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The village of Stratford St Mary in Suffolk lies within the Dedham Vale, which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The village has a natural boundary with Essex to the west in the form of the River Stour, and although the majority of the built up area of the village lies to the west of the A12, the Parish is quite extensive and reaches east across the fields to Dedham and north to B1068 road to Higham.
Much of the built up area of the village envelope are within a conservation area.
The Parish has many miles of footpaths for walkers to enjoy. These cover varied terrain from lanes, open fields, and riverside walks to village paths. The footpaths are signposted where they leave metalled highways and are waymarked where suitable, with yellow arrow markers.
Stratford St Mary has two important county paths which pass through the Parish, these being The Essex Way and The Stour Valley Path, both of which may be accessed at the Weir.
The River Stour was one of England's earliest navigable waterways dating back to 1705. Along its length were several locks that were needed to transport cargo by barge up and down river. One of these was built at Stratford St Mary at the end of the island, up river from the the old mill site. This has now been restored by the River Stour Trust and is accessible via the new footbridge at the weir.
It is said that the inspiration for the book ‘Tarka the Otter' was gained after the author spotted an otter frolicking in the Stour at Stratford St Mary. Indeed, otters can be spotted today, from the River Garden in Lower Street and on the river stretch between the restored lock and the weir.
Fishing permits for the section of river between the Weir and the River Garden are available at the Post Office or can be purchased in advance, online ( here ) or by calling 0344 800 5386.
Anyone wishing to use a rowing boat, canoe or paddleboard on the river, needs to display a current licence from the Environment Agency on the boat or be able to demonstrate current membership of British Canoing or other approved body.