This is the new venue where members and potential members of the Ipswich Outdoor Group can read about recent events, share news that is relevant to group interests but not appropriate for group emails, write about group initiatives – anything from charity fund-raising to activism aimed at keeping our footpaths open – present opinion editorials on issues close to their hearts, post classified ads, cartoons, pictures or anything else that occurs. Unlike the old Newsletter, it will be updated as and when new material comes to hand and, as this is a work in progress, it will be formatted as we go along and get an idea of what is required. Feel free to offer suggestions if any occur to you.
For the moment, content is divided into three categories: reports of past doings; announcements about upcoming events or issues of note, whether IOG instigated or particularly related to IOG interests; and classifieds, where you can advertise items for sale, for rent, or wanted. Follow the links to the right to filter.
My pre-walk had checked out a slightly different route through the Rougham Hall estate, encountering horses, cows, long wet grass, waist-high nettles, and a (docile) bull. My fellow IOGers were spared these trials in favour of a short stretch of road with fast cars and no footpath. Having survived this, we entered Rougham Park along a curving driveway lined with splendid trees. A bridge allowed us to safely cross the A14, following which some participants were slightly concerned when I strode off in the opposite direction to our destination. This was of course intentional, to bring us to an avenue of lime trees leading to Rougham Church. The rain held off, and we even had a few glimpses of blue sky as we wended our way across the fields and through the woods towards Rushbrooke. Here we lunched in the church porch.
Some discussion ensued as to whether the dampness in the air constituted rain, but it had all but stopped before we had reached a conclusion. Our route took us through the whitewashed buildings of the village and north-westwards on a direct trajectory to Bury. Just as we were gaining in confidence that we would beat the rain, it started pouring down. We consoled ourselves with the thought that we only had half an hour’s walk to the pub, in contrast to the coast-to-coast walkers who had been enduring far worse. A few minutes later the rain stopped and we had just about dried out by the time we approached the centre of Bury through the Abbey grounds. One of our number decided to head straight to the station in an ambitious attempt to be back in Ipswich for the football match, but the remaining eight all enjoyed the hospitality at the Masons Arms.
Tree-lined path through Rougham Hall estate
Lime tree avenue leading to Rougham Church
What are you doing in my field?
Is that blue sky over Bury?
In the woods
Menacing clouds over Rushbrooke Church
Lunch in the porch, or is it the village lock-up?
Anyone for Hanky Panky? (that’s what they called the dessert)
Twenty members enjoyed a wonderful week on Arran over the recent late August Bank Holiday, organized by the tireless Paul and Clare Dickerson . The Dickersons worked very hard to give us an easy and enjoyable stay at the Youth Hostel in Lochranza, which is tucked away in the hills at the very top of Arran like a well-kept secret.
Sarah’s Goatfell Walk – Tuesday 29th August
Story and pics contributed by Ian McQueen
The Tuesday after the holiday was the highlight for me – a walk up Goatfell when 12 intrepid members were led by Sarah Shephard.
At 874 metres, Goatfell is only a “Corbett” (i.e., more than 2,500 ft but under 3,000) but its setting is breathtaking, forming, as it does, the crowning glory of a horseshoe stretching over several mountains linked by graceful ridges around Glen Sannox at the northern end of Arran.
“Right!” said Fred (Fred is Vicky and Justin Smith’s ten-year-old son, and the most intrepid climber amongst us). It wasn’t a piano (like in the ‘70s hit) he was trying to move; it was us lot and, although Justin did his best to curb the youngster’s desire to get to the top in five minutes, that lad really got us going and kept us smiling, y’know?!
We took the shortest route up from the village of Corrie, a path that began surprisingly with a winding stretch of tarmac. Soon, however, the forest appeared, with a track of well-made steps ascending through mountain ash, pines and heather fields; not tight packed but open and colourful. Then the views opened out and Arran’s wonderful position in the waters of the Firth of Clyde was revealed. Tantalising vistas over to the Ayrshire mainland and to the neighbouring islands of Great and Little Cumbrae and Bute helped as take our bearings. We saw Holy lsland peeping up above the village of Lamlash to the south.
“Ford!” said Fred. “Not!” said a voice at the back (probably Justin’s). “You have to get your feet wet for that.” We were now going along the valley bottom, approaching the hill proper, having left the forest behind. Brownish moorland, pierced by burns in spate from the previous days Bank Holiday rains, surrounded our path.
Alan Bourne started to cross over the central stream to our left, to follow the path up to the ridge of Meall Breac, which leads to Goatfell summit. We all clambered over and up.
Endless igneous boulders, clean, as if they’d been scrubbed to testify to the purity of the Presbyterian Scottish air, barred our way; but an excellent path threaded through them and an hour later we were having our sandwiches by the summit cairn, spoilt for choice as far as views were concerned!
