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.
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.
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.
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.)
Three of us – me, Miriam and Pete – headed to the Wooden Fenders pub in Ardleigh on Saturday to take part in the weekly hash run with the West Mersea Hash Harriers. About 15 runners turned out to take part. It was a cold morning but we soon warmed up as we headed off, running across the fields.
The hash run followed a sawdust trail set out by “the Hare” with various symbols along the way to guide the runners as to which way to go. The leading runners would spot the markers first and shout out, “On-On”, to indicate everyone should follow. Occasionally there would be a choice of direction so different runners would head off along the different alternatives as one or more routes might turn into a dead end, marked with lines of sawdust. Here we would have to return to the choice marker and continue on the correct route.
At various points along the way there was a two-spot marker. At this point the front runners would have to run back to the back person. This keeps the group together, the faster front runners have to do extra and the back runners are able to catch up, which means runners of all abilities can take part.
There were also occasional re-grouping points where all the runners had a quick break to allow for the slower ones to catch up. The terrain covered was quite mixed, though on the whole it was generally easy running on tracks and good footpaths across fields and through woodland. But there were a couple of really muddy fields where our shoes became twice as big and heavy, and the running was really tough.
The run took us just over an hour to cover about 5.5 miles. This was my first hash run and I really enjoyed it. It makes the running a bit more fun as there are lots of things to look out for on the way and it is great that people of various running speed can take part.
Look out for another opportunity to join in with one soon!
Report contributed by Jacqui; hotel photo provided to Tripadvisor by management; walk pics to follow
‘Welcome to Felixstowe’ the sign said, which I am sure some of the people who travelled down the A14 were glad to see after an unexpected delay to their journey to Felixstowe caused by an abnormal load being escorted by the police. A cold and breezy day awaited the 25 walkers who joined me for today’s six-mile walk, including our two youngest members, Bruce and Fred.
We set off from the car park adjacent to the town’s golf course and around the northern fringe of the Felixstowe heading across fields, quiet lanes and tracks, areas known as Gulphur, Candlet and Kingsfleet, with good views of the winter landscape – a patchwork of brown and green fields. This brought us back to within sight of the River Deben and Felixstowe Ferry, and from there it was a short but blustery walk by the sea back to the car park.
After returning to our cars it was a brief journey to the welcome warmth of the Brook Hotel where 11 of us enjoyed a delicious roast dinner. A lovely end to a good afternoon enjoyed by all I hope.
Words contributed by Glen; pics by Simon and Karen.
Who cares about distinctly discouraging weather forecasts and temperatures a little above freezing on a drab January day? Certainly not 17 hardy souls (including two newcomers, John and Jason) who descended upon Capel St Mary before setting off on a jaunt which initially skirted the village before emerging in rural hinterland to the north. Our presence as a gaggle of walkers in the fields here was for a few minutes highly exciting for one small but fortunately friendly dog who stoically disobeyed its distant owner’s initial calls to return to base.
Suppressing admirably their undoubted secret excitement at twice crossing the alignment of the former Bentley to Hadleigh railway branchline, (sadly I really must come to accept that I am the group’s sole railway anorak!) the group pressed on, taking in the unexpected sights of the remains of Wenham Castle and the pond-fronted Wenham Hall before pausing in Binny’s Wood for a brief snackstop. By this time, what had previously begun as isolated snowflakes had now developed into sustained snowfall, and we arrived at the Queen’s Head at Great Wenham grateful for a respite from the elements. The sudden appearance of so many of us came as something of a shock to the lonely landlord and the four people already there, but mine host somehow met the challenge of serving us despite the obvious trauma that having to organise some hot drinks as well as beers had caused!
Undeterred by the unabating elements, the group spiritedly took up the outdoor challenge again and were rewarded with some picture-postcard landscape vistas as we looped our way through the Wenhams and then headed southwards towards the A12 before veering back through woodland and bridleways to return to Capel St Mary. Several of us took advantage of the café facilities at the Bypass Nurseries at the end of the walk to round off a satisfying day which ended in timely fashion, given that the bearable snow was very quickly substituted by unpleasant steady rain.
As a footnote, I think we should pause to commend the friendliness and obviously good social skills of members generally. A great example of this was demonstrated this weekend. On Friday, at a social night at the Fat Cat kindly hosted by Karen Trickey, herself a new member, a person unconnected to the IOG simply having a drink in the pub was welcomed into the discussion. He was obviously sufficiently enthused by the camaraderie to join today’s walk despite the unappealing weather outlook. By the end of it, he had paid to become a member, so a warm welcome to John accordingly. Recruitment efficiency at its best!
Thanks to various contributors for pics and words: Sarah, Rachael, Torbin, Karen, M-L.
