Willy Lott's Cottage, Flatford

Looking much as painted by Constable

14-Dec-13 • JonCombe on Flickr

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dry plants

24-Sep-05 • Bela Struzkova

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lawford church

24-Sep-05 • Bela Struzkova

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shadow pen

24-Sep-05 • Bela Struzkova

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24-Sep-05 • Bela Struzkova

book1, swcwalks, walk39


24-Sep-05 • Bela Struzkova

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24-Sep-05 • Bela Struzkova

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Manningtree Circular walk

River Stour - Constable country


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Updated: Sun, 06-Jan-19

Date # Post
Sat, 04-Aug-18 12

Saturday walk - Manningtree Circular - Constable's paintings come to life

Length: 17.3km (10.7 miles) - or 13.3km (8.25 miles) via the shortcut
Toughness: 4 out of 10

10.00 train from Liverpool Street to Manningtree, arriving 10.55.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

If you only do one Essex walk in your life, this is the one to do. It deserves to be done on a fine summer's day, with a scattering of fluffy white cloud, when the landscape looks just like the John Constable paintings that made it famous.

Bringing your pocket book of Constable's greatest hits is not a bad idea, because then you can compare the present day views with his representations of them. Otherwise, this is a gentle pretty outing, passing through the the lovely village of Dedham with its various lunch options and the terminally-quaint (though heavily touristed) Flatford Mill, with its National Trust tea room.

This is a walk where laziness is rewarded because the short cut between Dedham and Flatford Mill (the 8.25 mile version of the walk) is along a very pretty section of the River Stour. Walkers have in the past been known to have a swim in the Stour, though whether this is a good idea from a Health and Safety standpoint I have no idea. (For the record, I did not get any communicable diseases.)

At the end of the walk spare a glance for the Manningtree station buffet, which (at least last time I looked) was like something out of the 1970s.

Trains back are at 02, 19 and 53 past, though mysteriously the online timetable does not show an 18.19. Any of our train experts who would like to comment on this, please do. T=1.39
If you looked at this post on Monday morning, please note I have changed the train time since my first draft of the post
I did this walk yesterday; there are signs along the route highlighting the closure of footpaths for maintenance; this only seemed to be a problem in the final stretch towards Manningtree station, but in actual fact the route is still accessible.Hilary
10 walkers assembled on Manningtree platform and set of on this delightful walk. The powers that be had been busy installing new clearly marked finger posts throughout the walk.
Plenty of succulent blackberries were picked on the initial leg up to St. Mary's Church and a couple of sheep allowed walkers to scratch their backs must have been the heat.
As Hilary pointed out there were some minor diversions but not at all onerous and very well detailed.
2 Ramblers were met doing a walk over for the Hampstead group, one whom I'd not seen for many a year and I found she has still hadn't forgiven me for defecting to the SWC : (
The paddocks just after the railway crossing were an absolute delight to pass with two recently arrived foals. Their minder/stableperson gave us a fascinating talk on the breed of the horses and their new offspring before we continued on to Dedham.
Two further walker's joined us just before we arrived there explaining they had caught a train 2 minutes later than the one posted so 12 on the walk.
Most took lunch in the back garden of The Sun which sported it's new Michelin award plaque for 2018.
Some of us took a quick peek in the Parish Church after lunch where a wedding was about to take place we'd failed to bring fascinators and dickie bows etc. and so we slipped quietly off, heading for Dedham Mill.
A splinter group took a wrong turning to Dedham Hall, but quickly corrected themselves and no yellow cards were issued.
At the Mill, many of the locals had taken to boats or thrown themselves in the Stour to cool down and here our group split into two with half electing to do the shorter walk and the other half a modified version of the longer route.
The short circuiteers visited another St. Mary's at East Bergholt for a respite, briefly spotting Miriam as she headed towards Flatford Mill.
We too headed for the Mill and took tea in the NT Cafe. Our Arts Connoisseur gave us all a commentary on Constable and where he had painted the Hay Wain and so on as we walked.
On the final leg back to Manningtree, there had been some work done on the path (which could be an absolute quagmire after rain). The path had been widened, flattened and straightened and will hopefully be a lot easier to walk in the rainy season.
A final drink was had at that so unusual cafe/bar at Manningtree Station where some of the long routers caught up and we all took the 5:19 back the Great Wen.
A varied and informative day out in a hot day made bearable by much woodland and a few cumulus clouds
Sat, 28-Apr-18 4

Saturday Walk Manningtree Circular

Manningtree Circular t=1.39

This is a walk through the Stour valley that Constable loved, passing by the settings of some of his most famous paintings, a landscape now protected as the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At Flatford, you can learn more about John Constable & there is an exhibition by 4 local artists in the Boat House.

