Best activities for nature-lovers in Stoke by Nayland and Colchester

Regardless of the season, Stoke by Nayland, Colchester and its surrounds has such a huge amount of wild and enticing beauty on its doorstep waiting to explore. From National Trust sites, to woodlands and parks, guided walks, cycle paths, nature reserves and other stunning marshlands and wildflower meadows, there’s so much to see. Here at Stoke by Nayland Resort we’re really enjoying the blossoming of spring, and now really is arguably one of the prettiest times of year to visit. We’ve pulled together a round-up of ways you can explore the area:

Abberton Reservoir Nature Reserve, Colchester

Abberton Reservoir Nature Reserve is one of Europe’s best wetland sites and is just half an hour North of Stoke by Nayland. It’s a lovely day-trip for couples or families. You’ll see plenty of swans, wild ducks and other water birds. The plethora of bird life is partially due to the fact that it’s located on East coast migration routes. In fact, around 40k birds visit the Reservoir every year. The best species to see here include Wigeon, Teal, Coot, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Black headed Gull. Plus, hundreds of Goldeneye, Shoveler, Pintail and Great Crested Grebe. In the spring there is the unusual sight of Cormorants nesting in tree tops. Surrounding the site is acres of pasture and tree plantations.


Bourne Mill, Colchester

Recently re-opened after the winter break, Bourne Mill was originally built for banquets by the Elizabethans and was then converted into a mill in the 19th century. Set in peaceful surrounds and just a 20 minute drive from Stoke By Nayland Resort, this National Trust site is next to a millpond and a bubbling stream. The mill boasts fine Elizabethan ‘Dutch’ gables and it still has a working waterwheel intact, once used for milling flour. Don’t forget to pack your sketchbook – the Mill is a magnet for artists and historic architect-lovers and nature-buffs alike. There’s also an Easter Egg Hunt taking place at the Mill on Fri 15 Apr 2022.


High Woods Country Park, Colchester

Just a 15 minute drive (or a 40 minute cycle) from Stoke by Nayland Resort, High Woods Country Park is a beautiful location for nature-lovers. Woodland, lake, marshland and wildflower meadows, the Country Park is home to intriguing nature walks, and a popular location for hikers and cyclists, too. There are also three different outdoor play areas with adventure play equipment suitable for toddlers to teenagers. Coarse fishing is also available in the lake and a permit is usually required.


Castle Park and Gardens, Colchester

If you’re popping into Colchester yet craving a bout of sunny nature, this lush and expansive park and gardens is a bit of a town centre oasis. Often the park is host to events, music concerts and festivals, it’s also a lovely retreat for couples or families, with features suitable for small children, including a contemporary adventure play area with assault course equipment. It also has a lovely boating lake with quirky pedal boats available for hire from Easter through to October. Nearby is a cricket ground, cafe, riverside walks and a local museum.


Constable Walk, from Manningtree

A hiking highlight that attracts ramblers and art-lovers alike. You’re guaranteed to enjoy exploring Stour Valley and Dedham Vale on this inspiring and relaxing stroll with the National Trust. Visit the area which has become famous by the 18th-century paintings of John Constable. On the walk you will see Willy Lott’s House, the site of The Hay Wain painting, Flatford Mill and visit the Village of Dedham, the location of Constable’s school. The walk commences from Manningtree station, to the river, through the Cattawade Marshes and the walk leads back to Manningtree Station.


Dedham Treasure Hunt Trail, Dedham

The Dedham Treasure Hunt Trail is a self-guided tour. Simply download your trail PDF for £9.99. It’s a clever little tool that allows you to explore Dedham and crack the clues, full of handy tips that will lead you closer to the treasure. The route takes around an hour and a half to finish, or longer if you choose to stop off and soak up the wonderful country vistas, once inspiration to Constable.


Take to the water with River Stour nature tours

Enjoy the local wildlife and waterfowl from the water on a guided boat trip. Available at Sudbury and the Dedham Vale from Spring until the end of October, it’s a great way to appreciate the view as you leisurely navigate the River Stour.


Another favourite for paddle adventures is Stour Valley Adventure Centre with paddleboard and kayak hire to take the water and enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife.

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