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Dedham Vale

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A designated 'Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty' on the Suffolk/Essex border, Dedham Vale is a perfect example of English lowland landscape. 

Famous with a reputation made well-known by artists like Gainsborough and Constable, Dedham Vale covers the area around the River Stour between Smallbridge Farm and Manningtree, and includes the village of Dedham, which is part of Constable Country made famous by the artist John Constable.  

Landscape

The Vale's most famous feature is its beautiful, characteristic lowland landscape that's home to a wide variety of wildlife. Much of the views Constable experienced are still present although a lot of the land has been farmed which retains natural beauty and rebuffs any plans for development. 

Living here

The peaceful landscapes, efficient transport links and various activities make Dedham Vale a great place to settle down, especially for families who love nature and exploring. The endless green space and relaxed atmosphere make living in Dedham Vale an absolute breeze; some excellent restaurants situated in beautiful villages give you an added reason to call the area home. 

Wildlife

Dedham Vale features a wide range of wildlife, from barn owls to otters. The area is very keen on protecting this wildlife and works with landowners, farmers and organisations to help protect the land they thrive on. Some of the species that they work hard to protect include the Native Black Poplar, otters, stag beetles, dormouse and skylark.

Activities

With such a naturally beautiful area there is, of course, plenty to do in the area whatever you like doing. The best way to explore Dedham Vale is definitely on foot -boasting several walks; two in particular are ‘The Essex Way’ and ‘The Stour Valley Path’. These walks range between 2 and 61 miles and are suitable for all types of walkers, from casual to those wanting more of a challenge (and the 61 mile is certainly that!).

If you prefer cycling, the meandering lanes and beautiful byways of the Stour Valley are great ways for cyclists to view the amazing scenery. The land is quite generous to cyclists, featuring country lanes and benevolent slopes that are suitable for cyclists of all abilities. The National Cycle Route 1 lies across the area as well as the Cycle South Suffolk route and the 69-mile Painter’s Trail, which takes you across some of the area’s most artistic locations. You can split it up into shorter rides so don’t worry about having to ride every mile!

Arts & culture

It’s no secret that the Stour Valley is a perfect spot for artists to find inspiration, the open skies, hoary hedgerows and gorgeous meadows have attracted artists from all over. The best known is John Constable, whose work can be found all over the world, as well as Thomas Gainsborough (a Stour Valley native) who was known best for his portraits, and an avid fan of the luscious landscape.

Food & drink

When it comes to eating and drinking, the area is littered with incredible places that will ensure your appetite is met. The Essex Rose do some great tea and cake, and the Swan Inn, Anchor Inn or the Angel Inn are all great for that great pub grub.

There’s Milsoms, Maison Talbooth and Le Talbooth too which offer luxury food that’s fantastic for a casual stop-in or something special. You can’t book so ensure you arrive early and expect to wait a little while - but it’s well worth it for the award-winning food. The Boathouse is a great option too, ideal for romantic meals and with an added bonus of being able to hire boats to take up the river.

Getting around

The Stour Valley is easily accessible for those in the UK and abroad, as there is various air, train and bus links to and from the area. Visit the Dedham Vale website for more detail on transport times.

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