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Member#: 6644
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Registered: 27-05-2007
Diary Entries: 1767

2nd February 2019
Hiking - Walking: Flatford to Manningtree
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Weather: sunny periods
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Distance Covered: 7 miles (Nautical Miles - unless stated otherwise)

Saturday 2nd February - walk ***** – Flatford to Manningtree – sunny periods.

As we had been invited out for a meal at our friends Peter and Gill Cutts in Hadleigh we decided to make the most of the day and go for a walk at Flatford. We usually go to Dedham and walk the Stour from there as parking is cheaper but we have done that several times so headed for Constable Country. On approaching the National Trust carpark at the end of the lane to Flatford we realised why we go to Dedham as it’s £4 to park! So, we continued along the narrow one-way lane and found a small lay-by at the top of a hill offering stunning views down to the Stour and Dedham beyond:) Mag puts on her funky wellies while I wait for the GPS to start before setting off at midday, walking down the hill to the wooden footbridge that crosses the river. We then follow the beautiful willow lined Stour past pike anglers and even a couple in a canoe paddling upriver! You then reach Flatford bridge made famous by artist John Constable with its thatched cottages and ducks looking for an easy meal as this is a very popular spot:) There was even Long tailed tits in the tree above a family sitting on a picnic bench by the bridge:) I used to come here a lot as a lad with school mate, Michael Knights, fishing but that seems like a lifetime ago! Then we continued downstream past the mill with its swirling pool to the large but disused sluice that actually marks the Suffolk/Essex border. Entering Essex, we follow a well-made path towards Manningtree, this would be a great route to bike in the spring when things have dried out a little! The river splits into two here, the fresh water section which comes out at Cattawade and the tidal section coming out at Manningtree. We followed the tidal section and the footpath again spilt into two, the hardcore route to Manningtree railway station or the muddy path along the river wall. We chose the muddy route eventually coming out by the large sluice at Manningtree passing several noisy geese grazing in the fields and yet more Long Tailed Tits but this time we were treated to them close up and very pretty they are too. We crossed the busy road walked under the main Norwich/London railway line and found a place by a small sluice for our small snack, a bag of crisps! With the tide low there was plenty of mud and we spotted a single Avocet, swans, godwits, redshanks and lapwings. We then walked to Manningtree station picking up the good path again, this started as a farm lane and we soon saw two muntjac deer. Back at Flatford bridge we had a look in the little thatched cottage set up like olden days, through the nice café with some top looking cake to the well-known Willy Lotts Cottage past the impressive mill. There was then a footpath up the hill leading back to the van where a very friendly robin nearly hopped on Mags foot, we also saw some cool sheep with some top horns! We had already walked much further than we expected and were a little late for our dinner date, but Peter rang and we told him we were a little on the drag and were now leaving! It had been a top walk, the furthest we had done in ages, 7 miles being out for 3 hours:) We then had a top meal and catch up with the Cutts’ looking at some nice pics on Peter’s Apple computer:)



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