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Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham

There are currently 3 comments and 5 photos online for this walk.

Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham
Author: Steve Hallam, Published: 16 Apr 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide star1 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide star1 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide star1 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide star1 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide
Essex, East Bergholt
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham
Length: 7 miles,  Difficulty: boot Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide boot Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide
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0002_sunny_intervals Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide Today's weather
9 °C, Partly cloudy, Wind: 8 mph WSW
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0001_sunny Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide 0018_cloudy_with_heavy_rain Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide 0001_sunny Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide 0001_sunny Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide 0001_sunny Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide

This walk is set in the landscape that inspired John Constable, whose birthplace is passed close by. It is a 7 mile circular walk through lovely pastoral scenery, 8 miles north east of Colchester in Essex. It runs either side of the River Stour, visiting both Dedham and Flatford Mill. A detour provides some contrast to the wide river valley by climbing up to the edge of East Bergholt. The entire valley is part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The seaward end of the walk provides excellent views over the RSPB Cattawade wetland reserve. Both bird and butterfly watching are rewarding.

Most of the route is on farmland, mainly grass. One mile is along a flood bank, while 0.8 miles is on pavements by the side of roads. These roads are busy, but provide views across the tidal valley of the River Stour. There are two short sections that are a bit grotty, but two big breaths and you will be past them, and the rest of the walk more than compensates, imho. There is one steady climb on the walk, otherwise the walk is flat or downhill. The climb can be avoided, if required. There are no stiles on the route, only gates, but both sheep and cattle are likely to be encountered. Allow 3.5 hours.

The walk starts and ends at the car park of Catterwade Picnic Site, accessed off the B1070, at CO11 1RG. If you are coming by car, there is a brown picnic place sign showing where to turn off the B1070, a photo of which is in the gallery for the walk. Ipswich Buses route 92, from Ipswich to Manningtree, stops by the picnic site. Manningtree, from where it is quite easy to link up with this walk, is served by the 104 Colchester to Harwich bus, as well as by trains from London, Ipswich, Norwich and Harwich. There is a field path from Manningtree railway station that links directly with this walk.

Walk Sections

Start to Concrete Roadway
Start to Concrete Roadway

Start point: 51.9568 lat, 1.0563 long
End point: 51.953 lat, 1.0197 long

You might feel that the start of the walk looks like an unassuming spot. But while I was putting my boots on I was able to watch a Marsh Harrier quartering the reed beds not 30 metres from where I was standing.

At the entrance to the car park turn right to walk through the gap in the hedge to access the main A137. Cross straight over the road (do not be tempted to walk down the verge - it ends), passing between a Chinese restaurant and a garage. (Don't panic - it's not all like this.) Follow the road round to the right to cross quite a nice old river bridge, now pedestrianised. Follow the stub of the old road back to the A137 and then continue down its pavement to cross the tidal River Stour.

As soon as you have passed the pumping station and crossed the river, you will see a footpath sign (and the obligatory red dog-waste bin) on the other side of the road, pointing down the river flood bank. Cross the road and walk along this flood bank. There are great views on both sides of the valley. On the other side of the river is an RSPB reserve that holds large numbers of wintering wildfowl and waders, as does the river itself. In summer it is becoming increasingly important for rare breeding waders. The bushes along the bank are excellent for warblers and other song birds, while the larger areas of scrub, near the sluices, hold Nightingales in April and May. This bank is also good for butterflies.

Follow the bank for a mile, until the path goes into a grass field, by a National Trust sign and a metal kissing gate (that you don't actually use). The path for Flatford goes off right, but our route goes straight on, alongside the mature hedge on your left. After a few yards, turn left to cross a concrete bridge over a ditch. Go through the metal kissing gate on the other side and then turn right to follow the beaten path across the grass. On the far side of the field, you come to the start (or is it the end?) of a concrete farm roadway.

Concrete Roadway to Dedham High Street
Concrete Roadway to Dedham High Street

Start point: 51.953 lat, 1.0197 long
End point: 51.9589 lat, 0.996 long

Follow the concrete roadway, through two metal farm gates secured by loops of typically 'hi-tech' bailer twine, to a point where the road turns sharp left. Go through the metal kissing gate in front of you to carry straight on across an arable field. At the far side of the field, carry on along the grassy field margin, with a hedge on your right. Go through a hedge gap into a second field, still keeping to the field edge. From this field you go through a kissing gate to enter a grass field. You are still heading straight on, but now the field boundary is on your left.

Part way down this grass field, where the hedge/fence on your left kinks slightly to the right, is a metal kissing gate in this fence. At this point there are three path options. One path does not go through the gate, but carries straight in the field you are in. Ignore this path. Once through the gate, one path goes off sharp left - ignore this one too. The path you want turns right once through the gate, so that it is running down the other side of the fence/hedge. So the hedge is now on your right. I got confused - I hope you do better!

After 120 metres you will see a yellow footpath arrow pointing at an oblique left angle, into the field. And you will also hopefully see where a path diverges from the field boundary in the direction of the arrow. This is your route. Follow the path across this arable field, through a narrow gap in a hedge, and then straight across a second arable field. On the far side of the field, a gate leads into a narrow, fenced path that comes out on a road. Turn right and follow the road for a few yards until it turns sharp left.

