This is part of my training for a charity walk in August. It’s a beautiful walk, perhaps not for the fainthearted but doable with plenty of snack breaks, especially on a long summer’s day. There are waymarks as it’s part of a national trail but you definitely need a proper map as it’s easy to take the wrong path (as I found out the first time I did it oops!). GPS is always helpful if you need to confirm your location but phone reception is intermittent.
In dry weather, trainers might be ok but comfortable walking boots probably best. There are a few pubs along the way where you can get food & drink if needed but some of the walk is actually quite remote. There are areas where the path is a bit overgrown, so expect a few brambles & nettles! Some areas could get very muddy if there’s been lots of rain.
Manningtree to Stratford St Mary
When you come out of Manningtree station, veer to the right & you’ll see a signpost taking you on to the start of the walk. Technically you’re on St Edmund’s way here for the first mile, the two paths merge for most of the walk.
Once on a dirt path, there’s a point where you meet a ‘T-junction’ & there’s no waymark. Go left here & the path will take you alongside one of the branches of the river.
The path was a bit overgrown here for a stretch but once you get to the weir, it’s easy walking now onto Flatford mill. You stay on the left side of the river & head through the little gate towards Dedham. About half a mile along the river, you need to cross over the bridge so the river is now on your left. The path takes you to Dedham bridge.
When you reach the bridge, go left (over the bridge) & the path continues alongside the river towards Stratford St Mary.
You can hear the faint sound of the A12. The path isn’t particularly well-defined but follow the river, you’re aiming for Stratford bridge, & there’s a tunnel to the right of it which takes you under the A12 & on towards Stratford St Mary.
After the bridge you turn right along the road & walk past the ‘The Black horse pub’. Shortly after this, you’ll see a red life bouy on your left. The path takes you over a beautiful little bridge & back out into fields where the river is to your right.
Stratford St Mary to Nayland
You follow the path with the river to your right for about a mile until you reach a small road which takes you down to the right & over a bridge. It’s here where you start to move away from the river. Keep to your left however for about 1/3 of a mile where you’ll turn left (the waymark is hidden in the hedge) up a track which takes you to the B1068.
Cross over the road & walk to your left & there’s a well defined grassy track on the right which takes you gently upwards into the fields. If you look to your left, you can just about see Stoke by Nayland church on the horizon. Ultimately this is where you’re headed.
There’s a nice peaceful ‘snack stop’ when you get to top of Braddick’s hill!
It’s just over a mile from the B1068 to Hudsons lane which is a single track road. The path carrys straight over but the waymark points right along Hudsons lane, which is correct but it’s only a few paces & you need to find the path again on your left, which is on the right side of the hedge!!!
A short distance to the end of the field, you cross over another track (Londis lane) & on through trees past a farm. Just outside Stoke by Nayland, St Edmunds way & the Stour valley path diverge.
Follow the Stour valley path to the left through the field. There are two options here, either go up the field to eventually meet the B1068 or there’s a gate at the bottom of the field which takes you on to Scotland st where you turn left & it takes you to the crossroads & The Angel Inn. (I would say that although I popped in here & bought a bottle of appletiser which was such a treat on a very hot day, The Angel Inn is more of a fine dining establishment than a walkers pub!)
The path continues on the left side of the Angel Inn around the bend to Stoke by Nayland church. It takes you through the churchyard & on to a small road where you turn right. A very short distance & you’ll see a waymark to your left which takes you back into the fields.
You wind through beautiful wooded areas eventually onto a single track road. As the road starts to turn to the left look out for the path on your right. (Again, it’s easy to miss!)
1/4 of a mile on, look out for some sweet little steps in the hedge leading to a stile which takes you into a field. Here you need to go diagonally up across the field which will take you to another gate into the next field. Straight across again to the hedge which you follow down through another wooden gate to the bottom of the valley.
There’s an iron gate at the bottom which looks like the most obvious path but you’ll find the waymark is to the right of this, hidden in the hedge! Once you get on to this, the route down into Nayland is easy.
There’s another nice pub here which has picnic tables by the river.
As you come out of Nayland, you cross over a largish bridge. On your right are some steep steps down to the river edge. It’s lovely now to be back beside the river. As you head up river you pass a spectacular weir. There are swans on the river & sheep ion the field. Sheer bliss!
All too soon however you find yourself colliding with the A134. You have to cross the road & head towards Naggs corner. If you turn left here, you’ll see the waymarks taking you to the final stretch of the walk.
Nayland to Bures
The last stretch of the walk is more remote & peaceful. It undulates through farmland & wooded areas. The first mile or so after the A134 is easy to navigate. Once you reach a small road, look out for the track through Malting farm.
As you reach the bottom of the valley, there’s a stile (sigh…from here on there’s lots of stiles & your legs start to feel a little tired). You turn to the right. When you see a large pond, head towards it but the path is actually on the left hand side of the hedge. There are waymarks there but they’re tucked away. Continue on & you’ll hit the tarmac track, (Garnons chase) turn left which takes you into Wormingford.
Once in Wormingford, the path actually continues through the church (it’s not obvious) but you’ll see the waymark quite quickly which takes you through the trees. It’s now only a couple of miles to Bures.