Saturday, 21 July 2018

Wolf Tracks, the Dedham Vale

A simple beginning AKA
don`t you dare use the `R` word on me Sir!
or short and sweet

          A while ago ITV showed the 100 greatest walks in the UK, as I was watching the program I was mentally ticking off all the walks that I had already completed, there were the usual suspects Ben Nevis, Scafell, Helvellyn, Snowdon, but there were also some low level and close by (to me at least) walks in and around the Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Kent regions one of these walks was only 5 minutes away, so the question you`re probably asking yourself is why didn`t I get round to doing this walk earlier? simple answer, life just got in the way.
          Eventually I found myself with a day to spare so I decided to finally get round to doing this walk, at only 11 km long the walk should have taken me around 2 and half hours to complete as it was it took me nearly 3 with breaks, the walk itself starts at Manningtree railway station and follows paths through Dedham vale to Flatford and past the cottage where the Hey wain was painted.
         The walk started off on decent well maintained paths but soon turned into rough narrow tracks until reaching a section of river 
          The interesting thing about this walk is that for the most part you are actually following the St Edmunds way, which like this walk starts at Manningtree railway Station and goes all the way through Bury St Edmund`s to Brandon in Suffolk
          with this being a low level route and right next to the Stour you might expect to see the river at points along this journey and you would be right, although not an exclusive river side walk the vast majority does follow the river as it twist and turns and spreads out before finally heading into the estuary

the first stop I took was once I had reached Flatford mill now owned by the National Trust who not only look after the place but as is usual for them also set up a little cafe that will force you to remortgage your house for a bottle of water!
          It was while I was here that I heard one of the visitors to the area mutter under their breath while passing me "rambler", OH NO, no no no, you did not just call me a rambler, a rambler is a special type of person, I sir am a walker, we are different, for one we will not stand at a gate arguing with a farmer and his shotgun about the right of way that crosses his field that he now has a bull in and has closed off for the maximum permitted amount of time, we do not exclusively wear Berghaus and nothing else because my mate said it was the best and nothing else will do, nor sir nor do we wear leather hiking boot and woolly red socks every time we walk, we try different combinations for the prevailing conditions and we don`t have a map in a map case around our neck, we generally put it in our map pockets or the top of bags and only pull it out when necessary... well I would of said all this if I could have been bothered, anyway onwards the next half an hour or so was an uphill and down hill section and although not long was quite steep (for the area) until reaching the highest point of the walk overlooking Dedham vale and Dedham itself

          It was while I was here that I saw at least three kestrals hovering and hunting in the fields in front of me, following the path down and across a bridge led me onto some wider and well maintained footpaths leading through some woods and fields into Dedham itself
          At this point the walk took me through a familar setting, a few years ago I paddled the stour and came to the same place
this is the mill that I had to portage round just taken from the other side, the walk now went through Dedham village itself, which itself is a little bit of tourist attraction. a brief walk through the town lead me to a business centre where we once again picked up footpaths and followed them back down to the river, 
and followed it back through fields to Flatford and centre again, at parts of the river you can hire boats and row a small section between Flatford and Dedham and it was encouraging to see people make use of the river and its surroundings even if most of the time they ended up crashing into the banks! having reached Flatford there was nothing left but to head back along the initial path I took to get here back to the train station.
          this walk is easy enough for most people and although the time stated is just over two hours, it is short enough that you wouldn`t have to worry too much about this and just take it at your leisure and enjoy the surroundings.

taken from ITV`s Britian`s 100 favourite walks (number 77)

follow the link below to the website

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