Dedham & Flatford Mill (4 times!) Walk

After last week’s walk extended over 6 miles, I decided to try for something longer this week and found a 7 mile walk on iFootpath. It started off well, but I was unable to follow the instructions completely which marred the end of the walk.

It started off fine, I parked the car and had a little road walking to go from the parking spot to the river where the proper walk began. This opened out onto a large RSPB nature reserve.

To the left of this river was a flood bank with a narrow path way and this was my route for about one and a half miles.

I stopped a few times to watch the wildlife and take photos. There were a lot of birds and cows and sheep in the fields on either side.

As I got to the end of the nature reserve the route took me through many fields of different types including one that ran right through a field of planted potatoes! I found this very odd! I could also start to see Dedham Church in the distance getting closer as I crossed each field.

The sun was heating up by this point and I was really starting the feel it. I had forgotten about a hat or suncream and I was a little concerned. I had to stop a rest a few times just to have a drink and try to cool off.

After this field I was taken into a little tunnel with small trees either side and then onto a road that led straight into Dedham high street. Finally I got to see the church up close that I had been viewing for a few miles!

I sat in the church and rested in one of the pews for a few minutes whilst admiring the carvings and the stained glass windows. There were quite a few people milling about.

I stayed in Dedham for a while. I had a look around the shops, got a recommendation for a good pub and enjoyed an ice cold coke in the beer garden whilst I had some lunch and read my kindle.

After about an hour I continued my walk onto Flatford. This was an easy walk that just followed the river. I was a bit jealous of the people who had hired boats and were enjoying the water! Lots of lovely views were to be had here and I sat under a tree for a while.

I have noticed that there seems to be some kind of trend of taking photos of feet. I don’t really understand it but I thought I’d give it a go. I’m none the wiser and it’s probably not a habit I’ll adopt!

Still don’t know why people take photos of their feet!

Shortly after this rest I arrived in Flatford which had a little craft shop, an ice cream hut, an RSPB nature garden, an exhibition of John Constable paintings and some nice historic buildings.

At this point though the power on my phone was draining fast. I wanted to spend a bit of time here looking around but decided to just keep moving. However, it was at this point that I became stuck with the route instructions.

Basically, upon leaving Flatford, I could not find the track that matched the description in the route. I had two options. I picked one and went for it. Along the way I still could not match up the instructions. After while I realised I was lost and decided that I should try to get back to Flatford and take the other track.

So I followed a circular route sign that I’d seen earlier and arrived back in Flatford for the second time. So this time, I took the other track… I walked for quite some time, and then sat for a rest looking up at a gentle hill…

By this time my phone had died, it was getting past the time I was wanting to be heading home and I was getting tired. I’d already done over 7 miles.

Then, as I gazed up the hill a flash of recognition struck! This was the hill that I’d walked up when I had taken the first track! I looked around and figured that if I was right and that was the same hill, then I would shortly come out onto the track that would lead me right back into Flatford. I really wanted to be wrong…

I was right 🙁

My heart sank as I came back into Flatford for the third time now. I didn’t know what to do as I had tried both the available tracks and my phone was now dead. I examined a map and it looked as though there was a road that headed east which was the direction I wanted to go in.

I figured that I must have missed something. My sense of direction is pretty bad so I might have done something wrong, rather than the instructions being wrong. What else could I do but try again? My only other option was turning around and go all the way back the way I came which would be at least another 5 miles!

So this time I set off again, using the second track but determined to find somewhere that I could turn off to the right. There wasn’t anywhere. So around again I went, back into Flatford for the 4th time and now wondering what on earth I was going to do.

I figured that I would head back to Dedham as that wasn’t far, then I’d find a phone and call somebody to come pick me up! By this time everything in Flatford was closed so there were no phones here.

As I went back to the bridge into Flatford I had another look around. There was a different path which was on the other side of the river just before entering Flatford. It was signposted Manningtree which I knew was where my car was. I decided to just try it and see where it went.

After only about 15 minutes the track emerged onto a field with a large concrete sluice running to my left. I recognised it! I had been on the other side of this field at the start of my walk. If I was right on this one, it would mean that if I crossed the field I’d end up back on the flood bank and I would be 2 miles from the car!

I was right again so finally I was on the way back! It was getting darker though and even though the sun had cooled off I was still extremely hot and now starting to get sore. So far today I had not actually experienced any soreness at all but now I could feel it in my lower back and my feet a little.

I got more and more tired and I felt like I was walking drunk. I began stumbling along the pathway and also started to get really hungry. Finally I reached the car! I charged my phone, rang my girlfriend and got her to pick up a chinese takeaway which was waiting for me when I got home!

Judging by the time I was walking for, and the breaks I took, I estimate I was walking for around 5 hours. I do around 2 miles per hour typically so this was probably about 10 miles! Again, much longer than I had anticipated! But I don’t want to be that tired so I think next week I will aim for an 8 mile walk, and hopefully not get lost!

Dedham & Flatford Mill Flickr Album

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