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River Stour Trust hopes to boost tourist numbers with Constable Trail

PUBLISHED: 14:54 14 January 2019

The River Stour Trust runs a riverboat service from Flatford and hopes to add more this year  Picture: ANGELA GOODWIN

The River Stour Trust runs a riverboat service from Flatford and hopes to add more this year Picture: ANGELA GOODWIN

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New trail will take in 12 locations along the River Stour that appear in paintings by John Constable

Cllr Christopher Hudson and some of the River Stour Trust boat skippers, with the Trusts new trip boat Maria Constable. Picture: DENNIS WATTSCllr Christopher Hudson and some of the River Stour Trust boat skippers, with the Trusts new trip boat Maria Constable. Picture: DENNIS WATTS

Birdwatching trips by boat from Flatford is just one idea being floated by the charity that looks after much of the main waterway dividing Suffolk from Essex

The River Stour Trust is considering fresh ideas for its services from Flattord after being given permission to operate a second boat starting from Easter. Traditionally, the Trust has run a single boat from the location and only offered passengers a round-trip from Flatford to Dedham and back - but with an extra vessel it is looking at other options.

Vice president Emrhys Barrell said: “We are aiming to increase our boat trips at Flatford but it is very much dependent on volunteers. Possible ideas include bird watching trips and a water bus service from Flatford to Dedham.

READ MORE: New electric boat ‘Maria Constable’ joins the fleet along the River Stour

“We hope that by giving people the option of a single journey it will reduce the number of people driving into Dedham, and reduce the traffic on the road, which gets very heavy in the summer.”

Young Waltonians also known as Stratford Mill by John Constable © The National GalleryYoung Waltonians also known as Stratford Mill by John Constable © The National Gallery

Untouched

The arrival of the Trust’s new electric boat was made possible by a generous donation of £6,000 from county councillor Christopher Hudson, who gave the money from his locality budget. The new vessel has been named the Marie Constable - after the wife of renowned Suffolk artist John Constable whose paintings of bucolic scenes along the River Stour have made this location known to people around the world.

And it is the artist who is central to the Trust’s other main ambition for 2019.

This summer, the organisation is hopeful of launching what it is calling The Constable Trail - a guided trail along the River Stour that takes in the sites of 12 of Constable’s works including The Leaping Horse, The Young Waltonians and, of course, The Haywain.

Mr Barrell said many of the locations of these masterpieces remain almost untouched from the time two centuries ago when the young John Constable captured their enduring images on canvas.

The Stour near FlatfordThe Stour near Flatford

More tourists

He said: “The idea is that people can travel the trail by river, either in their own canoe or rowing boat, or on one of the Trust’s trip boats. They can also walk it using public paths.

“At each stage you can stop and stand at exactly the same spot that Constable set up his easel to record the beautiful countryside of Suffolk and Essex and the people that lived and worked in it.”

The Trust is in the process of producing a leaflet that will show the locations linked by footpaths and hopes that it will encourage more tourists to visit the area for longer.

“At the moment visitors may just come to Flatford but we hope the Constable Trail will encourage them to stay in the area for the whole day and explore further.”

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