Dedham High Street to Bridge Over River
Dedham High Street to Bridge Over River

Start point: 51.9589 lat, 0.996 long
End point: 51.9597 lat, 1.0197 long

The road that turns left leads into Dedham High Street and the old market place. Dedham is well worth a detour. It has many old and lovely buildings, a large old mill, a preserved river lock, a magnificent 'wool' church, and provides many tempting opportunities to spend money that you don't really need to.

Our route goes right where the road turns left, following a track signposted to Dedham Hall Business Park. After a few yards the gravelly track swings left into a car park, and our path heads off right, passing a superfluous wooden kissing gate. The path quickly narrows and become fenced both sides. Carry straight on, ignoring a path that goes off right through a metal kissing gate (and by a National Trust sign). Our path goes through a tunnel, formed by overarching small trees and then opens out into a riverside meadow. Follow the path beaten in the grass to reach the river, by the side of a substantial wooden double kissing gate and a bridge over a ditch. Turn right to follow the path along the river. You follow this path all the way through the riverside meadows to Flatford Mill. When you reach Flatford Mill, cross the delightful pedestrian bridge over the river.

Bridge Over River to Dazeleys Lane
Bridge Over River to Dazeleys Lane

Start point: 51.9597 lat, 1.0197 long
End point: 51.9663 lat, 1.0359 long

Once over the river bridge, turn right by the corner of the white cottage and follow the lane past the hamlet and mill, to reach the mill pond with Willy Lott's cottage on the other side. This part of the walk nicely demonstrates the maxim that the vast majority of people who visit the country never stray more than about 200 metres from their car. Luckily. As you pass Willy Lott's cottage follow the signs for the Stour Valley Path that direct you to a track that angles off to the left. (Do NOT take the path that goes straight on). Follow the track and Stour Valley Path signs through a metal kissing gate into a grass field (that normally contains sheep).

(NOTE: if you would like a flat and shorter walk, at this point you can keep straight on, following the signs for the Stour Valley Path. This bends back to the right, and then follows field boundaries straight on. The longer route re-connects with the Stour Valley Path later on, which I will indicate.)

Part way across this field you will see a sign on a post pointing left, up the hill, where an obvious beaten path goes straight up the hill to a wooden 5-bar gate. Take this path. (Do NOT take the other path that goes off diagonally left, towards a metal kissing gate on the far corner of the wood in front of you.) This 5-bar gate leads to a path that runs straight on, along a field boundary on your left. Ignore a path that is signposted off left and keep going straight. The path becomes narrow and fenced, before coming to a path T-junction. (If you turn left at this junction, the path takes you into East Bergholt, with yet more attractive buildings and its associations with John Constable.)

Turn right at this junction and follow the new path along a field boundary and then (literally straight) across a residential road. It then crosses over a field, becomes narrow and fenced again, before ending at a road by some houses. Turn right to walk along this road for a few yards to reach Dazeleys Lane, on the right-side of the road.

Dazeleys Lane to End
Dazeleys Lane to End

Start point: 51.9663 lat, 1.0359 long
End point: 51.9571 lat, 1.0564 long

Turn down Dazeleys Lane and follow it down the hill to the end. At the end you are faced with a grass track running across you, with a wooden 5-bar gate bearing a 'Private' sign dead in front. You have re-joined the Stour Valley Path. Turn left and follow the path until it comes out onto a road. Cross the road and turn right. Pass rapidly through a rather un-aesthetic, but short, stretch of road. Once past this, the road provides views across the RSPB reserve. 600 metres after joining the road, you will see a small brown sign for a picnic site (see gallery images). Cross the road to walk down the signposted lane. You will see the starting car park at the end, on the right.

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network Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide Original GPX source file

Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author SteveHallam and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 comments for "Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham"

Great walk, a little bit overgrown at the start, but well worth it.

By sigitaslaima on 21 Jul 2018

Fantastic directions great walk if not narrow in a few places. Beware the stinging nettles, I wore shorts... Ouch lol. Well recommend this walk for its great scenery. 5 stars all the way.

By Neo1973 on 28 May 2017

There doesn't appear to be any information about which OS Map is required for this walk

ADMIN RESPONSE: We do not add information about OS maps to all iFootpath walks.

By Almond on 02 May 2017

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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5 gallery images for "Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham"

7746_0SteveHallam1491417937 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide Image by: Steve Hallam
Uploaded: 05 Apr 2017
The sign on the B1070 that points to the start of the walk. Go down this lane and turn right at the end.
7746_1SteveHallam1491417938 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide Image by: Steve Hallam
Uploaded: 05 Apr 2017
Looking across the River Stour towards the RSPB Catterwade reserve - a great place for birds and butterflies!
7746_2SteveHallam1491417938 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide Image by: Steve Hallam
Uploaded: 05 Apr 2017
Looking across the River Stour towards Brantham
7746_3SteveHallam1491417939 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide Image by: Steve Hallam
Uploaded: 05 Apr 2017
The pedestrian bridge over the River Stour at Flatford
7746_4SteveHallam1491417939 Constable Country: Flatford and Dedham Walking Guide Image by: Steve Hallam
Uploaded: 05 Apr 2017
You MUST recognise this view! Constable's original hangs in my Mum's front room. Honest.

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