Category: AONB

The Essex bank of River Stour estuary becomes part of AONB

 This week has seen England’s first extension to an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) in nearly 30 years .

The Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB has been expanded by about 38 sq km (14.6 sq miles) – almost a tenth of its size – to include the Stour Estuary, stretching from Manningtree to Harwich in Essex, and a tributary of the estuary called the Samford Valley. This means that both the Suffolk and Essex banks of the Stour estuary are now part of the AONB.

The map shows existing parts of the AONB in light pink, with the new additions in darker pink, taking in the Essex bank of the Stour, woodland at Freston and Samford Valley between East Bergholt, Brantham and Stutton.

The northern banks of the River Stour, in Suffolk, already had the designation and campaigners have pressed for it to be extended to Essex for decades. The expansion will enable businesses and tourist sites to promote the area as an AONB and access relevant grants.

David Wood, chairman of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB Partnership, said: “We are delighted that this order has been confirmed. The AONB partnership, made up of public private and third sector organisations, has had an aspiration to bring the benefits of the designation to a wider area for over 20 years. Locally we have always known that the area identified in the order was outstanding, and with this news we can be confident that the natural beauty of the area will be conserved and enhanced for future generations.”

Read more from BBC news website    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-suffolk-53308890

 

 

The Stour Valley Path is 25 years old!

Our blog post today comes from Alex Hewitt, the SVP 25th Anniversary Officer of the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project. 

We will be posting more about the Stour Valley Path in coming weeks.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Stour Valley Path, a long-distance walking route that stretches over 60 miles, through Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Essex. It closely follows the River Stour, from its source near Newmarket, to where it joins the estuary at Cattawade, near Manningtree. This meandering, tranquil route will take you through a landscape of gently rolling hills, woodlands, riverside pastures and over 20 picturesque towns and villages.

To mark this anniversary, two main initiatives are being launched. Firstly, the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley is redoubling its efforts to improve the quality of the footpath. More way-marker posts will be installed to help guide walkers along the route, along with more way-marker discs to ensure clear direction and help walkers feel more secure on their journey. Once bird nesting season has passed, more of the route will be cleared of vigorous up-growth and side-growth, that would otherwise hamper walkers on the path and reduce the experience of walking through the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley area.

Secondly, an initiative titled the “Stour Valley Path Passport” will be launched this summer. Walkers will be able to obtain the Passport, and use it to collect stamps from participating locations, whether that be a church, tea-room, or pub. This will encourage the walking of the length of the Stour Valley Path and reward those who complete the entire route, as they can claim a Certificate of Completion upon doing so. And should they finish the route in 2019, the year of the 25th anniversary, then some modest prizes will also be provided.

For more information about the Passport, please contact dedhamvale.project@suffolk.gov.uk or see http://www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org/stour-valley-path/

Alex Hewitt,Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project

Stour Valley Visitor Development Officers appointed

We are delighted to announce the recent appointment of two Visitor Development Officers for the Stour Valley, Oka Last and Katherine Davies. They will be supporting the promotion of the River Stour Festival and we look forward to working with them. Here they tell us about their new roles.

We have recently been recruited to deliver the LEADER funded ‘Improving the Stour Valley for Visitors’ project, and part of our role will be to support the River Stour Festival in developing and promoting their fantastic programme of activity throughout the valley. We are delighted to be on board, and have enjoyed meeting the rest of the festival committee and learning about the history and ambitions of the festival. We are going to be supporting the festival in 2019 by promoting the programme of events online, assisting with leaflet and poster distributions, attending events and hosting stands to further promote other festival events, and helping the committee with administrative tasks. We also hope to be able to help with securing funding or sponsorship to continue the festival next year, and help develop and coordinate another exciting programme of events and activities for 2020. We are looking forward to being involved in the delivery of such a fantastic festival in such a special place! We know that the events that the festival curates and promotes are very valuable to our overall aim, which is to attract visitors to the valley, and encourage them to stay around for a little while and enjoy the wonderful things that the area has to offer.

Oka Last & Katherine Davies Stour Valley Visitor Development Officers

Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project www. dedhamvalestourvalley.org

Confluent: River of Words

Our blog post today comes from Stuart Bowditch, sound recordist, who recently launched his project Confluent: River of Words. Read about his project and text installations here and be sure to listen to his podcast.

Confluent: River of Words

Text installation at the Granary Tearoom

I am a sound recordist, artist and musician and my main interests gravitate towards people and place. Through working on socially engaged project The River Runs Through Us with painter Ruth Philo in 2017, I grew to love the Stour Valley and recently moved to Sudbury to immerse myself in the area and hopefully work on some more projects exploring its long and rich history and beautiful landscape.

