Visit Dedham Vale & Stour Valley

Known for vast spaces and big ever lovely skies the Essex countryside is perfect for a walk or a sit-down picnic. The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley shows one of our most beautiful landscapes. Quaint villages, rolling fields, brooks, meadows, old woodlands and a vast variety of local wildlife come together to create what many say as the old English lowland landscape. The area has a great history and has been the inspiration to many authors and artists.

The network of old winding lanes is an important part of the scenery, and many of these hidden pleasures offer some of the most beautiful and superb views. The best way to enjoy and fully experience the exceptional landscape this area has to show is, of course, by getting off the track on two legs or by bike. There are loads of established circular and linear walks running through the Dedham Vale, so there is every chance to get back to grass roots, slow down and enjoy the calm, relaxing pace.

The National Trust at Flatford give daily tours, so go and discover the views John Constable painted there and got more from your trip with one of their experienced staff members. The guide will show you copies of Constable’s pictures while stand next to the scene as it is today.

Walk in Constables Footsteps

LeaveManningtree station, do a right, down the car park and at the base of the ramp, face left onto a short grassy path. Straightaway turns right onto the main track – which is signposted to Flatford.

Continue along this main track before turning right underneath the Railway Bridge.

Carry on until reaching the river bank, where you do a left, and follow the path along the river wall, overlooking Cattawade Marshes. The sights across the way gives perhaps the first feel of being in the valley. Stroll down the path until reaching 56 Gates, which is Flood Defence Barrier, in the olden days it was used to separate the fresh water of the River Stour from the main river. At the National, Trust signpost walk right and meander alongside 56 Gates following the thin lane to Flatford. The path mirrors the river side to bring you out at Flatford. At this point, you can easily return to Manningtree going the same way or there is the chance to carry on to the little village of Dedham. Do allow around 40 minutes for a gentle stroll.