Walking in the footsteps of Constable

Walking trail

Explore the picturesque Stour Valley and Dedham Vale on this relaxing walk with the National Trust, visiting the area made famous by the 18th-century paintings of John Constable, England’s foremost landscape artist of the time. See Flatford Mill, Willy Lott's House, the site of The Hay Wain painting, and visit the Village of Dedham, where Constable used to go to school.

Enjoy panoramic views on a walk through history

John Constable painted many idyllic views of the area in his famous six-foot canvasses, scenes which remain easily recognizable today. In a letter to his close friend, John Fisher, John Constable’s description of the Dedham Vale, said 'The sound of water escaping from Mill dams... Willows, Old rotten Banks, slimy posts, & brickwork. I love such things... As long as I do paint I shall never cease to paint such Places......'


Map route for Flatford and Constable country walk


Manningtree Station, grid ref: TM093322


Leave Manningtree station exit and descend ramp to the right. The footpath starts from the end of the ramp in the car par. After leaving the car park, turn right along a track, then right again under a railway bridge. Follow path until you reach the river and turn left along a stream-side path taking you through the Cattawade Marshes.

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View of Cattawade marshes near Flatford.


Walk behind Fifty-six Gates, and follow the path on the bank to the hamlet of Flatford.

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Fifty Six Gates - an original flood defence


You can take a short detour to see Flatford Mill, Willy Lott's House and the site of The Hay Wain painting. You can then return to Manningtree by the same route or continue on to Dedham.

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Willy Lott's House as seen in the Hay Wain


Leave Flatford by walking from Bridge Cottage towards the RSPB wildlife garden. Go up the steps on your left and follow the path to the car park. Turn left at the top of the car park and after 110yd (100m) take the footpath running parallel to the road.


Turn left into Fen Lane.

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Dedham Vale Panoramic views


Shortly after crossing a bridge, turn right along a tree-lined footpath. Cross riverside meadows, until you reach a bridge at Dedham.

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The River Stour at Dedham


Leave the village on a footpath after the drive leading to Dedham Hall. Follow the path to Flatford, bearing left at a National Trust sign to Dedham Hall Farm.

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Dedham Hall on the Flatford and Constable Country walk


The river leads back to Bridge Cottage across water meadows. A kissing gate marks the site of an old stile featured in another Constable painting, 'The Leaping Horse'. Now retrace your path back to Manningtree Station.


Manningtree Station, grid ref: TM093322

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Walking in the footsteps of Constable


4 miles (6.4km) return from Manningtree to Flatford. Optional loop to Dedham adds another 3 miles (4.8km). Generally flat grass and gravel paths with some moderate slopes. Can be muddy after wet weather - take care when walking on riverside sections of the route.

Dogs welcome on leads please.

Walking in the footsteps of Constable

Contact us

Walking in the footsteps of Constable

How to get here

Flatford, Suffolk
By train

Manningtree (London Liverpool Street to Ipswich line).

By road

Off A137 Harwich to Ipswich road. Car park at Manningtree station, Flatford and Dedham.

By foot

Along Station Road (B1352) from Manningtree Town Centre.

By bus

Services to Manningtree station and Dedham from Colchester and Ipswich.

By bicycle

The Painter’s Trail cycle route passes through Stour Valley to Manningtree station.

Walking in the footsteps of Constable

Facilities and access

  • Toilets at Manningtree Station, Flatford and Dedham villages
  • National Trust riverside tea-room and shop at Flatford, other shops and pubs at Dedham
  • Exhibition on Constable at Flatford Bridge Cottage
  • Dogs welcome on leads