The picturesque walk on the edge of Essex which is immortalised in famous artwork

The paddle boarder fell off into the River Stour at Flatford. File image
-Credit: (Image: Yoko Mitsui)


A three-mile walk starting in Essex is recognised as being one of Britain’s best. It's not just due to its stunning landscapes - but also because of its preservation in history due to famous artworks depicted of the area and the local River Stour.

The walk begins in Dedham Vale, with its stout oaks, weeping willows, wildflower meadows and meandering rivers being well known to many who have never been there, thanks to landscapes painted by 18th-century artist, John Constable.

Many of his most famous works, such as The Hay Wain - instantly recognisable from the walk's scenery, including the mill pond fairytale-like cottage - The Cornfield and The Leaping Horse, depict the characteristic lowland countryside and charming villages of the Stour Valley, and you stroll through many of the paintings’ settings on this walk.

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Constable studied nature rather than artistic principles, often painting outside rather than working from sketches. Instead of enhancing and stylising his works in the manner of most contemporary artists, he sought to capture the exact colours of the countryside. Remarkably, the same scene can be viewed today. Preserved (but not fossilised) by the National Trust, this is the apex of a much-loved river walk, perfect in spring.

Dedham Vale is as beautiful as it looks on canvas. Some of the finest lowland landscapes in the country are now preserved within the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The short walk takes you along the marshy banks of the River Stour, running from the Suffolk town of Dedham to Flatford Mill – once home to painter John Constable – and back again.

If you fancy a bite to eat, call in at The Boathouse in Dedham, a contemporary restaurant with boat hire, which is a wonderful way to end the day.

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