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.
Text contributed by Christina; pics by Christina and A. Non
Glen’s latest Essex exploration proved yet another crowd puller, aided by good weather. 21 joined us at the designated starting point near the Lido in Brightlingsea. Bruce aged 8 was by far the youngest walker. He and his mum did the first 6 or so miles of this varied and very scenic walk with a further 5 to go after the lunch stop. We had stunning views onto the Essex coastline, Mersey Island, and towards Point Clear as we watched sailing boats go by on the River Colne. Walking by the river and along a row of colourful beach huts and a bright blue sky above us felt like being on holiday . Some of us spotted a couple of egrets, and we watched a couple of buzzards circling looking for a prey.
When heading into the Brightlingsea town centre area I noticed that along the whole side of a house were colourful bird boxes of different styles, some of which bore a “To Let” sign. The house owner explained that each box was occupied by a family of sparrows.
We stopped for lunch in Brightlingsea at Waterside Marina by the river. Some went to a nearby pub called The Yachtsmans Arms. Here, a visibly proud David T-F drew people’s attention to the fine-looking pub sign which he had designed himself. We found ourselves joined by a very sociable labrador upon the post-lunch stroll, but we were not so popular with its owner as the dog celebrated its joy by trampling in the deep creekside mud!
Text and maps contributed by Paul W.; Hall pic by Wiki.
Four intrepid adventurers set out from Berners St. at 7.00am on Monday aiming to survive an ambitious 31 mile trek around the Suffolk countryside. Heading north out of Ipswich, our supreme leader (Rachael) guided us at a good pace towards our first few moments of respite; a welcome stop at Helmingham Hall’s café for tea /coffee and cake. We then headed west and south before finding our way back into Ipswich from Sproughton. See map(s) for more about the route.
Surprisingly, all four survived the experience. Rachael, Hilary, Steve, and I all lived to tell the tale. One member of the party seemed to experience no discomfort for the whole day, her super-hero powers standing her in good stead. Three of us enjoyed being reminded (at least a little) of our mere humanity via assorted blisters, sore knees, and objecting muscles!
The day was made complete by dinner at The Greyhound where our venerable chairperson joined us for a meal. Somehow, he felt he deserved this reward for his little evening stroll across the Ipswich landscape. Those of us who had lasted the whole adventure knew better!
Seven of us enjoyed a varied 12-kilometre circular walk starting from Dunwich beach car park, led by Bob, whilst developing our navigational skills and confidence in using OS maps and compasses. We learnt how to identify key features on maps, interpret contour lines, and understand different types of tracks and paths including open access land. We practised pacing to work out how long it would take to walk a given distance and how to cope with those pesky locations on the edge of the map. We learnt about working out grid references in case we need to call the emergency services in future. We were also set some individual navigational challenges and rose to the occasion, whilst enjoying a varied landscape of woodland, heathland and coastal paths.
We stopped for a well earned lunch break at the Coastguards Cottages cafe before winding our way back to the starting point via a section of the Sandlings Way, passing the ruins of the Franciscan Priory on our left and the perilous cliff edge to the east before descending back to Dunwich village for a final well-earned drink at the Ship Inn.
Thanks to Bob for sharing his wealth of expertise and leading the walk.
Text contributed by Phil D.; pics by Pete E. and Matty
Six of us gathered at the bridge at Dedham and got togged up with various wetsuits and buoyancy aids to face the River Stour. After a briefing from Matty our instructor, we tentatively crawled onto the boards and, kneeling, paddled out into the pool. Once we had learnt to go in a straight line we were shown how to climb to our feet and paddle and turn our boards. We all had a good go around the pool doing our best to avoid hitting each other and attempting to master the various techniques. Everyone was waiting for someone to fall off first so Phil duly obliged by trying to go too fast! Karen was then so busy laughing that she fell off as well. Emma and Pete showed solidarity in falling off too but Ruth and Rachel showed us how it was done but remaining on their boards.
We were then deemed expert enough to set off down the river. Once under the bridge (Phil having to duck) we meandered our way through the meadows enjoying the beautiful countryside from a different perspective. Very peaceful and enjoyable although a few hazards of overhanging tree branches, rowing boats broadside to the stream out of control and posts in the water had to be avoided. We paused half way to Flatford down by the footbridge and the general public were entertained by six wetsuited people running up and down to warm up. However they were spared another conga [thank goodness! – ed.].
The way back was slightly tougher against the stream and wind but we were growing in confidence and made it back in one piece. As Rachel and Phil were paddling up we heard someone on the bank say it must have taken loads of practice to make it look that easy. We didn’t let on! Back to the pool and off with the gear. We were treated to the sight of Karen clutching her hot water bottle to warm up!
It was then felt that we had earned a roast dinner and we retired to the Marlborough in Dedham for a couple of hours. All in all a great morning enjoyed by all. Definitely up to do more. Thanks Matty for looking after us, Ruth for buying Pete the session as a present and Pete for opening it up to us.
On Sunday, a few of us met at Braintree Station car park for a relaxing stroll in the Braintree area. The paths we took were all carefully selected by Glen, the IOG’s appointed Mastermind of Multiple Meanders. When sauntering briefly alongside the River Blackwater in a park setting, we spotted bluebells everywhere. The noisy hammering of a nearby woodpecker who remained well hidden was a welcome sound. Several paths offered interesting views onto vast and open fields and we passed some interesting features, like Bocking Mill, a Grade 1 listed restored windmill and the splendid Deanery Church of ST Mary at Bocking, a late Gothic or perpendicular building, dating mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries. There, we stopped for lunch and were comfortably seated on benches, admiring the pretty flower beds in this very well managed church yard. I would have liked to go inside this attractive church, but there was a service at the time.
