Stour Valley Path 7: Stoke-by-Nayland to Cattawade

21 August 2011

With one thing and another, it's been three months since Stephen last did any stage walking on UK long-distance paths, on the Stour Valley Path back in May. Today it was time to return to the Stour Valley to walk the last stage, the whole of today's walk being in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which boded well.

Passing the Crown in Stoke-by-Nayland, with pleasant smells emerging early on Sunday lunchtime.

Away from the village, heading across a sheep-filled field towards the River Box

George looking clean and fluffy as we cross the Box.

Immediately downstream of the confluence of the Box and Stour, we cross the Stour into Essex for the final time on this walk.

George in a field of onions

Walking near lakes not shown on the Ordnance Survey maps

Presumably the sand is for horses, though it ends rather abruptly behind me

The old London-Ipswich road through Stratford St Mary, fortunately now bypassed by the A12

From the A12, there is an extended very pleasant section walking along the banks of the Stour. For a walk named the Stour Valley Path, although we've crossed the river a fair bit, there has been very little walking alongside it.

Approaching Dedham Mill, a rather unusual construction on the other side of the river

Dedham Lock

The other side of the road from Dedham Mill, Sunday picnickers are out in force, together with lots of people messing about in boats - sharing the river with three cows.

Crossing to the south bank of the Stour at Fen Bridge, though remaining in Suffolk as the county border has wandered to the south to follow the Old Dedham River, perhaps the main course of the river before the Stour was turned into a navigation.

At Flatford Mill we return to the northern bank

The Granary at Flatford is now a bed and breakfast

Flatford Mill

Willy Lott's house and a fair approximation of the closest one can now get of the view painted by Constable in The Haywain - he compressed the roof of Willy Lott's house for artistic effect.

Away from all the Constable visitors, as we near the end of our walk the last pleasant section is across the edge of the marshes of the Stour estuary

There then follows a section along a pavement with a protected roadside nature reserve - the first time I've seen such a sign. It's good to see the nature value of roadside verges being recognised, but I can't help wishing that there were the resources also to offer a safe and wide route for pedestrians (rather than its width being further constrained by the nature reserve spreading across it), perhaps by putting it inside the hedge.

So to Cattawade picnic site and the end of the walk; this is the point where a couple of years ago I began the Stour and Orwell Walk, which continues along the river, but a very different river.

Total 16.2 km in 4 hours. A shame that the last section was along the road but overall a very pleasant walk, particularly the section east of the A12 along the riverbanks which was delightful.

Previous Stour Valley Path walk - Bures to Stoke-by-NaylandStour Valley Path Onwards to the first Stour & Orwell Walk


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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson