Category Archives: Past Doings

Here you will find stories and descriptions of many past events put on by the IOG: from concerts and trampolining to trips across Britain and further afield, with a solid foundation of reports of walks undertaken – usually with route maps and pictures.

The Twenty-Milers – Steve and Francis strike again

Steve’s Ufford walk – Saturday 24th March

Story contributed by Dave T-F.; pics by Francis.

We gathered in the field behind the Ufford Lion where Dave Bird alighted amongst us – resplendent in his winter plumage. Weaving through the water meadows of the Deben Valley, we passed the bridge where Steve and I parted company with Tim McCarthy in the film Deben River! (fun for all the family!)

Continuing through a plantation of Cricket Bat Willows and onto Shottisham via a long, sandy, energy-sapping, bridle path – passing the Sorrel Horse (dismay!) – we reached the round flint tower of the Norman Church at Ramsholt with its commanding view across the Deben. As we lazed and ate our lunch with the Waller family who are buried here – their headstones all bearing the skull and crossbones: a symbol of mortality or perhaps they were all pirates – we listened to the calls of curlew and wigeon.

The sun was clearing away the cloud cover and the final leg of our walk was in sunshine along the banks of the Deben in which we basked briefly whilst two errant members were gathered back in to the fold.

Time being on our side we stopped at the National Trust café at Sutton Hoo and gorged on cake before continuing through the golf course, cutting a sinuous path through the meadows accompanied by the scolding of blackbirds in the crepuscular shadows of dusk (pretentious git!). Returning to the White Lion and dinner after a little over 20 miles.

Thank you Steve

Francis’ Sudbury to Ipswich Hike – Saturday 7th April

Pics contributed by Christina , Sarah and Francis; words by Christina.

One week prior to Francis’ walk the forecast did not look great. The thought of stomping through muddy and boggy fields in the pouring rain had little appeal and I followed the forecast days prior to the event with some apprehension, thinking I might want to pull out.

 

Luckily, the day promised to be OK with only a 10-15% chance of rain. On an early Saturday morning in April, ten IOGers joined Francis in the Old Cattle Market for the 8.15 bus to Sudbury. Apart from poor David B who fought with travel sickness, the majority enjoyed a jolly ride on top of the double decker bus.

 

We had our first stop at the Coffee Box in Boxford where I opted for a bacon roll – it was warm and absolutely delicious – and a flat white. The couple who ran the place were most surprised to learn we planned to walk 20 long miles and had not even started before visiting their café for refreshments J  

 

Our route went from Boxford to Ipswich’s Berner Street via Stoke by Nayland, Stratford St Mary with a stop by the river opposite the Swan Pub, Little Wenham and Great Wenham, then returned to Ipswich via Washbrook near Copdock and alongside and through Chantry Park. Some of us were lucky enough to see a fox crossing a footpath and also four large deer crossing the path in front of us and running across a field in full view.

 

 

It felt like a true spring day, a mild and gentle breeze was in the air, sky larks were singing in the fields, and there was an abundance of primroses, daffodils, tulips and other spring flowers everywhere, bordering the woods and the ditches and growing in the cottage gardens and church yards.

 

It took us nine hours to complete the walk and everyone arrived at the O Patio restaurant at 6.30pm where Francis had booked a table for nine diners. We all had a lovely meal and a good laugh and giggle. The red Portuguese wine certainly helped to lift everyone’s spirits and loosen their tongues after a long walking day. The restaurant had just been opened. It was warm and cosy and it allowed its guests to look into the kitchen with the chef and staff busy at work. I made mental note to go back there one day.

 

It is yet to be decided whether to trust Francis’ piece of string which estimated 20.6 miles or Rachael’s GPS showing a whopping 22.5 miles. To quote our organiser, Francis, however: “I’m not impressed with the accuracy of Rachael’s electronic device.”

 

My thanks go to Francis for organising this great walk so well and the meal afterwards.

