Are you an art lover, a fan of the countryside, feel at home on the water or just looking for a new place to explore this summer? Look no further than the picture-perfect location of Constable Country.
Constable Country spans Dedham Vale, Stour Valley, Flatford, Stratford St Mary, Sudbury and Stoke by Nayland. The former are classed as areas of outstanding natural beauty and are guaranteed to take your breath away.
Stepping foot into this area of the East of England, you’ll quickly appreciate why John Constable, the landscape painter born here in 1778, had such a passion for the area and used it as inspiration for his paintings.
So where should you begin?
Set off early and walk the Painter’s Trail, a 60km route through west Suffolk to find the exact viewpoints where Constable and Tom Gainsborough, a fellow painter, created their art. The route, accessible by bike or on foot, is a mesmerising journey through meadows, woodland and river banks.
Pack up your camera, your easel and brushes, your sketch pad and a hearty picnic as you will be spoilt for choice of where to stop and take in the scenery.
Prefer to be on the water? You can book a guided canoe tour. Departing from the historic market town of Sudbury, a local guide will navigate you through the riverbanks, to where the river meets the sea. One and two-day tours are available from £75 per day per adult and £37.50 for children. Availability and bookings can be made at www.riverstourboating.co.uk/.
Where to stay in Constable Country?
With so much to see, maybe you’ll want to plan a weekend break. Whether you prefer camping at the heart of nature or fancy a more salubrious break, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Why not mix the two and try glamping, the modern answer to camping with a few more home comforts and great for couples and families.
Local sites include Alde Garden, Hidden Meadows and Gypsy Hollow, offering Mongolian yurts, giant safari tents, tepees and even refurbished gypsy trailers for you to bed down in the for the night. Find out more at www.campsites.co.uk/search/glamping-in-suffolk and set up your home from home and sleep under the stars.
Restaurants to eat & drink in Constable Country
There is plenty of choice, from cafes and pubs to upmarket restaurants. The Boathouse nestled in Dedham offers an affordable range of menus from a la carte, afternoon tea and row and dine, priced at £25.95 per person, where you can hire a boat for two hours and return for your evening meal. www.dedhamboathouse.com.
Special celebration? Look no further than The Haywain on the outskirts of Constable Country in the village of Little Bromley. It is open for dinner only between 7pm and 9.30pm by reservation only and a menu using only locally sourced products developed by leading chefs. Lazy Sunday brunch is also available between 9am and 1pm on Sundays. www.thehaywainrestaurant.com/.
And if you follow a vegan diet you’ll be spoilt for choice too with vegan eateries such as Cradle Café in Sudbury (www.cradlefoods.co.uk) and The Red Lion in Great Bricett (www.vegredlion.co.uk/menu).
What’s on in Essex?
Sudbury Farmers Market takes on the last Friday of every month at St Peter’s church offering a fine display of local produce, crafts and delicacies. More information at www.suffolkmarketevents.co.uk.
What are you waiting for?