Exploring the area car-free

Despite being a rural and working landscape, there are train stations in the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley that are only a healthy walk away from some of the area’s most popular attractions and destinations.

Located on the eastern edge of the Dedham Vale National Landscape, Manningtree station is part of the Great Eastern Main Line that runs from Norwich-London Liverpool Street, with nearby stops in Ipswich and Colchester, making it an ideal entry point to the Dedham Vale.

The Gainsborough Line also operates in the Stour Valley and connects the town of Sudbury to Marks Tey in Essex, which is also on the Great Eastern Main Line, with stops in Bures and Chappel & Wakes Colne along the way. Marks Tey is just two stops from Manningtree.

To help you get the best out of your visit to Constable Country, please consider arriving in the area by public transport. We’ve put together three different walks of greatly varying distances, all starting at train stations in the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley.

The Good Journey - Journey Planner website also can help you plan car-free journeys across the UK.


Cows by the River Stour

The River Stour

Sudbury Station – Gainsborough’s Trail

Sudbury is the home of the great landscape artist, Thomas Gainsborough and Sudbury’s train station is the ideal place to start exploring the town, with two different trails named after him.

The Gainsborough Trail – Great Cornard Walk is a 7-mile circular route starting and finishing at the station, made up of varied landscapes from riverside paths, open glades and woodlands to viewpoints overlooking the landscape that inspired Gainsborough.

You can discover historic Bakers Mill beside the meandering Stour, ancient Danes Hole where Boudicca’s army defeated the Romans (possibly!), and chalk cliffs that gave rise to Sudbury’s brick-making industry.Alternatively, the shorter Gainsborough Trail - Meadow Walk provides a great introduction to the history of Sudbury and the Stour Valley. For 200 years bricks made from local clays were transported down the river by lighters (barges) to London.

The 3.5-mile Meadow Walk features Sudbury’s ancient water meadows, which, having never been ploughed to grow arable crops or treated with chemical fertilisers, are a rich source of biodiversity for a wide variety of wildflowers and wildlife.

Sudbury Water Meadows


Bures Station - Circular Walks

Just seven minutes from Sudbury by train, the village of Bures as a wealthy industrial town in the Middle Ages, specialising in the manufacture of woollen cloth. Bures nestles in the valley at the crossing point of the Stour, where footpaths rise out of the village giving the opportunity to enjoy beautiful views.

From Bures Station you can enjoy two different circular walks. To the south you have Bures Hamlet and Mount Bures, or alternatively a longer walk out to the east of the village leads you to some of the finest views in the Stour Valley.

From St Stephen’s Chapel you can admire the famous Bures Dragon which sits ominously on the hillside opposite. You also have the option to walk on further to Arger Fen and Spouse’s Vale, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve, a 49.7-hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Bures Station

Bures St Mary

The Stour Valley Path

If you want a big challenge for your bucket list, enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale countryside with the long-distance Stour Valley Path, from Newmarket, near the source of the river Stour, through the National Landscape, to Cattawade where the river joins the estuary.

Highlights along the way include Devils Dyke, Clare Castle, idyllic villages such as Nayland and Long Melford, Dedham and Flatford Mill and RSPB Cattawade Marshes, with dramatic landscape scenery from valley side slopes to tranquil riverside paths.

Newmarket Train station is located a short distance from the start of the Stour Valley Path and is on the Ipswich-Cambridge line. The Stour Valley Path starts at the Clock Tower at the top of Newmarket High Street.

Along the route, Sudbury Station and Bures Station are close by so you can break it down into chunks, with the Stour Valley Path culminating in Cattawade, a short

walk from Manningtree Station, which also connects with Ipswich, Colchester, Norwich, and London. Spread the walk over a few days and enjoy all the Stour Valley has to offer at your leisure, with plenty of places to stay, eat and drink on the route.