On a clear day, you can see Northern Ireland from here; today, the bird sanctuary of Ailsa Craig was just sticking its rocky head up, over the parapet of the Atlantic to the south. All too soon it was back down again, but continuing along via the North Goatfell ridge, meeting the path we’d ascended in the morning to create a circle. We went around the back of the hill (where there was no path!) and slipped and slid down, then up and over to see the long familiar valley descending back to Brodick Castle and the sea. A lot of knees probably complained like mine, but Clare kindly leant me one of her walking poles, which I’ll probably be investing in ere long…
Fred was way ahead by now, with “perfect Paul”, as he aptly described him!
That night, back at the hostel, Miriam and helpers prepared a traditional Scottish meal, prefaced by yours truly spouting Burns’s Address to Something-or-Other. A mystified boy listened to my instructions. “Now, you’re a haggis-fed Rustic, and when I give the signal, you stick your knife into this big sausage…”
The IOG monthly social meeting is on Monday 1th September at 8.00 pm. As usual, it will be held in the upstairs lounge of the Thomas Wolsey pub in St Peter’s St, Ipswich – get yourself a drink downstairs and join us. See the monthly social meeting page for more details and a map.
Lou is taking over from Peter who is doing the coast to coast walk and the format will be casual. Bring some maps to we can discuss future walks – we need more for autumn!
There’ll be plenty of time to socialise after running through past and upcoming events and current issues of interest. Prospective new members are welcome to come along, ask questions and find out more about the IOG.
Wainright’s coast to coast walk (devised by renown fellwalker Alfred Wainwright) follows a long distance footpath that crosses northern England from the Irish to the North Seas, passing through three national parks in the course of its 192 miles: the Lakes District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors National Parks. Wainwright suggested doing the walk in twelve stages, and the route he outlines ends each day near some form of overnight accommodation.
Rachael has organised an IOG trip lasting a fortnight that is walking what the BBC has claimed is the second best walk in the world – and thirteen IOGers set off on Saturday 2nd September from Ipswich to take part. They spent Saturday night at Ennerdale Youth Hostel then drove down the next day to St Bees on the coast, to pick up the start of the trail.
For those of us who would have liked to join them but couldn’t – or would not have liked to join them but would like to follow their adventures – the Newsletter will be publishing a daily blog of their activities over the next fortnight – contributed, no doubt, by whoever can stay awake long enough to put together a report and send off maps and pics. And we’ll certainly understand if that is a bridge too far on occasion. Still, I, for one, can’t wait to hear what they get up to: an excellent opportunity to armchair (or deskchair) travel with a big bunch of friends on a truly gruelling adventure!
Bon voyage guys!
1. Sunday 3rd September: St Bees – Ennerdale Bridge – 13.8 miles
Contributed by Rachael and Toby.
The route started with a walk along the coast towards Whitehaven before turning inland through the villages of Moor Row and Cleator. The first climb of the route was up Dent 352m. Then we headed down into the valley beyond and along towards Ennerdale Bridge.
The thirteen brave IOG members doing the whole adventure, and two more along for the day, walked down to the beach, dipped their toes in the Irish sea, chose a pebble to take to the other side and set off north along St. Bees head. The weather was windy and threatening rain, and the sea looked grey and cold as we left, but we donned our waterproofs and carried on. There were plenty of fellow travellers on the way; we will no doubt see some of them again over the next two weeks.
At the north end of the cliffs, we turned inland and headed east, following country lanes and footpaths, dipping under railways used and disused until we came to the only major climb of the day, a hill on the western approach to Lakeland called ‘Dent’ – at 350 metres on a good day it provides views back to the coast and the mountains further east; sadly the wind and rain picked up and the hills were just vague shadows.
We didn’t linger long, and headed down from the tops to a pleasant winding valley of streams and fords that took us back towards Ennerdale. Our accommodation, Low Cock How Farm, is a bunk house in Cleator, just before Ennerdale, where we were shown into a comfy lounge with a warm fire to dry our boots and clothes. Dinner was a very tasty mushroom or veg wellington, followed by sticky toffee pudding. We may all end up putting on weight this trip…
Many thanks to our organiser Rachael for excellent navigation and planning and the delicious food she prepared for us.
2. Monday 4th September: Ennerdale Bridge to Honister Hause
Text contributed by Torben; pics. maps and 1st caption by Rachael
The route passes through Ennerdale Bridge and then follows along the south side of Ennerdale water. It then continues on through Ennerdale Forest past the remote Black Sail Hut hostel before climbing up the side of Liza Beck onto the plateau between Haystacks and Brandreth. A short distance down the old tramway it arrives at Honister Hause.