Length 10.7m, 17.3km 4 out of 10

Trains: Get the 0930 Norwich train from Liverpool Street (Stratford 0938) arr Manningtree 1031. Return trains are xx53 & xx02 plus trains at 1619, 1719, 1919.

Lunch: Sun Inn , Dedham (tel 01206 323 351) daily from 12 noon to 3.30 pm. The Dedham Centre Tearoom (tel 01206 322 677) in the Arts & Crafts Centre serves vegetarian food from 12 noon to 2.00 pm daily. For a late lunch, there are three pubs to choose from in Stratford St Mary.

Tea: National Trust’s Bridge Cottage Tearoom, by Flatford Mill (closes 5pm). Manningtree has a station buffet.

4 started on a day that started slightly damp got wetter briefly then dry and was cool and overcast It was largely firm underfoot but there were patches that would have kept any mudlarks happy. The end stretch after Flatford was slippery, uneven and a bit splishy sploshy. A light sprinkling of bluebells en route as well as both campions. Too early for the buttercups. Two ate in the Sun, two picnicked in the rain. Not sure what happened to the faster two later, but the slower two skipped tea and headed for the station and caught the 17:19
The "faster two" pressed on, stopping briefly at Flatford Mill and making an interesting detour to the church at East Bergholt, which i am planning to use as a case example of poor project planning, 16th century style. we just missed the 1619 so had time for tea at the station cafe (coffee only served until 11am) where I mentioned that I had once been asked if I was Mr Tiger . . . but the previous comment shows that I too have been labouring under a misapprehension about his identity; )
Sun, 07-May-17 15

Sunday walk: Constable Country

Manningtree Circular
Book 1 walk 39
Length: 17.3 km. 10.7 miles
Difficulty: 4/10

Last winter During the winter, most of Essex was out of reach of the Sunday walks. It was one big bus replacement with “Essex” on the front.
But the curfew is over and what better way to celebrate than a walk through Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Essex/Suffolk border.
As well as re-visiting the settings for some of Constable’s paintings, we pass some interesting churches.
Like the one in East Bergholt, where plans to add a tower faltered after Cardinal Wolsey died. Five centuries later, the bells are still rung in a "temporary" cage in the churchyard.
And check out the gothic flint lettering round the church in Stratford St Mary ...... mental!
Trains: 9:30 Norwich train from Liverpool St., arriving Manningtree at 10:33.
Return trains at xx:19 and x:53.
Lunch: the Sun Inn, Dedham 01206 323351 serving lunch from 12-3. It's probably a good idea to phone ahead.
Or the Dedham Craft Centre cafe 01206 322677. Large groups should phone to book.
Or, also in Dedham, the Essex Rose tea room 01206 323301.
Tea: the National Trust tearooms at Flatford Bridge, open till 5:30.

Is anyone planning on doing this walk? It's a lovely area, especially now that Essex is no longer out of bounds!
I would be very interested in doing the Sunday walk Constable Country. Who else will be going on this walk?
I have not done a walk with Saturday walking group before so would really like to get an idea of who/how many will be attending.
Thanks everso,
07741 493832
Lily, Hi.
That is difficult to say with any certainty. Our walkers do not usually confirm they are coming beforehand. But, if you’re lucky, you might get some reassuring messages.
If you want to be sure of a large crowd, you can be more confident of numbers on the Saturday walks when 20 or even 30 might show up.
Sunday walkers tend to be a more select band, rarely reaching 10. Looking at the most recent Sundays, the reported numbers were 9,30, 4, 14, 2 (The 30 was a special to Wales, the lows were probably due to the weather). Currently light cloud (no rain) is predicted for Manningtree.
Over the last 20 outings the Manningtree walk attracted an average of 11 people (though this would include Saturdays)

