This is the 48-hour Tour of the Dedham Vale You Really Have to Do
Our modern lives don’t leave much room for long holidays away…
As a result, short breaks in the UK are continuing to gain popularity with individuals looking to take a brief time-out from their busy schedules. A quick trip is far more achievable for most people and, fortunately for us all, they can be just as enjoyable as a longer holiday too!
A short staycation isn’t a long time to be in the stunning Dedham Vale countryside, but it is enough to give you a real flavour of the area. From the popular and widely known Flatford to the villages and vineyards nestled in the Stour Valley area, here’s the 48-hour whistle-stop tour of the local area that you really have to do!
If you’ve driven here through the rolling countryside then you’ve probably already got a taste of what this designated Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) has to offer. If you expect to check into your hotel at the usual time (around 2 pm) then you can get ready for an afternoon of exploring!
Why not lace up your boots and take a leisurely walk through the picturesque scenery? There are a variety of walks in the local area that will allow you to experience everything the beautiful countryside has to offer. One of our favourites is the Box Valley Walk, which encompasses the most scenic of the tributary streams that flow into the River Stour. From the stunning Stoke by Nayland church to the intriguing Gospel Oak near Polstead Hall and an unusual building called The Temple, there’s much to see and do on this lovely walk. It is about 9km and takes about an hour and a half to walk.
After your afternoon outside, you could have a meal out or in your hotel restaurant then retire to your room to get a good night’s rest. But if you’ve still got some energy to spend, why not head out to one of the local pubs to sample some great food and drink? The Hare and Hounds in the fantastic village of Leavenheath is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, serving real ales on hand pump and a great atmosphere that will end your first night on a high.
It’s an area of outstanding beauty, so what would two days in the area be without spending most of your time outside? Make sure you pack in a good breakfast, then head out for a fun-packed day! A great way to spend the morning is to explore one of the many lovely villages in the area.
Stratford St Mary’s was famous local artist, John Constable’s favourite village and one that has changed little over the centuries. The village has traces of a henge from c. 4000BC and Roman remains on Gun Hill. The village has a number of places of historical interest to discover including the oldest surviving house in the village, The Gateman which was built in 1334, the old Stratford mill, and the 15th-century flint-faced church, which is one of the highlights. Plus, there’s a great cafe/restaurant and three pubs where you grab a coffee or some food when you start feeling a bit peckish.
With your one full day, this is the time to head out to Flatford and explore the area’s standout tourist attraction. There is lots to see and do here, depending on how active you want to be, how adventurous you’re feeling, and how much time you want to spend here. Traditionally people who visit Flatford will take a ride down the river to the mill, whether that be by rowboat, on one of the many operated motorboat tours, or even by hiring a kayak or canoe!
Flatford Mill is a favourite stop for many. It’s the scene of John Constable’s most famous painting, The Haywain, and also home to a lovely cafe plus a museum and exhibition dedicated to the life and works of Constable. Just a minute’s walk from the Mill there’s also the RSPB’s nature wildlife reserve, which is a great place to head to sit and take in the scenery, walk through the wildflower meadow, and enjoy the orchard, which was created to nurture the local wildlife.
At this point you’ll probably be exhausted from your day out! So, it could be the ideal time to head back to your hotel for some food and R&R.
Your final morning/afternoon in the area could be spent many ways. Whether you want a leisurely laze under the summer sun, are thinking of enjoying a bit of recuperation in a spa, want to enjoy a quick round of golf, or are interested in going out and visiting a local attraction, this is your last chance to make the most of your staycation!
For your final hurrah, why not try a selection of wines grown and produced right here in the Dedham Vale? Set in 40 acres of beautiful countryside on the edge of the Stour Valley, the Dedham Vale Vineyard creates six styles of award-winning English wine and Carter’s cider. You can drop in and follow the self-guided trail around the vines, or you could book on to a grand tour. Led by one of the expert team members, the tour takes you through the vines as you uncover the process of turning grapes into delicious wine. At the end of the tour, you can enjoy a tutored tasting of wines from the vineyard then sit down to enjoy a tasty lunch. It’s the ideal way to finish your 48-hour tour of the local area!
As you head back to your hotel to collect your bags and load up the car you’ll be going home not only with full bellies and happy hearts but with memories that will last you a lifetime.