On Friday, 8th January, twenty-two IOGers gathered in North Yorkshire, most of us at Wharfedale Lodge, http://www.wharfedalelodge.co.uk/ – a comfortable rabbit warren of twin-bedded rooms with a big kitchen and plenty of space – the remaining five in the nearby village of Grassington. This was the perfect way to embark on the new year and huge thanks are due to Angela for organising the location, the accommodation and, of course, the weather, which was all as good as it gets.
Friday night everyone gathered at the Tennant’s Arms, http://thetennantsarms.co.uk/, a short but fumblingly dark walk down the road from the Lodge – most to eat and drink, the Grassington contingent joining us for a pint or two as the evening progressed. This was hard work!
On Saturday three walks were planned, Bob and Rachael’s following much the same route but with extensions at either end for Rachael’s team. The third was organised by Ian to Malham Cove. We start with this one.
Ian’s Malham Cove Walk
Map and words contributed by Sarah; pics Karen.
On a bright but cold and breezy day, our walk started at the Water Sinks Car Park, where 6 of us set off with Ian as our leader. Ian had walked the route previously on another trip to this lovely part of the country. We set off toward the Limestone Pavement at the top of Malham Cove, a rock formation created by glacier activity and melt water at the end of the last Ice Age. After navigating this, we descended around 400 steps in order to come to Malham Cove and its waterfall. After a brief snack stop, we continued through the village of Malham and onto Janet’s Foss for our lunch stop. This waterfall got its name from Janet (sometimes Jennet), who was believed to be a Fairy Queen and Foss is a Nordic word for waterfall.
After lunch, we set off towards Gordale Scar, which was a slight detour off the main route, but a highlight we didn’t want to miss. There is a route up and over Gordale Scar which is very challenging at the best of times, let alone in the middle of winter when there is a lot of (very cold) water coming over the waterfalls. Therefore, once we had taken some photos, we retraced our steps back towards the road. Here we picked up the footpath that would return us to our start point. During this part of the walk, we experienced a short snow storm, which just added to the highlights of the day. It was lovely walk around some great highlights of this part of the Yorkshire Dales. Thanks to Ian for his guidance.
Next is the longer version of a walk the rest of us did the same day – some of us drove to Grassington and back; others did the extra mile (considerably more than that, actually) and walked all the way from Wharfedale Lodge.
Text and map contributed by Rachael; pictures by Torbin & M-L
It was a little damp and drizzly as we set out from our lodge at Kilnsey. The route took us out along the road past Kilnsey Crag and then across the meadows to the pretty little village of Conistone. From here we headed upwards to the limestone cove at the top of Dib Beck, a mini version of Malham Cove.
We contoured around the edge and onto the plateau beyond where we joined the Dales Way path and followed this down into Grassington.
After a short break for refreshment in Grassington market square we continued our walk along the Dales Way following the River Wharfe to Hebden suspension bridge. This middle section of our walk now took the same route as the walk led by Bob. As the day progressed the clouds disappeared and the sun brightened up the views.
We finally caught up with the other group just as they were leaving Burnsall. The seats on the green provided an ideal stopping point for our lunch.
The route from here took us over farm fields with numerous stone stiles to the villages of Thorpe and Linton (and our first sight of primroses and narcissus of the year – ed.)
We rejoined the riverside path at Grassington and followed it north through meadows and woodland back to Conistone. There was just a final short section where we retraced our steps back to the house in Kilnsey (while the less energetic picked up the cars at Grassington and drove home – ed.).
Dinner, courtesy of Anna, Graham, Angela, and Rachael was devoured!
Sunday – 7th January
Sarah’s Bolton Abbey Walk
Map contributed by Sarah; pics and words M-L
A truly lovely walk in a truly lovely part of the country; I think everyone who did it really enjoyed this one, despite a short boggy spell in the middle; personally I thought that (escaping from the icy sludge relatively unscathed) was part of the walk’s charm.
We began by cheekily parking our 3 carloads of walkers in the grounds of a kindergarten near Barden Bridge (the planned car park was full – and who attends kindergarten on a Sunday? Right?). The route – part of the Dales Way – followed a well-made path along the Wharfe River, affording spectacular views of the gorge below – the infamous Strid:
Round a bend and Bolton Priory (on the Bolton Abbey estate) came into view – an impressive ruin of a 12th-century Augustinian monastery that still houses a light and spacious church in one wing. A palpably tranquil suntrap, we stopped there for lunch and left feeling calm and refreshed.
Which was a good thing, because we needed reserves for negotiating the uphill marshland that followed. But hey! We all had appropriate footwear and emerged from the adventure with only 1 leg out of about 22 having been immersed above boot level.
This was followed by a large expanse of beautifully springy turf swooping up to a rocky outcrop with a 360 degree view across the Dales. In the distance was our next destination: a reservoir which the path circumnavigated before dropping back through heath heaving with grouse to where our cars were parked.