Hi I'd like to do this walk too, but I too have never walked without a leader before and also am not sure how to access the walk instructions, so if a seasoned walker is going and would perhaps be happy to show Lily and me the ropes (so to speak), please post on here. Thanks
There are at least 2 ways to find the directions. In the text above, where it says "Directions: here" click on the word "here". Or you can click on the blue square that says "1.39" They both take you to the walk page. Then click on the blue "Download Walk" button to download a pdf or click on the "Walk Directions" button for an online version.
Hi, Mr M Tiger
You have been most helpful, thank you so much. Well,like Summer I would not feel comfortable doing the walk without a leader so to speak. Hopefully, others may join the conversation before Sunday and if that is the case then certainly I will go. This walk sounds lovely. Meanwhile, I'll take a look at the Saturday walks and will be in touch again, Friday or Saturday fingers crossed we'll have more confirmations.
Thanks : )
Hi there. I will be doing the walk. I've got a map (although I'm not great at map reading!), a GPS, plus will have the directions on my iPad. And if all that fails, it's only Essex I'm sure we won't get stranded!!
Hope to see you on Sunday.
I plan on going, and I am sure there will be others.
just an update, I will have to drop out of this walk I'm afraid I need to finish off a form that I thought was for the following week! Hope you all have a lovely day out and catch up again, hopefully.
Take care
I'm going too! But, I'll need help, if you follow me we can get to Scotland!!!
15 including one late riser and two who dropped out early. cloudy cool am sunny warm pm The gizmo gang raced ahead but Mr Tiger, stolidly plodding along with written directions, had to put them right once or twice. 7 visited the Sun which was accommodating and friendly. Food was good as was the beer. In a rare moment of extravagance, Mr Tiger himself ordered some food. Jaws dropped, as did one or two forks. Good idea to get there 12 ish before the Sunday rush. Tea was had at Flatford Mill which closes at 5. Our group just caught the 17:53. Faster walkers would have got an earlier one. I put money in the box at East Bergholt’s church every time I visit but they still haven’t put the bells on top.
Forget to mention the stunning display on the water meadow next to Dedham Lock. Buttercups and other stuff.
Two of us who set of at what seemed to be a comfortable pace soon lost sight of the following pack and only saw them again once more in the distance. We decided against stopping at the Sun Inn (too early both in the day and the walk), only to discover that the Black Horse pub in Stratford St Mary was not serving food. As my fellow walker had sandwiches anyway, we stopped off at the farm shop just before St Mary's church for additional supplies and then retired to the churchyard where we had a pleasant alfresco lunch in the sun. (It's worth noting that the farm shop also has a café, which might be worth flagging up as a possible alternative late lunch stop). We followed this up later in the walk with tea and cake at Flatford Mill before continuing on to Manningtree in time for the 15.57 train. Alas it benefitted us not, as a broken down train ahead of us meant that we got back to Liverpool Street over an hour late. It was an enjoyable walk though, and as Ian says, the buttercups were stunning.
Sat, 23-Jul-16 24

Saturday First Walk - Constable country

Book 1, Walk 39 - Manningtree Circular
Length: 17.3km (10.7 miles) or 13.3km (8.3 miles)
Toughness: 4 out of 10

10.00 train from Liverpool Street to Manningtree, arriving 10.55

For walk directions click here.

Oh, I know there are some for whom "never do an Essex walk" is as firm a maxim as "never invade Russia", but this one is an exception. This is the Essex walk which doesn't feel like an Essex walk, and it is lovely at this time of year. Ideally you want a day when white fluffy clouds stack up into an otherwise blue sky, and then you actually feel you are walking in a Constable painting - which you are, because this is the exact scenery (and weather and time of year) that he painted.

If you are in a lazy summer frame of mind, the short cut version of this walk (13.3km/8.5 miles) also has a lot to recommend it. Unlike the main walk it takes you along lovely dreamy watermeadows along the River Stour. Three of us once swum in this and lived to tell the tale (don't drink the water, though: livestock graze on its banks). The main walk avoids this treat, but does take in more Constable painting sites.

Tea is at a National Trust tea room at Flatford Mill, site of Constable's most famous painting, the Haywain, and then there is a pleasant walk across the fields to the station which has (or had when we last looked) a licensed bar and buffet - a bit of a 1970s time warp.

There are lots of trains back to the smoke: at 02, 19 and 53 minutes past (though not at 18.19 for some reason, at least not according to the online timetable). The 02 trains are ten minutes slower: the other ones take one hour.

Arrive back at Liverpool Street and admire the lovely station architecture, a brilliant blend of traditional and modern. There, that wasn't too painful, was it?

hi it's going to be a hot day...just wondered if there is any shade on this walk please?

