This a long, but easy walk in the beautiful Dedham Vale ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ made famous by John Constable in the 1800s (in fact, you can visit a Constable Museum en-route).
The walk follows the the Stour Valley Path through open fields along winding rivers, and there are some stand-out pubs along the way for lunch, drinks and snacks.
It’s ideal as a weekend getaway if you stay in Stoke-by-Nayland. If you’re feeling adventurous you can walk from Manningtree to Stoke-by-Nayland on the Saturday, then return the same way on Sunday. If you’re short of time or want to start on a Friday night though, Stoke-by-Nayland is a short and relatively cheap taxi from Bures (1hr 11 mins train from LST, 18 mins Taxi) or Manningtree (55 mins train from LST, 28mins taxi).
Station Liverpool Street
Time of walk 3 hrs 30
Time on train 55 mins
Time in taxi 18-28 mins
Time end to end 4hrs 30 mins
Cost £40 (inc Taxi)
How to shorten the route
You can shorten the walk by doing a circular route from Manningtree to Dedham (halfway along the trail) and back (about 2hrs each way, or if you run out of time, get a taxi back!)
Places to stop
Is a super pretty little village with a disproportionately high number of excellent pubs with log fires. The Crown is a bit more restaurant-y but really good, and the Angel does amazing food.
Feels like something straight out of a Just William book, all red-brick, sleepy cats and the distant sound of lawn mowers. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, the best food being at the Sun Inn (which has a beer garden… a log fire and board games) or the Essex Rose tearooms which is about as close as you’ll ever get to having a cream tea with Miss Marple.
If flatford looks familiar, it’s because it’s been in about 100 Constable paintings. It’s a tiny little Mill on the edge of a winding river and is about 30 mins from the end of the walk, so a great spot for a congratulatory beer / cake. There’s a National Trust cafe which does great cakes, and a beautiful garden you can sit in (in Summer) and defend said cake from passing geese.
Manningtree train station has a bar! With darts and £3.50 pints, so if you’re early for the train it’s not a disaster.
Places to Stay
Fun stuff to do on route