After a hearty breakfast, and the inquest into who had relocated Paul’s boots had closed, we set out in relatively dry weather into the remote Ennerdale Valley.
Today’s route took us along the southern shore of Ennerdale Water, then headed up the forest track past the hostel where we stayed on the first night and on towards Blacksail Hut, the now legendary YHA hostel that has to be booked over a year in advance. A pleasant lunch stop was taken overlooking the River Liza and the mountains lurking in the gathering mist. By the time we reached Blacksails the wind and rain convinced us that a cup of tea was good reason to take shelter in the ambiance of one of the smallest and most remote hostels in the British Isles.
Unfortunately we had to accept that Blacksail’s cosiness would not extend to a night’s stay and headed out into the howling wind and rain at the top of the valley.
A slow ascent up Loft Beck and a traverse around Grey Knott’s took us to the dismantled tramway for an old quarry and the welcome view down to the slate mine and Youth Hostel at Honister Hause. After flooding the lobby, bar area and drying room with soaking wet kit, the group has dried off and settled into a relaxing evening of drinks and board games with the hope of better weather tomorrow.
3. Tuesday 5 Sept – Honister to Grasmere – 10 miles
Words contributed by Pete; pics and 1st caption by Rachael.
From Honister Hause the route drops down into Borrowdale to Rosthwaite. From here it continues along Stonethwaite Valley past Eagle Crag, climbing gently up onto Greenup Edge. Weather permitting I would like to take the high-level route along the ridge over Calf Crag 537m, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag, 405m. From here there are great views. There is then a steep drop down into Grasmere.
The outside door from the porch finally banged shut behind them, and a quiet peace settled over Honister Hause. The young manager breathed a small sigh as he continued to towel off the breakfast juice glasses behind the reception bar. The group had arrived the previous night, utterly drenched, though in surprisingly high spirits, all things considered. He’d been rushed off his feet, with demands for towels, heating, food and the incessant drink orders. None of them seemed to appreciate the fact that there was an England match on. Still, he mused – it could be worse. Their leader had been inundated with the most mundane questions from each and every member of the party, many times over. He wouldn’t trade roles with her for any sort of money.
The group had headed back out into the murky gloom of a wet, sodden morning. The cascading waterfall at the rear was hidden by the mist, and they had been quickly swallowed up – the atmosphere damping their raucous chatter as soon as they headed down the road. He knew their route would take them down into Borrowdale. The running water down there was moving fast and they would have to climb along the path by the side of the river, even using the chain anchored into the stone at one point to help them clamber along.
If things stayed as wet as he knew they would, he guessed they might make it past the youth hostel but he’d lay money that they would hunker up in the tea shop in Rosthwaite for a hot drink. Oh, well, at least they could take some comfort from the little ‘home for children’s toys’ in the moss display that surprised most people. As the rain hammered against the window panes, he idly wondered if one of them might have been a rain god.
[Here I think Pete takes over in person from the imagined musings of the YHA employee – Ed.]
It was brightening up – I know this because Rachael told me so, several times. My waterproofs seemed to counter these statements, but she was quite insistent. Once we’d crested the top, we were surprised to find ourselves being given an advertising pitch from a hardworking National Trust man, covered in mud-stained overalls and surrounded by large stones. There were three of them who were toiling away as part of the worthwhile Fix the Fells (www.fixthefells.co.uk) project. We unfortunately had to decline their offer to muck in and shift some slabs, but we left them a donation in their charity box.
Soon after, when faced with the option of heading down into the valley, we opted instead for the hardcore route along Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and finally Helm Crag. I questioned the wisdom of this, but I was again reassured that it was totally worth it. We plodded along through the murk, watching for the occasional breaks which would give us a glimpse of an awesome world below. And then our patience was finally rewarded!
No, the weather didn’t lift. Instead a wail arose, followed by a loud slurp to disturb the quiet. All eyes turned to watch Paul go past his knee into the bog. Rachael was proved right again! Granted, we probably should have jumped to his assistance but Jayne, who was closest, was laughing so hard all she could get out was, “I think I’m going to wee!”
Paul’s hilarious sacrifice for team morale was much appreciated for the remainder of the slog and kept us all going, even as we charged down the steep slope into Grasmere.
4. Wednesday 6th September – Grasmere to Patterdale – 7 miles
Text contributed by Pete E. and Rachael, pics by Rachael
From Grasmere the route gradually climbs up along Great Tongue to Grisedale Hause and Grisedale Tarn and back down to Patterdale.
Today began, like most other IOG events, with a lengthy delay for faffing. In the end, people were losing boots, waterproofs, some standing inside waiting for the rest of the group who were, in turn, standing outside waiting for them and, in the midst of all this, Peter was viciously attacked by a savage wasp. Even an attempt to get the obligatory group photo was thrown into chaos, as Heather emerged and revealed she needed to stop at the co-op which was in the opposite direction to where we were headed.