Faces fell a little as the cars came into view: a large people-carrier with the kindergarten’s logo on the side blocked our exit, and an irate gentleman greeted the drivers (those not directly involved hung back in cowardly fashion). Still, he had not reckoned on our charming walk leader – Sarah had him laughing (wrapped around her little finger, more like) within minutes, and he moved his vehicle to let us go, somewhat chastened, on our way.
Meanwhile, another, hardier group, had gone up above the snow line, in a much more ambitious endeavour.
Rachael’s Walk – Kettlewell – Great Whernside – Buckden Pike – Buckden – Kettlewell
Text and map contributed by Rachael, pics by Torben.
The forecast was for sunshine all day and the views of snowy summits were very tempting from the previous day, so that is where we decided to head.
We started the route from Kettlewell, the next village upstream from our lodge in Kilnsey. There was a gradual climb up along the icy roads through the village and onto the hills beyond.
As we progressed upwards past the remote hostel at Hag Dike, the snow got thicker and we started heading into the cloud. The snow however was very crumbly and not ideal for making snowmen.
The summit of Great Whernside was cold and windy. We didn’t linger here too long.
There was just enough time for a group photo.
We headed in a northerly direction along the ridge. The ice patterns on the rocks were amazing.
The route took a gradual descent down the side of Great Whernside and as we followed it the views became clearer and the sun began to shine.
When we reached Tor Dike, an earthwork ditch, we paused for refreshments in the sunshine. The route then crossed the road and began the climb up to Buckden Pike. The grasses were frozen solid and there were great views back towards Great Whernside with the cloud still lingering on the summit.
There were fantastic ice patterns on the fence forced into shape by the wind.
Before we reached the top we stopped for lunch out of the wind behind the wall.
Almost at the top is a memorial to six people who lost their lives in a plane crash on Buckden Pike, and it, and the summit, were in clear sunshine. There were great views across to the three peaks, Ingleborough, Whernside and Penyghent.
The route back down was very icy and slippery and, as it gradually turned westward, we were blinded by the blazing sun on the snowy ground. We gradually descended into the village of Buckden. Here we joined the Dales Way path and followed the River Wharfe through the valley back to Kettlewell.
There was just one more brief pause under this chestnut tree on the way for a drink and snack. It was getting dark by the the time we arrived back in Kettlewell, although not quite dark enough for us to have got our head torches out. We finished the walk with a visit to the Bluebell for a well-earned pint of Mud!
The weekend ended for most of us with a feast of lasagne, salad, pavlova and flambeed bananas, provided by Glenys, Angela and Miriam, then stand-up comedy from Glen and parlour games. Most people headed back towards Suffolk after breakfast the next morning.
Though not all. There was one last walk led by the indefatigable Rachael on Monday: covering part of the same route as the Bolton Abbey walks the day before, but in rather different weather conditions.
Monday 8th January – Barden Bridge – Simons Seat – Valley of desolation – Bolton Abbey – The Strid
Words and map contributed by Rachael, pics by Torben
11.5 miles – 5.5hrs
It was another cold but lovely sunny day so three of us – me, Torben and David – decided to make the most of it and have another day walking. We parked up just above the Strid [see above, ed.] on the River Wharfe and joined the Dales Way path to head northwards to Barden Bridge. It was so cold that even the mud on the valley paths was solidly frozen.
We followed the River Wharfe for a couple of miles before heading upwards to Simon’s Seat. The route up was very, very icy.
There were lovely views back across to Appletreewick and Wharfedale.
It was a slow steady climb up. We took a brief pause at the rocky outcrop of Simon’s Seat for our lunch. It was far too cold to linger long.
The summit was blasted by a freezing wind, I could only bear to stand still at the summit for a couple of minutes.
The path across the moors was clear but careful stepping was required.
There were small islands of rock in a sea of ice.
As we progressed further on, the path turned to track and the walking became much easier.
Our route then dropped down into the pretty valley of desolation, and we followed this down to rejoin the riverside path along the Wharfe.
The area is all part of the Bolton Abbey estate.
We followed the path along the northern edge of the river to Bolton Priory.
We returned along the path on the south side past the Strid, a very narrow, fast flowing constriction in the river through a rocky gully. It was getting dark by the time we finished our walk at 5pm.
Thanks to Angela for organising a great weekend trip.
A few IOGers gathered at St Peters on the Waterfront for a final session at the Saints Wine and Beer Festival before ushering in the New Year on the 31st: a range of craft ales, ciders and some very drinkable wines; rather loud ‘open mic’ music; a lot of laughs. Thanks to Claire for suggesting it.
And what does New Year’s Eve hold for all of us? Pics and anecdotes much appreciated!