Outstanding Activities in the Outstanding Landscape - Part 2

Author: Catherine Smith – Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project

Take a look at part 1 of my top activities to do in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Stour Valley area.

Eating and drinking is a must!

  1. You can easily munch your way from dawn to midnight, from one end of the valley to the other…. And so much to choose from. Pack yourself a local picnic at the many deli’s or village shops; visit a local Farmers Market – try; sample local produce on the menu at the welcoming pubs and restaurants; taste local apple juices and cider, wines from the Dedham Vale Vineyard or visit one of the micro-breweries.

Explore local heritage

Be it the buildings or nature, are what the Stour Valley is best at! The built heritage includes amazing architecture and archaeology. From The Court Knoll at Nayland – an Anglo-Saxon site; to Mount Bures and Clare Castle – both motte and bailey castles built just after 1066; to village architecture with medieval buildings, often timber framed or thatched.

Stour Valley Churches

  1. They all have their individual stories and several do tower tours, or have panoramic photos on display to save you climbing up. John Constable painted several churches, including Stoke By Nayland, and at Dedham church you can see one of Constable’s few religious paintings. At East Bergholt church you should look out for the graves of Constable’s parents while marvelling at the rare bell cage in the churchyard – this temporary structure from 1531 housed the bells while a tower was to be built, but Cardinal Wolsey fell out of favour.

Events and Festivals

  1. Events and festivals add even more flavour to time in the Stour Valley. A River Stour Festival runs throughout the year, coordinating a range of events to celebrate the River Stour, the people and places along the river A music festival is held at Bures, jazz greats can be heard at the Stoke By Nayland Hotel, regular performances are held in the Quay at Sudbury, a food festival at Sudbury is great to find out about the local produce. Many of the local conservation organisations and reserves hold events for people to learn about the landscape and its care.


  1. And finally, because there really are more than ten things to do, here is the rest of the list! Shopping (Sudbury is the centre of silk, as worn by Princess Diana on her wedding day), crafts shops and centres, antique hunting, walking the 60-mile long Stour Valley Path, and enjoying the ‘dark skies’ because lack of light pollution makes the Milky Way easier to see!
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