We gave in and diverged before we even started – a new record. Heather and Ruth agreed to catch us up at Grisedale Hause later in the day.
The bulk of the group pressed on to the Great Tongue, which would prove to be as slippery and uninviting as the name suggests. We flipped a coin several times (until we all finally agreed what route each side represented) to choose the left route up. It seemed fairest to let the Queen (or her head, at least) make the decision for us, as getting the group to agree was probably a challenge none of us felt up to facing.
Then we slogged up a hill. A Big Hill. Like. Really. Big. I realise whilst you’re reading this, you’re thinking that this sounds like a big hill. I really cannot overstate it. It was actually a massive, huge hill. We dragged our way up, every man and woman for his or herself. We met up with the familiar faces of the other group, also walking the coast to coast path, that we’d encountered several times over the past few days. We swapped a few war stories on the way up, but by the time we reached the climb proper, most of the chatting had tailed off.
Eventually, we all staggered grimly up to Grisedale Hause, where we hunkered down for lunch and were delighted when Heather and Ruth arrived soon after.
It was to be a short reunion, however. We all skirted around Grisedale Tarn before reaching Brothers Parting which was to prove aptly named, as our group parted ways once more. We had already ruled out attempting Helvellyn, as the weather would have made sure the effort would not be rewarded. Instead, half our group followed Grisedale Beck straight down to Patterdale, whilst the hardiest and best of us (plus Toby who was dancing along with a day-sack) soldiered on to St Sunday Crag.
As we climbed steadily upwards we could see the other seven below us becoming smaller and smaller dots until they disappeared completely as we reached Deepdale Hause. The walk along the ridge was rather blowy; hats and waterproof covers blew off and we had to walk leaning into the wind to stay on our feet. The climb was worthwhile though; the views were great and the walk exhilarating.
We made it along the ridge to the summit of St Sunday Crag where we managed to get a self timer photo. Continuing on we were lucky to find a suitable sheltered spot for our second lunch break.
It was pretty slippery on the steep descent and many of us took a tumble on the way down.
From there it didn’t take long for us to catch up with everyone else at Patterdale Youth Hostel, to start our preparations for day five.
[Ed. there was a bit of a delay on the next two installments – out of internet contact.]
5. Thursday 7th September- Patterdale to Shap – 15 miles
Text contributed by Paul W., pics by Rachael.
From Patterdale the route climbs up past Angle Tarn towards High Street.
Highest point of the day: Kidsty Pike (792m), also the highest point of the walk. From the summit there is a continual steep descent to Haweswater.
Having descended the hill, we spent much of the afternoon walking the northern edge of the reservoir enjoying grey vistas across the lake.
A map welcomed us part way through the afternoon, confirming our location beside Haweswater. One of the group was determined that the map was the wrong way round, and spent some minutes trying to convince us of his hypothesis. His theory was greeted with puzzled looks but, undeterred, he refused to accept defeat!
Destination of the day: From Haweswater, we first reached Burnbanks and then went on to Shap.
Weather of the day: Wind and rain. More rain, and more wind. Oh, and more rain!
High point of the day: The climb up to Kidsty Pike was accompanied by strong winds and sheeting rain, making for an exhilarating ascent and adding to the group’s sense of adventure.
Slip of the day: A few slips were always likely on such a wet day, the most dramatic of which was missed by yours truly. However, the funniest was possibly Jayne’s. In a heap, she tried to right herself only to fall onto her side and slide into a hole. Weighed down by her pack, Jayne’s feeble attempts to get out of the hole and get up were accompanied by squeals of laughter, and a hand was raised in submission. Help was soon forthcoming.
Conversation of the day: Overheard snippet whilst waiting for team members not yet ready to leave. Discussing rucksacks, one individual mentioned to another that they didn’t like green rucksacks, to which the second responded that purple rucksacks were their favourite. No mention of technical specification, or similar. The individuals concerned shall be nameless and their gender kept a secret!
Low point of the day: Walking to the pub in the evening, after a wet day, getting soaked yet again. Not having donned waterproofs (being an idiot), made this group member a less than happy bunny. The British weather sometimes has a lot to answer for!
Meal of the day: After a long day, a pub meal in Shap proved very welcome. Tummies were suitably full and appetites sated!
Pot of the day: Six hardy adventurers found a pool table after the meal, and Torben & Rachael challenged Steve & Paul to the best of three. The shot of the day was, undoubtedly, Steve’s squaring up to the black ball with victory in sight. Brow creased in concentration and team honour at stake, Steve cued the white with aplomb to be rewarded with the sweet sound of the black ball plonking into the corner pocket. Unfortunately, the white ball proceeded to make exactly the same sound as it found the other corner pocket. Foul shot and frame over. What a shot!
