Picture of the river Stour and the countryside around it with a cow drinking from the river.

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.

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

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

Picture of the house from across a lake with the reflexion on the water.
Willy Lott's House in Flatford.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Tour guide Ian Baalham holding up a copy of a Constable painting at Flatford.

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.

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. You can also catch the Dedham Vale Hopper bus from Manningtree and enjoy the scenery as you are taken into the heart of Constable Country.

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.

Constable Country walking trails

Walk in constable
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.
Stour valley path
Enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the Stour Valley countryside and explore its rich historical associations with a walkers guide to this 60-mile regional route, from Newmarket near the source of the River Stour through the Dedham Vale.

The Stour Valley Path

Painters Trail
The Stour Valley is an exciting and beautiful landscape that has captured people’s imagination for centuries. 'Cycling through a Masterpiece’ is a series of routes through the Stour Valley which take you to numerous locations of historical
importance and past enchanting views.

More information for your visit

PIcture of Willy Lotts House across the pond.

Visitor guide to Constable Country

Take your time, relax and flick through the visitor guide to Constable Country, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 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.

Places to stay overnight

Maison Talbooth

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

 
 
Milsoms

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

 
 
Marlborough Head Inn

VisitEngland 3 Star Inn £60-£100 prpn, Dedham

 
 
Sun Inn

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

 
 
Stoke by Nayland

VisitEngland 4 Star Hotel £73-£1833 prpn, Colchester

 

Where to visit and eat

Sir Alfred Munnings Museum

Colchester 01206 322127

2 for 1 entry to The Munnings Art Museum
 
 
 
Dedham Art and Craft Centre

Colchester 01206 322666

 
 
 
Carter's Vineyards

Colchester 01206 271136

 
 
 
Le Talbooth

Dedham 01206 323150

 
 
 
Esses Rose Tea

Dedham 01206 323101

 
 

Explore Constable Country

Watch Simon Calder as he travels from London Liverpool Street to Essex. He visits beautiful areas of rural Essex, including Dedham Vale, Saffron Walden and Burnham-on-Crouch. Escape the hustle and bustle, download the Rural Escapes booklet, explore our countryside and discover a different side of Essex.
A young couple riding along a rural village road.
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.