Updated directions placed on website this afternoon.
I'll wear my favourite hat then!

a good walk and even managed a swim in the river Stour. There was quite a lot of tarmac walking after dedham on the main walk and being such a sunny day Dedham was very busy.The river was lovely to swim in.
Yay! Well done for swimming. It is indeed delightful, is it not?
How many on the walk, btw?
20, Weather Sunny and hot. Most had lunch in the garden at the Red Lion, food and beer was reported as very good. After lunch five of us took the short cut along the river bank which was busy with picnickers. Three went in for a brief swim dodging the onslaught of rowers and canoeists. We waited at the NT Flatford Mill tea room for the main group but seems they got distracted so we went on without them. From memory the river bank is more natural going upstream from Dedham but it is probably easier to get into the water downstream. This is one Essex walk that is worth the travel effort.
24, I was in the main walk group, we got to Flatford Mill Café around 4pm, met up with 1 walker who did the short cut. Most surprisingly, 4 more walkers showed up at the station. They took the slow train at 10:02 by mistake in the morning but we were pleased to see them all the same. It was a perfect day to see the Constable country.
Wed, 08-Jun-16 3

Midweek day walk - Manningtree Circular

Manningtree Circular

Hello, hello, hello it's Constable Country. Lets be 'avin you down to the River Stour, Dedham and Flatford Mill

Book 1 Walk 39

Length : 17½ km or 10½ miles

Toughness : 4 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:00 am Norwich train from London Liverpool Street to Manningtree (this one doesn't stop at Stratford)

Meeting point : Manningtree Station at 10:55

Tickets : Buy a cheap day return to Manningtree

Brief Description

You can see how this area will have inspired John Constable to paint with meadows of long grass, classic riverside paths, Flatford mill and the town of Dedham.
Incidentally, many of the high street properties in Dedham had a Victorian makeover where a new façade was added (If you have an opportunity to climb the tower at St. Mary's Church, these are easily spotted)
Plenty of choices for lunch in Dedham and an NT tea stop a mile or so before the end of the walk.
There's also a friendly buffet on Maningtree station (so no excuses for missing the train) where you can get a cuppa or something a little stronger.
You may find full details of this walk here

Suggested Lunch stops

Dedham Centre Tearoom t: 01206 322 677
The Sun Hotel t: 01206 323 351
The Essex Rose t: 01206 323 101

Suggested Tea stops

Bridge Cottage Tearoom, Flatford t: 01206 298260 (National Trust and where nearby, Constable painted some of his classics)
Manningtree Station Buffet t: 01206 391114 (Actually on the station platform)


OS Explorer : 196

Return train times

Trains return from Manningtree Station at 2, 19 and 53 minutes past the hour. (The 2 minutes past is a slower train)
Lets be 'havin you? Manningtree is miles from Norwich!
Manningtree is indeed miles from Norwich, but since Norwich is the final destination of the train you're getting, it's helpful to be told this. It's the final destination that is prominently displayed on departure boards, so knowing this information helps you to locate the right platform quickly.
Just 3 on this walk in glorious warm and sunny 24C weather. I have done this walk quite a few times over the years but only in autumn and winter so what a treat to do it on a perfect early summer's day on dry trails and paths across fields and through woods. Dedham looked as if it had been prepared for a period film set with the main street's buildings looking quite splendid. A high quality lunch was taken at the Sun although for my veggie option I would have liked a slightly bigger portion. Still this was solved at the excellent Bridge Cottage Tearoom where we had tea and huge slices of cake. A duck ambled in to join us but was swiftly shown the door.
We set off on the final leg and easily made our "target" 16.53 train and what a pleasure to do the raised path in dry weather rather than splattering your way through mud. A perfect mid week day out.
Wed, 18-Feb-15 Manningtree Circular
Sun, 16-Nov-14 9 Manningtree Circular, omitting Stratford St Mary and E Bergholt
Sat, 02-Aug-14 10 Manningtree Circular
Mon, 05-May-14 Manningtree Circular
Wed, 15-Jan-14 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 22-Jun-13 4 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 09-Feb-13 17 Manningtree Circular
Sun, 03-Jun-12 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 12-Nov-11 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 28-May-11 Manningtree Circular
Sun, 06-Jun-10 Manningtree Circular
Wed, 18-Nov-09 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 26-Sep-09 Manningtree Circular
Wed, 18-Feb-09 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 30-Aug-08 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 19-Apr-08 Manningtree Circular
Sat, 29-Sep-07 Manningtree Circular
Sun, 05-Aug-07 Manningtree Circular