by John | Oct 19, 2012 |

Walkers' Blog: Flatford to Dedham


Despite threats of rain showers and cooler weather we awoke to bright sunshine, clear skies and the scent of summer flowers. Over a leisurely breakfast - it was Sunday - we discussed walks. The essentials were not complicated: easy parking, near water, not too demanding a walk, attractive countryside, interesting architecture and an art theme. We settled on the Stour Valley Path. We parked at the car park at Flatford Mill, luckily able to find a spot in the shade.

Cameras and water bottles at the ready, we strolled past Flatford Mill - if this is your first, or even second or third visit do allow at least half an hour to look round - and then moved on over the bridge past Bridge Cottage (National Trust). Here we nearly altered our well formulated plan for there were rowing boats for hire and a super new electric powered pleasure boat taking passengers up and down the Stour between Flatford Mill and Dedham. We resisted and went through the kissing gate to the meadow and the path to Dedham.

It is a gentle walk and the countryside, although changed since those days when young John Constable ambled this route musing about art rather than milling (his father had him in mind for the family business). The elms have long gone but the willows remain, their silver leaves flashing in the summer breeze. The geese cropped the grass close to the water's edge, swans swanned majestically over the clear water and herds of cows slowly chewed the cud.

This is a spot for traditional pleasures; families picnicked on the river bank, some were fishing, a few adventurous souls had set up their barbecues and couples strolled beside or rowed on the river, while children paddled in the shallows close to the bridge at Dedham.

Arriving at Dedham we strolled into the main street, admiring the wonderful architecture of the fine houses built by rich wool merchants and now fully restored by wealthy Londoners who have chosen this area as an escape from the hubbub of city life. We considered walking the three quarters of a mile to Alfred Munning's house, once the home of the famous painter of horses, now a museum, but time was against us. It is certainly well worth a visit.

Instead we turned and walked back the way we had come enjoying the changing scenery and listening to the gleeful calls of happy children and the click, click of the grasshoppers.

A truly magical walk, just over 3 miles there and back. An alternative is to hire a rowing boat or enjoy a half hour trip on the Stour Trust's electric boat from Flatford.

For stylish self catering accommodation close by take a look at Orchard Barn in Hadleigh and Heath Cottage in Dedham.

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