This area of outstanding natural beauty does however need a lot of management and care and there are a lot of people, organisations and resources that are dedicated to keeping the valley and surrounding areas a place that we can all enjoy. In the spring of 2018, The River Stour Trust’s 50th anniversary, I was lucky enough to secure funding from Dedham Vale AONB’s Sustainable Development Fund for a new project Confluent: River of Words, to record, document and share the voices of those people whose hard work helps to maintain, conserve and preserve this unique landscape, for us and future generations, but also for the myriad of flora and fauna that share it with us.

I met with nearly thirty people, each with their own unique perspective on the area and working in a specific area or patch of the valley. I have included a list below of everyone who I spoke to and am grateful to them all for their generosity, wisdom and time.



The conversations have been edited in to a series of podcasts on the topics of Partners and Collaboration, Natural Beauty, Volunteers and Habitat. Whilst listening back to the hours of footage I collected some of the phrases and statements that contributors had made, a list of trees and all of the dragon and damsel flies that can be spotted at Foxearth Meadows, and turned them in to three text installations that can be found on two of the River Stour Trust boats ‘Rosette’ and ‘Edwardian Lady’, and also in the Granary Tea Room in Sudbury. The text installations will be visible until the end of the summer season and the podcasts are online now at www.stuartbowditch.co.uk/confluent

Stuart Bowditch

Contributors: Robert Erith, Robert Baker,Tony Platt, Lesley Ford-Platt , Catherine Smith, Simon Amstutz, Emma Black, Martin Gosling, Brenda Gosling, Sally Bartrum, Nigel Chapman, Dave Dignum, Cat Burrows, Arthur Studd, Mark Prina, Will Akast, Ben Norrington, Adrian Walters

AONB Volunteers: William Ford, Bob Smith, Lorna McGain, Howard Leader, Will Eden, Peter McGain, David Dale, Ian Thompson, Steve Pritchard, Deena Harding

RST Volunteers: Jim Lunn, Paul Roberts,

Text contribution:Susannah Robirosa

Our Outstanding Landscape – now and the future

This blog post comes from Cathy Smith,  Communications, Funding & Development Officer of the Dedham Vale AONB and Stour Valley Project

 

The Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley is an outstanding place, and it has been nationally designated too, helping us recognise that it has many special qualities for us today and for future generations.

The landscape of the Stour Valley with its vibrant communities and rich agricultural history has inspired generations of artists, writers and painters. As well as these strong cultural connections, the valley has abundant wildlife living in the mosaic of habitats along the river valley. Large numbers of visitors are drawn to appreciate and enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the countryside and explore its rich historical associations.

The River Stour is the heart, and I’d say soul, of the area. The main river and its tributaries touch every part of the area, and although you can’t always see it, the water course is life giving and a rich focus of activity for people and wildlife. The Stour Valley Path is a 60-mile walking route that also runs the length of the river from source to estuary, and a hike or stroll along the route will show you all it’s many wonders. The River Stour Festival is another great example highlighting the variety of cultural and natural events and activities that enhance our experiences.

But we must also look to the future.

When Defra wrote their 25 Year Environment Plan (Jan 2018) they included an announcement of a Designated Landscape Review. This Review, of both National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), will report back to Michael Gove in 2019. 2019 is also the 70th Anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act. A fitting time to look once again at how your Essex & Suffolk AONBs are delivering local priorities too.

This week (20 October 2018) Defra began its public ‘Call for Evidence’. Everyone can – and should – submit comments to Defra, via their consultation pages, see their news report: www.gov.uk/government/news/public-to-have-say-on-new-national-parks. The deadline is Tuesday 18 December 2018.

Nationally there are common themes across all the designated landscapes – including wildlife, land management, agriculture and recreation. We also have local priorities that we will take to the Review Advisory Panel about at our face-to-face, and when we submit our response to the consultation.

Here in the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley the AONB team and its Partnership is already delivering against the 25YEP, and we have a thriving agriculture sector, a healthy rural economy, beautiful landscapes and rich habitats for wildlife. Looking forward, we have pressure from infrastructure and building developments, a keen interest in further enhancing biodiversity through countryside management and the work of our wonderful volunteers, and we strongly believe that supporting our community groups with advice and grants can deliver great benefits locally.

We hope you get out as much as possible to enjoy our outstanding landscape soon and that being in the landscape will help you think about how we can all support it – conserve and enhance it – for many more generations to come!

Cathy Smith