Text and pics contributed by Bob M.
There was a good turnout of members and new faces for the re- run of a walk that was blighted by awful weather last year. Although we did not escape rain and hail showers, the elements were considerably kinder this time round.
Led by a freshly certified, award-winning leader, the party crossed Lemons Hill bridge from Alton Water car park and walked southwards down the western bank of Alton. While the main group turned off after an hour of walking, a small group continued onwards, choosing to do the 8-mile option that involved circumnavigating the reservoir.
Having suffered disappointment at finding the community cafe at Stutton closed, the main group of 15 progressed cakeless down to the shoreline at Stutton Mill, observing the black swans and guinea fowl in the ornamental garden pond. Lunch was taken at Grahams Wharf overlooking Holbrook Bay, with great views eastwards up the river towards Parkeston Quay and Felixstowe Port. The route then cut back inland towards Stutton giving a view of Crowe Hall and its extensive grounds.
At Stutton another small group elected to take the 12-mile option and headed off towards the reservoir cafe. Clearly the atmosphere and refreshments were most convivial as this group only just managed to beat the main party back to the finish.
The remaining nine walkers headed on past Stutton church and back down to the river, passing the lovely country home of a well-known comic actor. Sadly GRJ did not invite us in out of the rain which is a bad show when we all pay our TV licence fee. Leaving his llamas behind, the group moved along the shoreline past the impressive frontage of the RHS to Alton Wharf then followed the stream to Holbrook Mill, past the waterworks facility to join the reservoir path at the north end of the dam wall. The last leg followed the path northwestwards around the reservoir back to Alton Water car park.
As the full 15-mile walk took far less time to complete than had been estimated, it was felt necessary to while away a little time at the White Horse where a senior IOG member was discovered shamelessly nursing a pint and watching the rugby in front of the welcoming log fire.
Thanks to all the walkers for your company and to the landlord at the White Horse for the warm welcome and the gratis roasties.