Easter in Borrowdale – March 30th-April 2nd

This year the IOG’s regular Easter trip to the Lake District was based at Borrowdale Youth Hostel – 2.8 miles from the Honister Slate Mine and 6 miles from Lake Buttermere. Organised by our ex-Chair, Matthew, something like 40 people gathered in the hostel, its camping pods and nearby accommodation for an active, stress-free weekend on the hills, fells and dales. The weather, though far from perfect, seems to have been bracing for all concerned and good times were the order of the day.

As usual, each day the party split into various groups depending on inclination, ambition and skill, and headed off on a range of different walks, gathering each evening over dinner and then the log burner, board games and cards in the hostel bar. I will upload the tales and pics as they come in – hopefully, those of us who didn’t or couldn’t go for some reason or other will get to experience second-hand the walks and other activities that make up this time-honoured part of the IOG calendar.

Saturday 31st March – Over Glaramara

Words and pics contributed by Torben

Having travelled up on Thursday and enjoyed Good Friday taking in some gorgeous views from Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike, the Saturday forecast favoured low-level walking and much of the group took this option.  However at least two groups ventured up from the hostel to Glaramara to see what they would find, hopefully without getting lost in the cloud!

I headed out confidently with Rachael (and her navigation skills) and Martin and Adrian, (both also members of Ipswich Mountaineering Club who were equipped with ice axes).  Sure enough there was a lot of snow and ice on the mountain and some excellent navigation, option assessment and careful testing of terrain led us safely up and over Glaramara where we met an American couple who had camped out that night and enjoyed an incredible sun setting on all the mountain tops around them.  They wanted to know if the snow had descended down into the valleys as they planned their route off the mountain.

Heading over towards Allen Crag we met a couple of fell runners who were completely lost and concerned that they may have been somewhere near Esk Hause.  With a little help from our navigator they went off in the direction of Glaramara for a descent back to Borrowdale YHA where they also happened to be staying.

After a very cold lunch at Sprinkling Tarn we headed down below the snowline via Styhead Tarn and up to windy gap, having taken the decision to avoid Great Gable in favour of the lower Green Gable and on via Brandreth and Grey Knots to the YHA at Honister Hause where Adrian was staying.

We enjoyed a welcome break from the weather and a re-acquaintance with the hostel staffer who famously appeared as a background interloper in our Coast-to-Coast photo here on a much wetter September morning. Rachael, Martin and I then returned down the valley to Borrowdale to compare survival stories with the rest of the group, and hopefully those two fell runners.

Another decent hostel meal followed by cards and board games in a warm, cosy bar that has walking memorabilia hanging from the rafters and a log burner roaring away and everyone seemed happy with their day’s work.

Lou’s Grange Fell Walk – Saturday 31st

Words, map and pics contributed by Lou.

I managed to put most people off this walk with tales of boggy ground and steep slippery rocky steps. However, eight of us still set off on a cold wet Easter Saturday and headed towards my first point of interest. It transpired that no-one in the group had heard of the Herries Chronicles, so that was a bit of a damp squib and we climbed on towards the viewpoint of Kings How. Everyone had heard of King Edward, however, and even I know of his daughter Princess Louise (albeit from frequenting the pub of that name in Holborn). We got blasted with freezing snow and hail at the top, and no-one was keen on staggering a few extra yards to find the plaque explaining the significance.

From Kings How, we retraced our steps for a while and then headed over the wonderfully named Jopplety How, avoiding the worst of the boggy ground. Our spirits were raised once the tarn and tearooms at Watendlath came into view. We were pleased to find lots of space to sit down, spread out our wet clothing, drink tea/coffee/hot chocolate and eat cakes. I’ve never seen the car park so empty; the weather must have put people off.

After we had warmed up, the weather had improved to a light drizzle and we set off again across the fell to Dock Tarn. From there it was only about a further mile to the pub, but this was the hardest mile down the dreaded steep, slippery, stepped stones.

The Langstrath Inn was a very welcome stopping point, and a couple of pints later we returned to the hostel via a flat minor road in time for showers and dinner.

Favourite quote from Martin: “I didn’t realise the Lake District was so hilly”.

