Local Food and Producers
The Stour Valley provides the perfect grazing landscape for farming, and supports many high class local farms and “field to fork” establishments.
Visitors can discover lots of edible delights throughout the valley, and endless opportunities to enjoy delicious and seasonal local produce.
There are three Stour Valley Food Trails which explore the area, from farm shops to cafes, markets to producer businesses.
Improving the Stour Valley for Visitors - Food Trails
There are three Stour Valley Food Trails for exploring the variety of food producers, contemporary and heritage places to eat and drink, and seeing the special scenery of this river landscape that nurtures high quality produce.
Use the interactive map to find the details of all the featured food producers, traders and establishments. Full descriptions of each of the food trails can be found below.
Food In The Stour Valley Visitor Guide
Get a taste for the three Stour Valley Food trails, including the top tips for exploring the edible delights in the area, and the hidden gems not to be missed.
See below for the full and detailed information about each of the three food trails that are featured in this leaflet.
Lavenham, Long Melford, Clare and Cavendish
A collection of beautiful villages with a matching food and drink offer Lavenham has an array of fantastic independent shops including the award winning, family run Lavenham Butchers specialising in local, sustainable meat including hyper local venison shot in fields surrounding the village.
The Ice Cream Parlour on the High Street serves their own, award winning, Hadley Ice Creams, Sorbets and Milk Shakes using locally sourced milk and cream and in Market Place, the historic centre of the village you’ll find Sparling and Faiers Bakery who have been producing bread, cakes and pastries on site for more than half a century.
Market Place, the jewel in Lavenham’s Crown, is home to the Angel, a local pub and restaurant and also The Great House, serving award-winning French cuisine but if good, honest home cooking and great wine is more your style then visit Number Ten located in a beautiful 15th Century House at the corner of Water and Lady Street.
The Cockhorse Inn, located opposite Lavenham church, features regularly updated menus with new twists on traditional British cuisine and with two large gardens and a comfy lounge it’s a good spot for lunch dinner or just a drink.
There’s a wonderful selection of places to enjoy freshly baked cakes including Vintage Blue Tea Rooms and Chilli and Chives whilst Afternoon Tea in The Swan Hotel is a must on this trail – don’t forget to book in advance.
HIGHLIGHT: Make sure you fit this trail around the fourth Sunday of the month when you’ll discover the award Lavenham Farmers Market inside the village hall from 10am until 1pm!
At the far end of Long Melford’s 2 ½ mile High Street you’ll find The Nethergate Brewery Shop and Tap Room where you can sample any six of their ales and lager and book yourself onto a Brewery Tour.
Stretching from Nethergate to Holy Trinity Church, the High Street houses a number of pubs and tea rooms including The Crown Inn, The Cock and Bell, The Bull, The Black Lion, The Hare and Tiffin’s Tea Emporium and as you leave the village and head out to Clare you’ll find Scutchers, an award winning, family run restaurant that has been in the village for 29 years and prides itself on supporting local producers.
Heading out to Cavendish, Willow Tree Farm Shop is on the A1092 near Glemsford. A family run farm shop since the 1950s this shop is constantly diversifying and adapting and is proud to grow a large selection of their own fruit and vegetables as well as supplying items from a number of local, small scale producers (closed on Mondays)
The George in Cavendish is run by friends Bonnie and Lewis who pride themselves on creating the very best seasonal dishes in a beautifully modern interior housed in an ancient timber frame. They were awarded 2-rosettes by the AA in 2013 and the restaurant has maintained this level since then. The George also has four bedrooms all with ensuite.
At the end of this trail you’ll find Clare, famously the smallest town in Suffolk and the home of two great cafes run by Richard Palmer. Number One Deliand Café is in the centre of Clare and serves a full breakfast menu and light lunches with seasonal daily specials and the second café, Platform One, can befound in the original 1865 bookings hall for the Victorian railway station in Clare Castle Country Park! Platform One is open seven days a week and serves light lunches and snacks including home-made soups, quiches and tarts.
Other places to eat and drink in Clare include Café Clare, Honey Hill brasserie, The Swan Inn, The Cock Inn and CAMRA award winning free house, The Globe.
JR Humphrey & Sons is a great local butchers who are proud to source top quality local meat including lambs from Belchamp St Paul and Red Poll Beef and on the third Saturday of each month there is a small food and artisan market held outside on the Market Square from 8.30am until 1.30pm.
