The River Stour
This article is sponsored by Anglian Waterways
The River Stour is a beautiful rural river that forms the majority of the county boundary between Suffolk and Essex. Continue reading to learn facts about the river and its history, and discover the great activities that can be enjoyed when visiting the Stour on a day out.
The name ‘Stour’ derives from the Celtic word ‘sturr
’ and translates to mean ‘strong’ – which is not surprising when you consider that the Stour is 47 miles (76km) long! It rises in eastern Cambridgeshire and passes to the east of Haverhill, through Cavendish
and the Dedham Vale, and finally joins the North Sea at Harwich.
The first settlement on the river in Suffolk was at Great Bradley, where there has been a recorded presence for over 5,000 years. The Stour was one of the country's earliest statutory navigations and was in continuous use by commercial traffic for over 200 years.
John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough have both depicted famously the Stour as a working river in their artwork. Constable's connection with the area is deep and immense - as his father was the local miller - and this is evident in such works as ‘The Stour Valley and Dedham Church
For more information, please see our article on Gainsborough & Constable
In 1705 parliament passed an act of public navigation rights that established the Stour's lower reaches as a commercial waterway. This was between the town of Sudbury and Cattawade near Manningtree.
Since the decline of commercial activity early in the last century, people today partake in leisure activities on the river, such as boating. Most of the lock structures have disappeared and most of the river has largely reverted to a more natural river.
There are many activities that all the family can take part in on the River Stour and in the Valley, including - - Boating
- take you pick between power-boating, rowing, canoeing, sailing, or take an organised boat trip where each operator will stop at different spots along the Stour. Many of the trip boats also offer private hire for special occasions. Please see the Anglian Waterways link at the end of this article, plus River Stour Trust
for more information.Fishing
- if you crave peace and quiet alongside some excellent coarse fishing, the River Stour will not disappoint! The river is home to a broad range of species such as roach, chub, dace, bream, perch and pike, and all that you need to get started – such as a rod license and directions on the best fishing spots - are available from Anglian Waterways, link at the end of this article.Walking & Cycling
- one of the best way to see all that the Stour Valley has to offer is by foot or – for the more energetic amongst you – bike! You can take in the stunning views, hear the sounds of the river, observe nature in its natural habitat and see first-hand why so many artists took their inspiration from the area. The Stour Valley Path
is a 60 mile route that follows the valley sides of the River Stour through the delightful countryside of Suffolk, and can be taken by foot or bike. Please see the Anglian Waterways link, below.
There are plenty of attractions at the River Stour to keep you busy, such as Bridge Cottage at Flatford Mill
which is the location for John Constable's famous idyllic pastoral paintings, and visitors are invited to attend exhibitions held in the cottage. Please see Flatford Mill, Suffolk
You can enjoy an ice-cream or picnic by the Stour, plus there are a number of countryside pubs, restaurants, and cafes nearby.
There is also Clockhouse Farm Caravan Park, Sudbury
- a quiet, peaceful site enclosed by meadows and trees with views overlooking the Stour Valley.
You can even take a course! Flatford Mill - The Field Studies Council
is on the River Stour and offer short courses for individuals and families from digital photography, trees and tree identification, watercolour landscape techniques, a weekend on mills and milling... and many more!
Have you been on a day out to the River Stour? Please tell us all about it at firstname.lastname@example.org
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