Leader of the day (and everyday): Only one candidate for this one. Rachael continued to lead her trusting followers with patience and a ready smile to brighten an otherwise exclusively grey day. Her assertions regarding the wet stuff descending from the sky being liquid sunshine, rather than rain, were met mostly with disbelief, but her perpetual efforts to brighten the day were much appreciated!
Thought of the day: There are occasions when few pleasures rival a hot shower and dry feet!
[Ed. The following report came as I have uploaded it: apparently Rachael’s laptop is not to hand and David T-F’s phone battery is running out. Oh yes, and they are going to dinner in ten minutes. There is something pleasingly reminiscent of, say, Scott’s diary, about the handwritten note so rather than digitalising I will leave it up to readers to decipher … The pics followed a few days later.]
6. Friday 8th September – Shap to Kirkby Stephen – 20 miles
Words and Ravens Seat pic contributed by David T-F; map, elevation, remaining pics by Rachael
7. Saturday 9th September – Kirkby Stephen to Keld – 10 miles
Words, maps and pics contributed by Rachael.
Our plan for the morning was to set off at 8.30am but as usual a considerable amount of faffing meant we finally left the hostel at around 9.00am. We said our goodbyes to Ruth who had planned to finish at Kirkby Stephen.
The morning walk began, as expected, with some drizzle and cloud.
From Kirkby Stephen we followed a small winding road up past a quarry and onto the moor.
The climb up the grassy slopes of Hartley Fell was rather wet. We had to negotiate an underwater bridge on the way up the Nine Standards Rigg which at 622m was the highest part of the day.
The nine cairns suddenly appeared in a brief break in the cloud as we approached.
Soon after we left the summit a man appeared from the mist, a huge figure in a grey cape bellowing, “Is this the road to Keld?” in a strong American accent. Big John felt reassured by the fact we knew where we were heading and ended up joining us for the rest of the walk.
From the top the route headed across a very boggy section of moor. There are many reports of people falling into deep peat bog up to their waist here. Fortunately for us this has now been slabbed and although our feet ended up sinking into boot high water everyone made it across successfully and down to Whitsundale Beck where we stopped for lunch. By this point the sun had come out and the cloud had lifted.
It was a tricky winding route following the beck, with numerous awkward river crossings of adjoining streams. There were a few dodgy moments for people carefully balancing from rock to rock. At one point Paul was left perched on a boulder in the middle of the stream not knowing how to proceed. While some of us got our cameras out with expectations of a good photo, Heather passed over her poles to help him.
At the end of Whitsundale we came to Ravenseat farm, where we stopped for a cream tea. This is the home of Amanda Owen and her large family, the author of the book, “A year in the life of a Yorkshire Shepherdess” which Miriam has read.
From here fully refreshed it was just a gradual descent to Keld following the upper reaches of Swaledale to reach our accommodation.
The yurts provided a little bit of luxury for us. They had comfy beds and woodburning stoves and we were given a fantastic meal. But the highlight for me was spending the whole evening in the hot tub with views out across to the hills opposite.
8. Sunday 10th September – Keld to Fremington nr Reeth – 11.5 miles
Words contributed by Miriam; pics by Rachael.
Setting off in soft misty rain, we passed the official half way point of the walk in Keld village, encountering many other coast to coast individuals and groups; we had begun to recognize some familiar faces.
We climbed up past Crackpot Hall, the remains of a lead mine and Swinner Gill, enjoying the lush purple and greens of the hillsides.
Much was learnt about lead mining of old from Glen, another coast to coaster, whose friend had been injured falling into a river.
We settled down for lunch by the ruins of an old smelting mill during a sunny spell enjoying our various cereal bars; some even had the latest aptly named ‘Faffer’ bars.
Day 8 Walking tip: When reversing into an old mine shaft for a comfort break you’re advised to check its not already occupied by a fellow walker.
More rain soon got us moving again, following Hard Level Gill and Old Gang Beck, up over Novel Houses Hill, with stunning views of Swaledale, before descending into the pretty village of Reeth.
The group scattered to delight in either Yorkshire ice creams or the village shop, a source of many essential items such as maps and more Compeeds. With further rain, becoming heavier by the minute, we marched on to Fremington and our accommodation at The Dales Cycle Shop with Cake Cafe incorporated, offering unlimited access to cakes (with an honesty box).
They were still glowing from hosting the passing Tour de France in 2014. Evening saw us marching (the fastest so far to avoid the rain) back to Reeth to a tasty meal at the Buck Hotel.
