Characterised by open spaces and big ever changing skies the Essex countryside is perfect for a stroll or a leisurely picnic.
The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley embraces one of our most cherished landscapes. Picturesque villages, rolling farmland, rivers, meadows, ancient woodlands and a wide variety of local wildlife combine to create what many describe as the traditional English lowland landscape. The area has a rich history and has been the inspiration to many writers and artists. The Dedham Vale was immortalised by John Constable in his paintings over 200 years ago. John Constable himself said that "I associate my careless boyhood with all that lies on the banks of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter".
The National Trust organises guided Constable tours around Flatford - these last approx one hour. The guide shows also copies of Constable's pictures whilst standing next to the scene as it is today. From May to Sept (inclusive) three tours take place every day (11.00am; 1.30pm & 3.00pm). More information can be found through The National Trust website. In March, April & October (weather permitting) two tours take place every day at 12noon and 2.00pm. You can also make advanced bookings if you are a group organiser, tour company & coach company, school, etc.
Three itineraries have been developed for the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley area. These form part of a series of 18 sustainable tourism itineraries for the eastern region. For more details visit www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org or download the suggested itineraries below.
A day walking through Constable Country - download itinerary
Leave your car behind and take in the countryside at the pace that Constable did himself. You can visit the locations Constable painted and the places he lived or just enjoy strolling though this fine example of an English lowland landscape.
Exploring the Stour Valley on foot - download itinerary
This itinerary is based on a section of the Stour Valley Path, a 60 mile long regional walking route following the River Stour Valley. This itinerary picks up the path at Bures and describes the highlights of this beautiful lowland landscape best enjoyed on foot. The route passes through scenic countryside and the historic malting and weaving villages which can be found dotted along the valley.
Days out cycling on the Painters' Trail - download itinerary
The complete Painters' Trail is a 69-mile long cycling route through the picturesque and historic Dedham Vale, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Take in the rolling lowland countryside, the perfect landscape for a relaxed ride. Why not leave the car and pick up the route at Bures or Manningtree station.The Days out cycling on the Painters' Trail contains details of three shorter one day cycle rides based on the Painters' Trail route.
The Constable Country - Keep it Special guide allows you to tread in the artist's footsteps by taking a relaxing walk. There are waymarked footpaths without stiles along the River Stour between Flatford, Dedham and East Bergholt, which form part of the long distance Stour Valley Path.
You can even follow Constable's walk to school across the fields and feel his spirit in the rustle of the leaves and the tranquillity of the river.
You can either downoad the pdf of the guide (click on the image on the left) or you can contact VisitColchester Information Centre for a copy.