HIGHLIGHTS & HIDDEN GEMS: Lavenham farmers’ market is the proud winner of numerous local and national foodie awards. Held on the fourth Sunday ofevery month inside Lavenham Village Hall & featuring almost 40 of the region’s very best food & drink producers and a fabulous Pop Up Café serving Farmers’ Breakfasts, light lunches and freshly baked cakes. Everything that is sold at the market is produced by the person selling and nothing will have travelled further than 30 miles to be at the market.
SUMMER EVENTS: On the second weekend in July, Clare Priory hosts the annual Craft Fair which welcomes around 10,000 visitors over the two days and has a huge range of East Anglian exhibitors.
On the second Sunday in June you’ll find The Taste of Sudbury Food & Drink Festival in the nearby market town of Sudbury. The event held in the centre of Sudbury, is all about celebrating, promoting and showcasing the very best producers, restaurants and chefs from the area and is totally free for all to attend featuring over seventy food stalls and kitchen demo areas.
Call into The George in Cavendish on the Second Friday of the month between 1pm and 3pm and enjoy the Cavendish Cake Club run in association with award winning baker and Cavendish resident, Fiona Murphy of Moo Moo Cakes. It really is a delicious chance to sample her incredible cakes!
HIDDEN GEM - TOP TIPPLE! Two great vineyards are worth a visit;
Giffords Hall is a family run vineyard in the village of Hartest. Famed for their sparkling wines and Bacchus wine, in the summer there are monthly tours of the vineyard as well as a cellar shop. Check out the website www.Giffordshall.co.uk for all dates/timings.
Lavenham Brook – based in the outskirts of Lavenham in Brent Eleigh, they sell award winning wines including sparkling wines and a special Pinot Moir Red wine. Don’t miss out on their locally reared Red Poll beef or apple juices. More details on opening times on the website www.lavenhambrook.co.uk
Stoke by Nayland, Stratford and Dedham
Nestled in the heart of Constable Country, the beautiful village of Dedham and surrounding landscape has a delicious selection of Foodie options. A landscape that inspired one of Britain’s finest artist also can inspire visitors to explore its food and drink offering.
Cosy sofas, blazing fires and wood panelled snugs make The Sun Inn on Dedham High Street the perfect place to while away the hours enjoying a menu specialising in local ingredients.The Old Bakery Café also on the High Street is a great place for a light lunch or coffee and cake and if you fancy a traditional Cream Tea head to The Essex Rose Tea Room on the High Street for homemade scones, Tiptree jam and clotted cream.
Hall Farm in nearby Stratford St Mary has a Farm Shop with a great butchers counter, a decent selection of fresh fruit and vegetables and a popular café and restaurant and if you are in the area on a Friday morning especially in the summer then a quick detour to Hadleigh Market should be on your itinerary (highlight).Top Tip: Buy a special packed lunch for the farm shop and enjoy the farm trail (free)
Stoke by Nayland boasts two great pubs. The Angel Inn, a 16th Century coaching inn and The Crown where top quality food and drink is always available in lovely friendly surroundings with beautiful views from the back of the property looking out across the Dedham Vale.
Just over a mile from Stoke By Nayland is the small, peaceful village of Polstead with a lovely big duck pond and at the top of Polstead Hill you’ll find The Cock Inn, a traditional 17th Century Freehouse Country Inn offering a really friendly welcome extended to dogs and kids!
Top Tip: if you are a caravan lover then Polstead Club Campsite is a gorgeous spot and is walkable to The Cock Inn. Run by Karen and Steve, it is animmaculate site with clean facilities and really well laid out pitches.
Lower Dairy Farm in Little Horkesley is a treasure of a small farm shop where low input, slow grown, grass fed beef is the Taylor family’s pride andjoy. The shop is open on a Drop In basis where you’ll also find traditionally reared pork, wet walnuts, free range eggs and homemade preserves, chutneys,jams and pickles using fruit from the garden and hedgerows. All the produce is organically grown without the use of artificial fertilisers, chemicals or pesticides.
SUMMER FAVOURITE: A few miles down the road in Boxted you’ll find McLauchlans Pick Your Own Fruit Farm where you can pick strawberries, gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries and sweetcorn from June through to September.Staff will be on hand to direct you to the best areas to pick, you don’t need any special equipment and containers suitable for all crops are available in the shop, or you’re welcome to bring your own.
Throughout the rest of the year the small farm shop is open and stocks local produce including potatoes from a neighbouring village and cream from a local dairy. Freshly frozen fruit is also available throughout the year.
At Prettyfields Vineyard in neighbouring Ardleigh, owner Tom Bunting and his team have a real passion for vines, harnessing the Essex climate to grow the finest grapes. The Crate is the on site shop selling selected English wines, craft ales and other artisan products and you can also sit and enjoy coffee & cake, take a stroll through the vineyard or discover the Essex Wine Story on a vineyard tour and tasting.