9. Monday 11th September – Reeth to Brompton-on-Swale
Words contributed by Toby; pics by Torben
Breakfast at the Dales Cycle Centre was quickly and cheerfully provided by our host Stuart, and we gathered outside in the morning sun to continue our journey down Swaledale. Cautious optimism about the weather led some of the group to shed their jackets and don sunglasses…
We followed the Swale for a while, then turned to climb up the sides of the valley towards the villages of Marrick and Marske. The lower Swale is pasture land, and in contrast to the barren rubble left behind by lead mining that we had seen the day before, the walking was easy across grassy rolling hills.
Amongst the other walkers we met were our American friends from previous days, John and Vance, still keeping pace with us.
Lunch in the sunshine seemed like a good idea, so we had an early stop near some cliffs with a view of the river, and then followed the river to Richmond – a pretty market town with a ruined castle.
We had a quick stop there, some took the opportunity to shop for supplies or ice cream (or both); others had a look around the castle. But all too soon we were on our way out of town, and headed to Brompton. As we entered the Vale of York, the paths became flatter and we could see the North York Moors in the distance, and signs of a long military presence around Catterick that ranges from Roman forts to the modern day garrison. Roadworks on the A1 meant we had to follow a diversion but we got to Brompton and our bunkhouse before our feet gave out.
We were welcomed at the bunkhouse with tea and biscuits; the farm also had lots of dogs, ducks and old farming equipment on display as it is still a working enterprise.
The weather was better than we have experienced so far, and we were all very glad to arrive at our accommodation dry and warm for a change. After a pub dinner and a quick check of everyone’s horoscopes we called it a night.
10. Tuesday 12th September – Brompton-on-Swale to Osmotherly – 20 miles
Words contributed by Torben; maps and pics by Rachael
The dreaded transfer day across twenty miles of flatlands from Brompton-on-Swale beside the A1 to Osmotherley at the foot of the North York Moors started in glorious sunshine a record breaking 6 minutes behind schedule at 8.21am. After much back-slapping and safely negotiating the killer geese at the farm entrance we headed back out under the A1 in a 4-3-3 formation like a well oiled machine. (Heather had departed the night before for a C2C sabbatical on a two-day training course).
Unfortunately the back lanes of North Yorkshire proved quite busy with cars, tractors, horses, Lycra clad cyclists and a particularly focused DPD delivery driver who thought he was Colin McRae whilst crashing past us four times on roads, bridleways and footpaths – no terrain was off limits for this particular Mercedes Sprinter!
The fine weather and the allure of two planned lunch stops together with the crack of Rachael’s whip generated a good pace across the plains and we found ourselves on Danby-Whiske village green outside the White Swan before it had opened.
Once opened this highly specialised walkers pub, positioned two-thirds of the way along the coast to coast route offered us a wide range including blister plasters, coast to coast t-shirts and hats.
Beyond Danby-Whiske the fertile plains of North Yorkshire continued to offer more arable and livestock pasture that we thought would never end.
The monotony was broken when a frequently mentioned member of the group tangled himself in a kissing gate and had to resort to roping himself up and employing an ice axe to escape its clutches. Meanwhile Toby, the strategist, smoothly transitioned through the adjoining conventional gate. For the lucky onlookers the contrast between Toby’s joyous facial expression and the climber’s told the full story.
Another major obstacle lay ahead. The four- lane A19 at rush hour looked more like a game of frogger than part of a long distance walking route and stress levels rose as we realised that roadkill was a very real prospect. Fortunately thanks to some excellent preparation (some members of the group has opted for running shoes at the start of the walk) and the mercy of a lorry driver who employed a blocking strategy in the outside lane, the IOGers were released safely into the foothills of the North Yorkshire Moors.
A painful (don’t mention Miriam’s little toe!), slow ascent through Arncliffe Woods led us to the fringe of Osmotherley and on to the recently refurbished Cote Ghyll Hostel where check-in was interspersed with beer guzzling, sandwich ordering and the general relief of having made it across 21.5 miles of treacherous lowlands.
Our reward was a fine meal and free flowing beer at the Golden Lion in the beautiful stone village of Osmotherley where even a drenching on the way home from the pub didn’t dampen spirits.
In fact the A19 dice with death seemed to inspire a new level of empathy in Peter who found a toad in the road and promptly picked up the bemused amphibian and offering a kiss and a cuddle to Rachael before releasing it safely to the other side.
Deciding to celebrate a disappointingly massive birthday with a walk and a meal, I was blessed with the company of ten IOGers for the day. Meeting at Dunwich for a prompt 9.30am departure, we headed west beneath an unending blue canopy, basking in welcome sunshine.