Zoomable map: https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/1968410/Grange-Fell-310318

Walk Statistics:
Planned: 6-7 miles (9.6-11.3km), 470m ascent, finish 4pm at the Langstrath Inn
Actual: 12.7km, arrived at pub 4.35pm

Lou’s High Spy Ridge Walk – Sunday 1st April

Map contributed by Lou; pics contributed by Lou and Christina; words by David Truzzi Franconi.

Setting out from the Hostel we slithered and scrambled along the Derwent River, heading for Seatoller at the foot of the Honister Pass.  Bravely declining a ‘loo’ stop, we then headed across the fields, cutting through a farmyard, and started the climb to Dale Head. This is a long and arduous climb through the quarry workings that dominate the landscape hereabouts.

Rigghead quarry at the head of Tongue Gill produced the stone for Buckingham Palace and Scotland Yard. The area is also rich in graphite which was used in the production of cannon balls enabling a smoother casting and hence more accuracy; it also fed a burgeoning pencil industry at Keswick. Labouring through the middle quarry spoil bank you can see two adits one above the other as you head into the steeper upper quarry.

Gaining the ridge and after some pre-dinner bog hopping we finally settled down to eat and recuperate, listening to the caw of ravens and enjoying the circular vistas of snow capped hills. We eventually reached High Spy at 650m. The three walks of the day all bisected this point at some stage. Rachael had left a snowperson with an IOG badge on its breast on the summit cairn which had sadly disintegrated by the time we reached it.

Heading onwards towards Cat Bells we enjoyed one last look at the amphitheatre of snow-covered hills and Lake Derwent surrounded by patches of forest that looked as if they had been placed by railway modellers. A rigorous plummet found us jarring our knees and leg muscles as we threaded our way slowly down towards Rosthwaite and the pub. (Lou is thinking of organising a trip to Lourdes for those still walking with difficulty). The Riverside Bar caters for walkers and Lou’s intention had been to stop for a quick one en route to the hostel.

Some considerable time and 3 pints of the wonderful local brew Snecklifter later, we were once more walking beside the Derwent, passing the cave where the excellent Millican Dalton, “Professor of Adventure”, lived during the summers of the 1920s. A debate then ensued as the best way to reach the Hostel, but Lou restored our faith in his navigational abilities by delivering us to the stone footbridge that carries the road to the hostel and our temporary home.

Thanks Lou – the doctors say the splints should come off by October!

Surprise View to Watendlath Tarn, returning via Lodare Waterfalls – Sunday 1st April

Watendlath Tarn

Our original plan for the day was to possibly climb Cat Bells, along with stopping at the Bowder Stone (or as I thought Boulder Stone) and taking in a waterfall. However, after some confusion as to where we were going first, two out of three cars headed straight to the car park marked on the OS map for Cat Bells. After discovering it was overflowing, we returned to the Bowder Stone car cark where we met up with the other car. Here, after taking in the massive stone, watching the guy bouldering to the top of the stone on several occasions and then climbing up to the top to take some selfies (using the stairs!), we wondered where to go next.

We spoke to the gentleman from the National Trust at the Bowder Stone car park, who recommended that we head to Watendlath Tarn after taking in the view at Surprise View. So we headed up to car park at Surprise View and took in the beautiful view across Derwent Water. We then set out to walk through the valley following Watendlath Beck to Watendlath Tarn, which was beautiful. Among my favourite sights were the ‘Teddy Bear’ cows, which looked like they had teddy bear fur, or possibly had been crossed with a poodle! We were fortunate with the weather, the sun decided to come out some of the time and it stayed dry. A contrast to the previous day of wind and snow! Fred and Bruce, some of the youngest members on the trip were with us, and they seemed to be enjoying themselves and kept the adults entertained, along with each other. We arrived at Watendlath Tarn and had our lunch, most of us out on the bridge while a few went inside the tea room that had been my shelter on Lou’s walk the day before.

