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Dedham Vale: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Dedham Vale Stour Valley AONB

We are very fortunate to have not one but two of Englands 33 AONB’s right on our doorstep. Lots of rambling meadows, rolling fields and abundant open marshland, many of which are recognised the world over as ‘Constable Country’ with nearby Flatford and Dedham, arguably being the jewel in the crown of this beautiful area.

The Dedham Vale and Stour Valley sits on the Suffolk/ Essex border. The gentle River Stour (so good we named a barn after it) and its hedged water meadows, copses and riverbank willows, form a landscape, widely thought to represent the best of the farmed English countryside.

There’s lots of water activities in the area from Dedham and Flatford and also the restored Stour Lighter (barge) that operates from Sudbury. Rowing boat hire is available from Dedham Boathouse or Flatford, they use different operators so it’s a ‘there and back’ thing instead a one way hire.

‘Constable Country’ is part of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) – a national landscape designation and part of the protected landscapes family, along with National Parks.

Similarly, we have the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB, which we have written a separate post about. You can also find more information on the Suffolk Coast and Heaths website, including some great downloadable walks (called Explorer guides) for all of the main visitor destinations such as Snape, Aldeburgh, and Walberswick. This AONB covers from Kessingland down to the Shotley peninsula, and all of the Heritage Coast.

If there’s one thing that makes locally sourced dishes even tastier, it’s the knowledge that you’re supporting nearby farmers and dining sustainability. At Hall Farm you’ll be able to do just this as the destination is renowned for sourcing its meat, vegetables, cheeses and all of its artisanal products from businesses which operate in Suffolk. The building itself is something of a sustainable innovation, too. Beginning life as a cattle byre, the cafe was transformed into the welcoming and rustic environment it is today by a team who clearly understand the value in having somewhere cosy and comfortable to lunch in when feeling a little peckish in the Suffolk countryside.

Open for breakfast and lunch, Hall Farm offers a wide selection of coffees, light bites and a three course lunch that can be browsed and booked over on their website. Thanks to its location in the heart of the Dedham Vale, you can also be assured of dining with a view – remember, these are surroundings that have earned Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status!

In addition to providing a comprehensive view of their lunch menu, the Hall Farm website also provides regular updates regarding their rotating selection of specials and what’s coming up on their seasonal menus. Whilst we might suggest you prepare to have your appetite fully worked up, it is certainly advisable to check their website and inquire about their availability before making the trip down to Hall Farm.

As if all of the delectable treats and three course lunch options didn’t make the destination attractive enough, Hall Farm also regularly hosts seasonal events and activities. Ranging from pumpkin carving around Halloween to wreath-making in December. No matter what time you visit in the year, it’s also possible to join a farm tour that provides an interactive and enjoyable insight into life at Hall Farm.

When the weather permits, there is ample outdoor seating for visitors to make use of when enjoying their meals out in the sunshine. A gentle reminder that only food purchased from the cafe can be enjoyed on the picnic tables surrounding Hall Farm, so make sure to keep this in mind if you’re planning to take a walk along the Farm Trail and imagine yourself getting a little peckish along the way.  

Ultimately, Dedham Hall Farm Shop and Cafe is an incredible spot to stop off at when out and about exploring everything that Suffolk has to offer. Committed to serving up sustainably sourced and mouth-watering dishes, there’s really nothing quite like this hidden gem when you want a hearty breakfast, a lite bite with a coffee, or a three course lunch whilst looking out across constable country. Farm Hall is also a brilliant spot if you’re looking to bring back some treats back with you; from cheeses to cured meats and preserves, you really are spoilt for choice!

Last Updated on April 25, 2023 by Ollie Pearson