It being my birthday, I knew my exceedingly rusty map reading skills would be forgiven (if not forgotten) and proceeded to lead everyone astray, geographically speaking! Intending to keep north of Westleton and veer towards Wenhaston, yours truly was a tad perturbed to be informed he’d found his way onto Dunwich Road. Oops. The error was, fortunately, soon corrected, and we wound our way north, back on track. With ‘a little help from my friends’, there were no further material directional mishaps. Fortunately!
Beautiful blue skies accompanied us as we made our way north to Wenhaston, followed the River Blyth east towards Walberswick, through Walberswick National Nature Reserve, and back to Dunwich through the forest. I know different people had varying favourite sections of the route, but mine was possibly heading east from Blythburgh, with delightfully wide vistas across the marshes. We also briefly inhabited, during the afternoon, a refreshing forest glade – and I assure you we were all much happier than we look in Ian’s photo!
After our 19 mile stroll, certain hardy souls ‘enjoyed’ a swim in the North Sea, whilst others of us (including the author) were tempted by ice creams and the like. The Ship proved to be a great place to end the day over a glass of wine and three tasty courses, surrounded by friends and regaled with humour and good company. Thanks to each of you able to join me for the day. Not sure if my birthday warranted a shindig or a wake, but turning sixty wasn’t half as bad as it might otherwise have been! However, from here on in, I fully intend to copy Benjamin Button!
Pics and text contributed by new member, Jenny Davidson; additional pics by Pete.
We’re sitting in our garden on a warm August evening, talking to Peter on the phone. His welcome to our enquiries about joining the group’s coming Saturday geocaching adventure is as kindly as the weather. The conversation strays through walking, cycling and of course geocaching, which we feel that we are competent at, though the scale of what we still have to learn will soon be revealed in the company of veterans. Peter emails instructions and an invitation to the event, which we confirm the next morning.
For anyone who doesn’t know about geocaching, it’s a framework for a nice walk, through unfamiliar places, while in search of amusing treasure, guided by a GPS-enabled smart phone or dedicated handset. This week’s adventure has the added bonus of a cave game, the sort where you see a dragon and a lamp in the corner and choose a strategy for accessing the tunnel behind. It’s a format which will be familiar to people who were using computers before the days of sophisticated graphics. With the aid of an application called Werigo, your handset triggers text descriptions of your cave location when you have arrived at predetermined places back on the safe surface of our less hazardous world.
We met the group at a car park in Thetford forest. They are interesting, lively and fitter than I would claim to be, with coast-to-coast walks scheduled for some and trips as far away as Aran already under way for others. One veteran geocacher plans an 18 mile walk with IOG friends as a birthday treat on Monday, followed by the 13-day, 192 mile coast-to-coast in a week.
Our hand-held technology set for the task, we are soon under way and happily chatting to strangers. Rachel, it emerges is a master craftswoman of geocaching, having conceived many caches and hidden them with great creativity. She has achieved an amassed score of finds of uncountable magnitude. Apparently it’s not unknown for her and friends to carry on caching in the twilight after a pub meal. In our household, the epilogue to a good meal has refined to a less strenuous whisky and a good night’s sleep.
Peter, our original contact with the group, is a familiar geocacher and chair of IOG. He patiently explains the workings of Werigo which we have already loaded onto our iPhones. The cached treasure of simple toys and trinkets is hidden in waterproof containers, often concealed within natural disguises, such as trees, hollows and logs decorated with larger than life insects, the latter sometimes holding a clue to our ongoing adventure. And as we move from cache to cache Rachel makes field repairs with the aid of her travelling arsenal of glue, tape and paint. But the day isn’t just for veterans. One member of the party, with no geocaching history, shows an expert, though untutored, talent for spotting well hidden caches. By the end of our long day he’s smiling broadly at other people’s teasing and hopeless efforts to distract him from the next find.
Later than expected, our hosts guide us back to the car park. We are invited to join the group for a pub meal, which we decline with some reluctance, because our cat is ill and I have some urgent and essential shopping to do. Finally home, over a well deserved meal, we recount the day. It been good fun, and I’ll sort out membership applications tomorrow. Not much later, we tumble into bed, age competing badly with our sprightly companions of the day. Sleep Cycle, another phone App, records several hours of deep sleep overnight. A sure sign of a well spent day.
With many thanks to the organisers and participants alike.
It was Frank’s fault for suggesting an IOG meet-up at the Briarbank Beer Festival.
It was Frank’s fault that he delegated the organisation to Lou.
It was Frank’s fault that it was a warm, dry evening, forcing us to sit outdoors all evening (in keeping with IOG ethos), and exacerbating our thirst.
It was Frank’s fault that the event was well attended by a variety of IOG members at different times, resulting in random rounds of drinks being purchased throughout the evening from a huge beer menu.