Vicky, Justin and Fred left us at this point, as they needed to get back to meet up with Matthew and family as arranged, so they returned via the quicker route along the road. The rest of us re-traced our steps through the valley, detouring off to the Lodare Waterfall before returning to the cars. Karen managed to keep Bruce entertained so well playing the dare game that we were nearly at the waterfall before he realised that Fred was no longer with us. After stopping by the pub in Rosthwaite for a quick refreshment, we returned to the hostel. However, Vicky and I weren’t done, as we decided to have a quick trip up to Castle Crag before dinner. Justin was supposed to join us, but, somehow, we managed to lose him before we left the hostel! It turns out he thought we had left, and went to find us while we were still in the hostel looking for him. However, he used a different gate to the route required, so by the time he returned to the hostel to find us, we had left by the other gate. He missed us by only a minute or two!

A great weekend was had by all during this trip. My thanks go to Matthew for taking on the task of organising it, which wasn’t easy at times! Also thanks to everyone for their great company as always, and the great walks.

A quick trip up to Castle Crag before dinner

Concluding Words

Contributed by resident poet/comedian Glen

Borrowdale 2018

 

Breakfast time and full of bustle

Packed lunch frenzy adds to hustle

Energy sourced from inside the fridges

Needed much later to get up the ridges

 

Nine a.m. comes, time to get off our arses

To put best feet forward to tackle the passes

Onward in good spirit, some telling yarns

Sharing some stories en route to the tarns

Stubbornly trekking to skyward summits

Where IOG-ers dare, and where temperature plummets

All members blend in, and everyone gels

Whether low in the valleys or high in the fells

 

It’s Easter time but no sign of a cleric

Just plenty of running from mobile young Eric

Indeed, on this trip some people brought sons

Others were content with just hot cross buns

 

Evening comes and time for reflection

To tell where you went and your general direction

The atmosphere’s warm and group members are chummy

Some playing Monopoly and some playing rummy

Just chilling out and enjoying no stress

Drinking a beer or trying some chess

 

But for some, work’s not done

And they huddle around maps

This peak or that one

Via this valley perhaps?

For these Sunday walks, there’s careful surmising

Of which hills to climb for our Group’s Easter Rising

Hail these walk leaders, able and true

Whose skills we appreciate, many thanks to you

 

Then it’s time to retire to the land of nod

Off to our bunks or maybe our pod

 

The trip’s over quickly, and really been good

As everyone thought it likely would

So time now to finish and take off one’s hat

To our excellent organiser, thanks so much, Matt.

Snape Maltings to Aldeburgh and back – Sunday 18th March

Words and pics contributed by Simon 

“We must be mad.”

Ian, our walk leader for the day, briefly popped out of the car to get his gear from the boot. Hastily he dashed back into the driver’s seat and proceeded to colourfully describe how cold it was. The Met Office had warned that the wind-chill would make it feel like -9 degrees C. Brass monkeys had been warned to stay indoors.

The weather could not stop nine hardy souls from gathering in the car park at Snape Maltings, ready for a bracing walk to Aldeburgh and back. Ian briefly went into ‘tour guide’ mode and explained some of the history of the route we were going to take, the ‘Sailors Path’. I remember he said something about smugglers and how local pub owners used to display lights in a particular way to warn them when it was not safe to come near. But most of us just wanted to get moving and get warm.

After a short walk along the road into Snape, we soon picked up the path towards Aldeburgh. We walked through fields with a smattering of grazing sheep before heading into the woods. The trees were largely bare. The leaves had rather sensibly decided that it definitely wasn’t spring yet and that they would sleep a little longer. There are boarded walkways over the swampy patches, but most of the water we saw underfoot was frozen. Emerging from the woods the path turned from dirt to sand and we soon found ourselves at the road into Aldeburgh. On the way down into town we caught a brief glimpse of the sea. Pale grey and roughened up by the wind.

Aldeburgh was very quiet. The sane people were indoors in the warm. We piled into the Cragg Sisters’ Tea Room and refuelled on hot thick soup and cream teas.

Our route back initially found us re-tracing our steps along the ‘Sailors Path’, but we soon branched off to walk around ‘Snape Warren’ so we could return to the Maltings through the reed beds. The group’s keen bird-watchers were soon identifying marsh harriers, lapwing and avocets. No one seemed very impressed when I pointed out some pigeons.

