All posts by Marie-Louise Karttunen

Kate’s Colne Valley Walk – Sunday 7th April

Text contributed by M-L; pics M-L & Andy

Twenty of us met up on a lowering Sunday morning for a 10 am departure from Chappel village green – tucked in under the rail viaduct. An impressive structure!

It was a lovely walk of around 13 miles – a bit drizzly for a while in the middle, but nothing to dampen spirits. Much of it followed the Colne River through the Colne River valley – but there were also fields of sheep with their new born lambs and woodlands laced with lime green spring foliage, almost-in-flower bluebells, swathes of wild garlic and anemones, vivid yellow cowslips and everywhere the hawthorn blossom. Fabulous.

The company was great, the leadership exceptional and most of us enjoyed a pint (or two) and a good, rather late lunch in the Swan Inn in Chappel when the walk was over. The open fire was much appreciated. Many thanks to Kate for engineering a joyous day out.


 

Christina’s Sprightly Spring Stroll – Saturday 23rd March

Test and pics Christina; post script by Hedge the hedgehog

Thanks to all who came along to my walk of around 10 miles this Saturday. 15 of us met at the car park on Illife Way in Stowmarket. Having walked around 7 miles we reached Great Finborough area and its impressive church spire which certainly is a dominant feature in these rural and tranquil parts of Suffolk. We then took in Buxton Church, Great Finborough golf course and Rattlesden River, before heading back to Illife Way car park.

You were great company and easy to navigate around, nobody got left behind. I certainly had a good laugh thanks to Julian and Hedge the hedgehog who we decided to recruit as a new IOG member! Some of us spotted a green woodpecker and the first Peacock this spring, also a couple of hares. There were daffodils everywhere and the woodland area along the river was covered with wild garlic – there was a strong scent of garlic although no blossoms had emerged so far. Not sure what the others thought, but I particularly enjoyed our lunch stop opposite the Chestnut Horse behind Gt Finborough Church and basking in the spring sun. What a wonderful world to be in! 🙂

P.S. Jottings from a new member.

Spring! Wake up and get out there, as we hedgehogs say, so off to try it out.

The IOG, a group of nature lovers meeting today in Stowmarket Asda car park. Greeted by our leader Christina, I discovered I’d forgotten my boots so a generous member agreed to carry me.

Off we set! We smoothly negotiated some hair /prickle raising traffic (the secret seems to be: keep moving!). Out down Christina’s secret green lane, and there it was, spring in all her freshness! Tumbling hares, dipping woodpeckers, sunshine on skin and the blossom. Then lunch.

We sat on a wormy, grassy mound outside the chestnut horse pub. No one else seemed interested so I tucked in. Lots of fat juicy ones. The humans burbled and cackled contentedly.

Then walked back, not merely across but along the road. Then thanks and farewell.

I’ll be back.


 

Cycle Maintenance Evening with Elmy Cycles – Tuesday 19th March

Text and pics contributed by Christina.

This was a repeat of a hugely informative earlier event which proved so popular we held it again.

For some of us it was a bit of a rush to get to the cycle shop at 6.30pm. Like last year Steve hosted a two hour talk and hands-on demo of chain maintenance and different tyres and how to use the gears in a way which protects the chain – avoid big jumps and instead “keep the chain in a straight line”. Over a warming cup of tea (probably no heating at this time of the day) we wrote our questions on a piece of paper, and most of them got answered in the course of the evening. Did you know that treaded tyres look nice, but they are only of use if you ride on soft ground such as mud or grass?  Steve explained it is best  to buy puncture resistant rather than puncture proof tyres, and not to buy gel-filled tyres: they are messy, rather heavy, and you can still get punctures.

Other interesting topics we covered were how to fix a puncture and replace the inner tube with the right technique, without a trusty spoon or using a tyre lever or anything other than your hands (buy a thin lever only if you must). We were told what essential puncture repair kit to carry and were amazed to learn that a ÂŁ5 note put inside the tyre can make all the difference since it has the right size and apparently does not tear.

For me it was the second cycle maintenance evening and I still learnt a lot, and some matters became clearer the second time round.

For Janice and her husband Colin and for Glenys’ daughter Sophie it was their first IOG event. Janice e-mailed me afterwards to say  it was an evening filled with interesting detail and also most enjoyable.

A massive thank you to Steve for having us after a probably long work day.


 

Glen’s Stanton Strolls – Sunday March 17th

Text contributed by Glen; pics by Christina

Twenty-seven of us decided that for some reason St Patrick’s Day was best celebrated by a visit to “a homestead on stony ground”, which apparently is what Stanton, a sleepy village in north-west Suffolk, means.

Though we were sprinkled by bouts of hail and rain, fortunately these were very short-lived and we enjoyed some sunshine and spectacular cloudscapes while being airbrushed by an enthusiastic breeze.

For the first circular walk instalment we traversed ancient tracks, passed by Wyken Hall, and then a Buddhist retreat centre, and latterly Stanton Windmill before a drinkstop in the village’s Cock pub.

Seventeen participants ventured out for the post-pub second loop, the highlight of which was the fascinating walk through The Grundle, a sunken lane carved out during the Ice Age leading out from the village, so different from surrounding terrain.


 

Southwold Geology Walk – Saturday 16th March

Text contributed by M-L; pics by Andy and various.

