The Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley embraces one of our most cherished landscapes.
The characteristic lowland English landscape on the Suffolk-Essex border, made famous worldwide by artists, is still recognisable today as it was when painted by Constable and Gainsborough. The charm of the villages, fascinating local attractions and beauty of the surrounding countryside mean there’s no shortage of places to go and things to see.
Picturesque villages, rolling farmland, rivers, meadows, ancient woodlands and a wide variety of local wildlife combine to create what many describe as the traditional English lowland landscape. Because much of East Anglia’s traditional grasslands have already been drained and ploughed for arable farming, the hedgerows and wildflower meadows of the Dedham Vale AONB are among some of England’s most precious and vulnerable pastoral landscapes.
The designated area of the AONB is just 90 kilometres square and stretches upstream from Manningtree to within one mile of Bures. The landscape quality of the remainder of the Stour Valley is often as high and representations to extend the AONB continue.
With a population in the AONB of fewer than 10,000 this is still essentially a farming area, although the AONB now has a significant and growing proportion of residents commuting to Ipswich, Colchester and London. Tourism is localised, but forms an important part of the economy, while the River Stour is an important boating and angling water.