There was some debate about how far we had actually walked. Phone apps were compared; some said 13 miles and others said 11.6. Precise measurements would have to wait because the Plough and Sail at Snape Maltings beckoned. We claimed the comfy sofas near the wood-burning stove and soon warmed-up over a well-earned pint or two. The conversation drifted into that pleasant realm of nonsense that shows that everyone is having a good time. I was very surprised to learn that apparently Lord Lucan and Marilyn Monroe had faked the moon landings 

A good day, in good company. Thank you to all involved.

Sarah’s Castle Hedingham Walk – Saturday 10th March

Pictures and map contributed by Christina, Sarah and Simon; story by Christina.

Sixteen of us joined Sarah on her walk which started near Castle Hedingham in Essex and led us through Sible Hedingham and Great Maplestead. I thought the whole experience was great fun from start to finish. At work I always struggle to explain to non-walkers and indoor activists the joys of walking, even in winter, when the ground is likely to be muddy and slippery and a chill might spread to our bones when we stop to enjoy our sandwiches in the more often than not wet or at least damp outdoors. On Saturday we covered nine muddy and boggy miles or so, walking across fields and through woodland and alongside brooks, up and down surprisingly steep inclines intercepted by numerous amazing views into the valley. We noticed many daffodils and other signs of spring everywhere. Among the numerous highlights of this walks were a group of small deer and an Egret. Some of us were lucky enough to see a grey heron flying low across a field. Being a horse lover Carolyn was delighted to see a group of well-groomed horses gazing at us from a field. Looking at my own dirty boots and brown walking trousers with matching mud splashes, I asked myself how on earth they managed to stay so pristine.

A big thank you to Sarah for organising this great walk.

 

Glen’s Halstead Hike – Sunday 4th March

 

Pics contributed by Sarah; poetry by Glen; map by Christina.

How good now to wander with relative ease

Farewell we much hope to the recent big freeze

Eight of us left Halstead in weather now mild

Keen to check out the Colne valley wild

No need to hurry, we’re not in a rush

Taking our time through the mud and some slush

 

Eastwards to Earl’s Colne’s edge then up to Colne Engaine

We were a small but contented chain

Some went to the churchyard to feast on their snacks

Others went to the Five Bells instead to relax

We then climbed gently northwards on paths in thaw

Enjoying a climate no longer raw

Not a great hardship when down came light rain

On with our waterproofs then off again

A decent stroll and appetites feeling full

Half of us ended up at The Bull.

Gerry’s Colchester to Chappel Walk – Sunday 18th February

Words and map contributed by Gerry; pic by Simon.

Nineteen IOG members including Paula, on her first walk with the group, set off from Colchester Railway station at around 10.45 on a route of approximately nine miles. The weather was remarkably warm and sunny for the time of year.

We walked along through Cymbeline Meadows, following the footpath to Bakers Lane where we descended to take the tunnel under the A12. We continued around, and then across, the golf course to arrive on the outskirts of West Bergholt. Cooks Hall Farm followed and then we joined the Essex Way for three miles of strolling through gently undulating meadows along the River Colne.

Our lunch break was passed at The Shoulder of Mutton pub on Ford St in Aldham where there were plenty of picnic tables in the garden for us to eat our packed lunches in the glorious sunshine [not many publicans will countenance walkers eating picnic lunches on their premises, rather decent of them – Ed.]. We set off again past Aldham Garden Centre following the Essex Way along the Colne through more meadows and fields. Here there were beautiful displays of snowdrops to enjoy and some weird riverside plants which (unusually) even Dave Bird couldn’t identify.

The village of Chappel was approached from high fields overlooking the impressive viaduct from where we continued on down to the village to end the walk at the Swan Inn.

There were drinks and meals available in the pub although some continued on up to the station café for coffee and cake before catching the train back to Colchester.