Dedham Vale Vineyard is set in 40 acres of vines, woods and pasture on the edge of the Dedham Vale with the vineyard literally based on the Essex Way allowing visitors the chance to enjoy walks through the surrounding countryside. Vineyard tours and tastings are held throughout the year. For further information visit the website.
HIDDEN GEM: The Blue Owl Pottery Painting Café is located on the A134 at Great Horkesley and is a lovely place to visit with good coffee, freshly baked cakes and a really warm welcome and, if you fancy your hand at some ceramic painting there is an amazing selection of pottery to choose from and lots of help and guidance on hand!
Local Food & Drink Experience;Let local expert and chef bring the tastes of Dedham Vale to you. The Cooking Experience will bring a special culinary feast to you whilst you ate staying inthe area. More details on www.thecookingexperience.co.uk
Pebmarsh, Lamarsh, Wormingford, Bures and Sudbury
Following the River Stour as it tracks down towards Sudbury lies a surprisingly undulating valley opening up around hidden corners to provide stunning snapshots of the Stour in all its simple glory.
The River Stour provides the perfect backdrop for this relatively unknown, hidden gem of a valley. An abundance of walking trails criss cross this area and mapped within this are some of the best local farm shops, local producers, pubs and restaurants giving so many reasons for visitors to stay longer and explore further.
The grazing landscape of the Stour Valley has meant a number of high-class local livestock farms have been established over many years. At Broomhill’s Farm in Pebmarsh, visitors are able to purchase fresh meat direct from the farm. They have designated days where fresh beef or lamb is available and pre-orders can also be arranged.
Six miles along the valley you’ll find Collett’s Farm tucked away down a long track in the village of Wormingford. Sophie and Tim farm a small herd of Longhorns and Jersey cows as well as pigs and in their small farm shop you’ll find fresh cuts of beef, sausages, bacon, raw milk, homemade fudge and freshly baked pies.
Spencer’s Farm Shop and café in Wickham St. Paul, just off the A131 between Halstead and Sudbury, offers a variety of produce grown on the farm along with a wide range of products from local suppliers. There is also a large enclosed play area for children and a small animal farm, with goats and chickens.
TOP TIP: For the best of local produce two monthly farmers markets take place in the area, offering a high-quality range of produce. Bures Farmers Market isheld on the second Saturday of each month on Bures Common and Sudbury Farmers Market is held on the last Friday of each month in St Peters on Market Hill, Sudbury.
The Forager’s Retreat in Pebmarsh is run by Carl and Beth Shillingford. Located in a beautiful old barn and furnished in a quirky, eclectic style this restaurant/bar/deli and café is open six days a week (closed Mondays) serving a fixed menu of seasonal, hyper local produce including a range of foraged ingredients from surrounding woodland. The Foragers Retreat also offers a range of walks and workshops for real foodie fans including Wellie Walks and Mushroom Foraging for the wholefamily.
HIGHLIGHT: Look out for the chef’s weekly hot pot – a seasonal stew or tagine that is available to eat at the bar with a hunk of local bread.
For those who want to match their food with a walk in the Dedham Vale then there are some excellent local pubs that offer great menus. If you are kayaking or canoeing from Sudbury then you should stop off at the Henny Swan and enjoy lunch outside on the river bank. The views across the valley are stunning and the food is great too!
SUMMER OFFER: The Henny Swan offers boat hire from its mooring on the river. The view from the water really does offer a different perspective and is a truly unforgettable way of seeing the Stour in all its natural beauty.
HIDDEN GEM: A couple of miles upstream is the Lamarsh Lion, a community pub restored to its former glory just a couple of years ago that offers plenty of outside seating with expansive views up the valley towards Sudbury and beyond.
The Thatcher’s Arms in Mount Bures is in the heart of the community and the Sunday Roasts have gained themselves a fabulous reputation whilst The Bulmer Fox has recently been taken over and is now thriving and look out for the Crown at Wormingford too, another well located pub in the heart of the community that offers a fine range of menus for every visitor.
Finally The Bell in Castle Hedingham is a traditional old pub crammed full of nooks and crannies and is the perfect winter retreat with welcoming fires and really good craft ales plus make a date with TenSheds Bakery who sell their freshly baked sourdoughs at the pub every Friday evening.
To provide visitor information and inspiration, a series of ‘Visit Stour Valley’ podcasts has been produced.
Episode 2 – Food and Producers in the Stour Valley explores the culinary delights the valley has to offer. We hear from food producers and sellers who trade at local farmers markets and eating establishments, about where visitors can go to enjoy eating the local produce.