Despite a yellow wind warning (more of which anon) about 12 IOGers gathered in front of Southwold Pier at 9am on Saturday morning to explore the cliffs of Southwold under the guidance of geologist Colleen Nunn and her friend Pam.

We began by threading our way along the slightly slippery upper level of the concrete stairs edging an uneasy sea to a pile of boulders and concrete slabs that I personally found a bit of a test (but not nearly as much of a test as when returning, considerably less fresh, a few hours later).

Good advice, quite unheeded.

We then strolled up the beach (with the wind behind us) until Colleen and Pam reached a spot they felt exemplified the formations on that stretch of shore.

According to Colleen:

The cliffs here are formed of glacial deposits over the Wroxham Crag Formation, which in turn overlies the Norwich Crag. [The layers, dating back nearly 2.5 million years and still clearly visible in the cliff faces, were pointed out by our enthusiastic guides, who described how the area was once part of the Rhine Delta.]  The deposits are quite variable [some having travelled all the way from Scandinavia] and include intertidal mudflats, offshore sand and pebble banks as well as marine and fluvial deposits. Our two guides also pointed out sedimentary structures in the cliff face including ice wedge casts, cross bedding and former channels. Apparently the cliffs here can contain mammalian fossils although these are from a particular ‘bed’ which is only present in part of the cliff and finds are few are far between now as the cliff has eroded and there is only a small outcrop left.

Naturally, as the cliffs are part of an SSSI, we observed but did not touch.

From there we made our way past Covehithe Cliffs and Benacre Broad – marvelling at the erosion and the precarity of a house whose garden was already on the beach – before heading inland to follow narrow lanes and woodland tracks back to the partially ruined church at Covehithe for a lunch break.

It was a relief to be out of the worst of the wind, which was picking up, but there was no way around  returning to the beach at Covehithe for an unrelenting slog into an oncoming sandstorm for over 3 miles (according to the pace recorded by Lou’s GPS and the time taken). Heads went down and, apart from the irrepressible Tess and Colleen, people made their way back up the beach in dogged solitude – and at a spanking pace.

Fortunately, all things must pass and after negotiating the slabs of concrete once again, we were all free to revive ourselves in time-honoured style.

A fascinating walk, the usual great company, and many thanks to Colleen and Pam for their enthusiasm and willingness to share their expertise. There is talk of checking out some chalk in the future.


 

Francis’s 20-miler – Campsea Ashe to Saxmundham – Saturday 9th March

Pics contributed by Christina et al., text by al.
Route map of walk.

I didn’t read the bit that said we had to do all 20 miles on foot – I thought that was why we caught the train!

Anyway we did it – 20 of us. Strong wind from behind helped us along but ruined the comb-overs. Rain visited for a bit but so did sunshine. Some nutters spent most of the 20 miles practicing the conga (more hokey cokey than conga); what is the group coming to?

Started at Campsea Ashe and finished (we were completely finished) at Saxmundham for dinner. Here are the photos to prove it.


 

Sarah’s Tunstall Forest Walk from Snape Maltings – Saturday 2nd March

Pics contributed by Andy et al.

 

On Saturday Sarah led a circular walk, departing from, and returning to, Snape Maltings. This was a route  of just over 9 miles taking in Iken Cliffs, Tunstall Forest and Chillesford, mostly following the Suffolk Coast Path and the Sandlings Walk. The ed. was not there, but it appears that the day ended in traditional style 🙂


 

Glen’s ‘Brain Teaser’ – Sunday 17th

Story contributed by M-L; pics by Andy

Last Sunday 22 IOGers gathered in lovely sunshine at a carpark near Braintree station to join our leader Glen on an 11-mile saunter through the greening Essex countryside. We began by following the winding River Brain out of  town, heading south towards Black Notley past the Grade 2-listed Black Notley Hall buildings. Then it was westwards to Great Notley, stopping for a welcome drink in the sun outside The Prince Louis pub, Notley Green, where we were joined by Karen – visiting from northern parts – for the latter part of the walk.

Refreshed, we made our way through Great Notley Country Park. Remarkably, no one was diverted onto the giant seesaw or the Sky Ropes in the play area, indeed no; sedately we climbed the man-made hillock, considered the rather grim ‘Bird of Freedom’ for a few minutes (a solid concrete plinth with an old aeroplane propeller embedded in it – light and airy it was not), and wended our way north to Rayne. From here it was east back towards our starting point.

When we reached Flitch Way some detached themselves and returned to cars and home while others felt they required a final beverage and cake. This was provided by the Booking Hall Café in the former Rayne Station.

Some of us know how to enjoy life to the full!


 

Ian’s Chelmondiston to Shotley Trudge in the Sludge – Sunday 10th February

Pics and story – an anonymous donation.

Ian (our Micky the Cobra lookalike) sat quietly in his car hoping no one in their right mind would turn up. No one in their right mind turned up. But there were 18 IOGers who did. Can’t imagine Ian was the draw – and it wasn’t the weather.

The worst was after the Bristol Arms pub stop. Indecently no one had a beer – eh? There was a torturous, strong, biting coastal wind along the Orwell southern bank whilst the path was very slippery. That was exhausting.

Windy, cold and wet. Utterly miserable. How do I persuade the rest of the IOG that they missed out on a treat? But they did miss out – especially that feeling of relief when you saw the end.