Rachael’s 51-mile cycle ride – Saturday 17th

Words contributed by Torben; pics by Rachael and Torben

Eight of us met in the sunny reaches of North Ipswich for an IOG cycling adventure on Saturday. Some fine racing and touring steeds were on show although a few of the riders were concerned that the pace would do more than blow out the winter cobwebs.  After reassurance from Rachael we headed out to the north and immediately lost one rider out in front (Julian) and one out the back (Paul Dickerson)!

In beautiful sunshine and light winds and on relatively dry roads we purred along via Cretingham, Earl Soham and Saxtead and were in Framlingham sitting outside a cafe slurping coffee and enjoying pastries in no time.

Well, actually, seven of us were.  In a modern day hare and tortoise fable Paul had stuck with it and made the cafe just behind us, congratulating himself with a large sausage roll and a bakewell tart. Meanwhile, the hare (Julian) had ridden so fast that he had become disorientated and found himself back at his car in North Ipswich.  What to do?  Well this pragmatic hare jumped in his car and joined us in Fram to much hilarity and we shared the fable with the staff and any customer who would care to listen!  We understand the ever-adaptable Julian was last seen touring antique shops in the locality.


With Paul deciding he would make a more leisurely return to Ipswich, Stage 2 of our circuit took us out between Fram College and the castle and photo opportunities were taken at several locations including action shots outside the Sweffling White Horse.The remaining 75% of the group was reduced to 50% as Steve (I know everyone in Suffolk) Seinet-Martin met one of his mates working on a house and he and Torben unwisely stopped to chat. After a slight delay the group reassembled in Farnham looking forward to a second stop at the Blaxhall Ship.  On the way we met another of Steve’s mates and fellow IOGer, Geoff Redgrave, out for a Saturday cycle with his daughter.

The friendly welcome at the Blaxhall Ship had sailed and the landlord can only be described as rather flustered at the sight of six lycra-clad cyclists who had the audacity to order drinks and sandwiches.  Steve decided he would get a better reception at the Station Cafe in Campsea Ashe but the remaining five braved a table in the beer garden awaiting the next move from the aforementioned landlord.  Ian enjoyed his frothy pint but was not brave enough to ask for a flake in it!

After chilling out (yeah, we got cold) over a quick lunch we returned to the warmth of the pub to find that the landlord was having problems with his card machine; he shared a tale of woe featuring £400 worth of transaction failures, which may have accounted for earlier events.  As a result Torben walked away with a free lunch and a promise to wire the payment the following day!

We picked up a very relaxed Steve in Campsea Ashe and rattled along through Pettistree, Bredfield, Great Bealings and Rushmere with further moving pictures taken for the IOG roller banner before returning to North Ipswich after a very enjoyable 51 miles of scenic cycling in the sun.

Glen’s Gosfield Gallivant – Sunday 11th February

Pics contributed by Simon; map by Cristina; words by Glen

Halstead derives from old English words “heald” and “stede”, respectively meaning a sloping hillside and a place of shelter.

And thus it was that 22 walkers sloped off from the middle of this Essex town, passing almshouses opposite the River Colne and Halstead’s historic Townsford Mill, a relic of bygone silk weaving heyday years. There wasn’t too much of a place of shelter thereafter as wended our way out into undulating countryside but the breeze was offset by general brightness, sunshine and group bonhomie as the prospects of spring not being far way were later evidenced by daffodils in bloom to accompany oft-spied snowdrops.

The low-key Gosfield Pits Nature Reserve (the locals don’t like advertising it) with its hollows and ponds served  as a good snackstop, and we were impressed by the extent  of Gosford Lake, though less so by its billing as a “resort”. Gosfield’s Kings Head pub served a useful purpose for a short stop even if service wasn’t great, and those who sat outside found themselves in a pleasant sun-trap like setting.

Skirting next the site of the former Gosfield Aerodrome, we passed through the Forestry Commission’s Broak’s Wood on our way back towards Halstead, pausing to take in some panoramic views of the attractive Colne Valley. Half the group went on to the Bull Inn afterwards, soon after which the onset of a sharp snow/ sleet shower saluted our fortuitous sense of timing.

(The Halstead Hike walk of March 4th will cover different rural territory to the east and north of the town.)