are. 

The tearoom was completely mobbed and I'm pleased to report that the scones were a massive hit. 

Dunwich itself is an absolutely beautiful spot. It's in between Southwold and Aldeburgh on the Suffolk coast and is tucked away in its own little corner. At the time of The Domesday Book, Dunwich was twice the size of Ipswich but it was gradually lost to coastal erosion, which continues today at a rate of 1m per year. The heath is rare coastal lowland heath (thanks, guidebook) and is home to Dartford Warblers, adders, and other rare species that the National Trust works hard to conserve and protect.

Dunwich Heath

The beach is perfect for walking - in fact there are countless walks around the area to help you burn off the effects of 20 types of scone:

Dunwich Beach

I'm going to finish with a picture of the lovely Rob holding a tray of his Lemon & Ginger scones. The people of Dunwich are so lucky to have him. Thank you for a lovely day, Rob - the world of scones salutes you.

Dunwich Heath Rob

Dunwich Heath: 5 out of 5
Scones: 5 out of 5 x 20 

1 comment:

  1. I was in Dunwich very recently and was incredibly excited to hear of their Sconeathon days. Sadly, my visit didn't coincide with one and I'm now back "home" in Northern California. But now that Dunwich is on my radar, I'll try to plan a future East Anglian trip to coincide. Meanwhile, if Rob and his scone-cutter ever find themselves in San Francisco, I promise them the VIP treatment!