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You have visited Constable Country
Panoramic views over the rive Stour from Dedham towards Flatford.

Explore Constable Country and walk in the footsteps of a great artist.

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 said:

"I associate my careless boyhood with all that lies on the banks of the Stour. Those scenes made me a painter".

 
Guide Ian showing a Constable painting at Flatford.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The network of ancient lanes is an intricate part of the landscape and many of these hidden treasures offer some of the most spectacular and memorable views. The best way to enjoy and fully experience the exceptional beauty this area has to offer is, of course, by venturing off the beaten track on foot or by bicycle. There are many established circular and linear walks throughout the Dedham Vale, so there is every opportunity to get back to nature, slow down and enjoy the gentle, relaxing pace.

The National Trust at Flatford offer daily tours, so why not discover the views John Constable painted here and get more from your visit with one of their experienced guides. The guide will show you copies of Constable's pictures whilst standing next to the scene as it is today. More information can be found on The National Trust website.

A number of itineraries have been developed for the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley area. For more details visit the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley website or download the suggested itineraries below. 

 
 
 

Walk in Constable's footsteps

The river Stour

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.

 
 

'Keep it Special'

Willy Lotts House in Flatford as seen from the lake.

Take your time, relax and flick through the 'Constable Country - Keep it Special' guide and find out why the Dedham Vale is such a special place to visit. No matter how long you stay or whatever the time of year, the Dedham Vale will always inspire and captivate. The area has much to offer. The changing seasons simply bring fresh and exciting discoveries. A crisp frosty morning offers a new perspective on the sun-drenched water meadows of the summer months that Constable so loved. Enjoy a peaceful evening stroll with the setting sun providing an impressive backdrop and visit midweek to experience the area at its very best.

Please contact the Visit Colchester Information Centre if you need assistance.

 
 

Stour Valley on foot

Panoramic views over the Stour Valley showing fields and pastures.

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. 

 
 
Local accommodation
Maison Talbooth

AA 3 Red Star Country House Hotel £150-£295 prpnb, Colchester, 01206 322367

 
 
Milsoms

AA 3 Star Small Hotel £98-£135 prpn, Colchester, 01206 322367

 
 
Marlborough Head Inn

VisitEngland 3 Star Inn £60-£170 prpn, Dedham, 01206 323250

 
 
Sun Inn

AA 4 Highly Commended Yellow Star Inn £100-£160 prpnb, Dedham, 01206 323351

 
 
Stoke by Nayland

VisitEngland 4 Star Hotel £71-£202 prpn, Colchester, 01206 262836

 

The Painters' Trail

A woman cycling outside Dedham with St Mary's church in the distance

The 69-mile-long Painters' Trail cycle route takes you through the picturesque and historic Dedham Vale. Take in the rolling lowland countryside, the perfect landscape for a relaxed ride. Leave the car behind and pick up the route at Bures or Manningtree station.

 
 
 

The Dedham Vale Hopper - map and timetable

PIcture of the Dedham Vale and the river Stour with a black cow drinking water in the river.

The Dedham Vale Hopper runs from Manningtree Rail Station every hour with links to Flatford, East Bergholt, Stratford St Mary, Dedham, Lawford and Manningtree town centre. The route will allow you to enjoy the Dedham Vale’s riverside landscape and natural beauty and visit other famed places of interest in the area.

 
 

Abellio Greater Anglia Bike & Go

A young couple on Bike and Go branded cycles.

Abellio Greater Anglia Bike & Go is a new bike hire scheme available at selected train stations for you to quickly and easily continue your journey. Riding along quiet roads and well-surfaced tracks you will be able to explore this charming landscape, its ancient woodlands, rolling farmland and historic villages. 

 
 
 
 
Essex County Council
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