It was Frank’s fault (even though he didn’t turn up until later) that there was a pub quiz, in which us IOG’ers felt obliged to participate.
It was Frank’s fault that IOG’ers somehow managed to win said quiz, even without Sarah’s input.
It was Frank’s fault that he bought Lou a pint of the strongest brew on the menu (Belgian, 6.8%), which Lou felt obliged to consume.
It was Frank’s fault that I had to prop up Lou walking/staggering all the way back home.
Nevertheless, it was down to Frank – at least in part – that we all had a really enjoyable, chilled, and beery start to the August Bank Holiday weekend.
With an afterword from Christina:
It certainly felt like a splendid evening to go out and enjoy a pint or two at this year’s beer festival at Briarbank. I counted 11 IOGers who joined Lou in the course of this pleasant late summer evening. No doubt, many IOGers had to prepare for the Arran trip and were therefore unable to come along.
When I arrived, the quiz was already in full swing. All tables in their beer garden were occupied with groups happy to face the challenge, no doubt fulled by the pubs finest beers. It was great to be able to sit outside. We had a fantastic result – our group were the winning team and were given the prize, a bottle of expensive looking sparkling wine and a generous voucher of £30 ☺
On Sunday a group of wine enthusiasts joined Carolyn for a wine tasting at Deham Vale Vineyard on the edge of the AONB in East Sussex. It was a lovely sunny day in a beautiful location with good company – what more could one want? Apart from some wine, of course.
During an interesting tour of the vineyard we were told about its 25-year history and future plans to bring together a number of initiatives concerned with conservation on the 40-acre plot. The vineyard has the equipment to process the grapes grown on the Dedham Vale property and a further 12 acres near Colchester, and even suggest that if you have grapes of your own to bring them along and they will ‘turn them into your very own vintage’! This year has been a bit of a disaster, however, because an April frost killed off around half the grape blooms and, while some of the vines re-flowered, there is probably not enough sunshine left to ripen them before winter strikes.
Following the tour we gathered around a table in the tasting barn to sample two whites, one rosé, one red, and a sparkling wine – followed by a pleasant cold collation. Personally, I was keen to attend the event because, prior to last Sunday, I have not enjoyed the English wines I have encountered over many decades of varied wine consumption, finding them somewhat thin, acid, inappropriately floral or overly citrus – and rather expensive. To be blunt, my opinion has not changed very much. It was a lot of fun tasting, commenting, comparing, but no one was tempted to splurge on a case at £12 per bottle. Still, the wines had hope, and opened my mind to tasting more English wines in the future – though, in my opinion, they are not about to nudge the great wine-growing areas of the world aside.
It was a thoroughly entertaining day out, ending with a pleasant stroll in the woods nearby, and we enjoyed ourselves so much there is talk of doing it again in a different venue – something to look forward to. Many thanks for organising it Carolyn.
A lovely location…
…and some fine old buildings.
And the shop.
Beginning with a coffee…
…and some chat…
..we moved onto the tour of the vineyard.
A big gang, but not all IOGers.
The little manikin marks the rows of Bacchus grapes, which are turned into a varietal white wine.
The Bacchus varietal.
This is what the grapes should look like…
…heavily laden. Many of the vines were almost bare, however.
This was organised by Rachael as an introduction to geocaching: a six-mile linear walk from Pin Mill to Shotley Gate following the “We didn’t mean to go to sea” series of geocaches. These are based on the book of the same name written by Arthur Ransome which begins in Pin Mill.
Pictures contributed by Nazmin, text by Julia Capon
Phew! just made it! Although Friday evening walks are always going to be a rush after a long week at work, they certainly pack a punch, as the latest trip to Melton proved.
A group from the IOG of about 15 members met at the car park near Melton station for a five-mile walk in the area. We promptly set off, led very ably by Christina, for a short distance along the Deben River before crossing back across the main road to a fishing lake and past some blackberry bushes laden with early fruit. We then proceeded along a variety of country paths and lanes, passing some amazing thatched cottages – one even had an outdoor swimming pool!
As we walked on, we came upon a beautiful church where we stopped for a few minutes for a refreshing drink. After passing more wonderful houses and another church we arrived at the White Lion pub in Ufford which, had the night not been drawing in, would have been a great pub for a mid-way drink.
Shortly we came to a bridge: the perfect place to pose for a group photo! A bit further up-stream a member of the group thought they saw some otter tracks and scrambled down the bank for a closer look, alas all that was found was an old set of swimming goggles!
We then came across some very upright, straight trees which turned out to be willows – used for cricket bats. Eventually we surfaced from the beautiful countryside back onto the main road and ended a very fine walk at the Wilford Bridge pub for a swift drink just as the sun was setting…