The second part of this walk led us across the River Pant, then we passed close to the Grade 1 listed Panfield Hall in lovely countryside before a short section through an industrial estate, rejoining rural vistas en route to Rayne. There we skirted All Saints Church on entering the village. We then proceeded along the tree-lined Flitch Way path from near Rayne back to Braintree station where we all had a meal together in a nearby pub restaurant.
Somewhere in the region of 60 IOGers gathered around Grasmere for Easter this year – in the Youth Hostel, camping outside the Youth Hostel, in nearby Thorney How Hostel and also, I believe, Ambleside Youth Hostel. This was a challenging feat of organisation – compounded by rather resistant staff at the main hostel who did their best to block smooth proceedings – which our ex-Chair, Matthew, with help from Belinda, carried out with the unfailing cheer and humour we all know and love him for. Many, many thanks, Matthew – we are all looking forward to next year (no emojis available, but it would be someone rolling on the floor laughing), though fully understand if you think it is someone else’s turn.
We were hugely blessed with blissful, Midsummer Night’s Dream weather in the middle of April – incredibly beautiful days that England trots out occasionally to show that she can; sheep were lambing, birds nesting, vivid lime coloured leaves appearing on the trees, bluebells, blossom, daffs, and the intense green of new grass everywhere. For those of us who camped, the dawn chorus was breathtaking.
And then there were the activities! And they were many and various!
Thursday – Easedale Tarn
Contributed by M-L
One of the walks that started the trip for those who arrived early was a hike to Easdale Tarn on Day Minus One. This was just a little stroll up to the tarn to the west of Grasmere and back, but it was the first day and it was a taste of treks to come. Most enjoyable.
Multi-generational Stroll around Grasmere
Contributed by Karen, Pete F.
I think this was the shortest IOG walk of the day but it took the longest.
Our group had a leisurely 5-mile walk around Grasmere, followed by a lovely cup of tea and then a boat trip on the mere…
Thankfully, Peter Farrand saved the day as I couldn’t quite get the hang of rowing the boat.
It was lovely day spent with a diverse group, spanning 3 generations.
Contributed by M-L
This walk was kindly orchestrated by Lou, who, I am sure, would rather have been tackling something more challenging, but, being the gent he is, happily escorted those who wanted to take it a bit easy. It involved a gentle stroll along the south side of Grasmere (some recurring dispute about the definition of a ‘mere’ which got rather funny) and Rydal Water with a short rise to Loughrigg Terrace, a pretty view, and quite a long time sitting on a bench looking at it – exercising our wit rather than our legs.
A quick poke around Rydal Cave followed – nasty, dank-looking spot and I stayed in the sun where I could see if someone fell in while negotiating the stepping stones but was not given that treat – then onto Ambleside for, really, a most undeserved pint, but enjoyable nonetheless. Then it was back home along the north side past Rydal Park and I suspect, but don’t exactly remember, that our ardours were rewarded by another pint in Tweedies’ welcoming beer garden, more of which anon.
And more of the same
View up Grasmere from Loughrigg Terrace
That hat in Rydal Cave
Come on, slip someone.
Nope, made it back safely
Another day in paradise – Rydal Park
The ‘money tree’ which Francis had promised us.
Rowing on Grasmere
Contributed by M-L
For those exhausted by Lou’s stroll around Grasmere and Rydal Water on Friday, there was the option of rowing across them on Saturday – and a hilarious hour was spent catching crabs and doing tight, unintended little circles. Raj, who had never held an oar before, quickly picked it up – picked two of them up, actually – and allowed the rest of us to admire how high we had climbed the day before.
Rachael’s High Raise Walk
Text contributed by A. Non; pics by A. Non and Alan B.
[Now, I wouldn’t have anything to say about this – the very title ‘Rachael’s Walk’ striking chill into my slothful heart – but fortunately someone has recovered enough to send in a report – ed.].
Unlike the fair-weather, ambling (wimp) author of the above [the nerve – ed.] there are some who delight in anything with a hint of challenge. Challenge just about covers anything Rachael leads (except perhaps Morris dancing which is puzzling).
Actually I think she listed this walk as moderate but secretly thought doable on crutches. The route was generally upwards, passing Easedale Tarn en route. A good spot for a quick break.
Easedale Tarn was about half way to Sickle Tarn where we rested again, prevaricating, until it became obvious that’s what we were doing, while others over-analysed the options to get up onto High Raise. There were only two, both of which scared off one stalwart who returned to the hostel.
In this picture, taken from above the tarn, there’s a Grade 1 scramble called Jack’s Rake. That was one of the routes and some of us climbed it. Not the younger ones surprisingly. They thought we pensioners had fewer years to lose. They opted for the longer, easier, safer walk to the top.
We all survived.
Someone heard that there was only one bottle of 6X at the hostel and sped off, leading the way along the ridges to Hel Crag and down to home.
Cloudless skies in the Lake District at Easter. Whoever heard of that?
Grasmere to Little Langdale
[This walk was led by Andy and apparently it traversed the pretty lowland area of Little Langdale with a stop to explore the Cathedral Caves , then went onto Elterwater and back over a bit of a hill to Grasmere. Has anyone anything more to add? – ed.]
This would have been great fun to watch as Toby, Belinda and Pete indulged in jumping off rocks and sliding down waterfalls. Miraculously, all came home in one piece. There are some great ‘caption competition’ pics amongst these.
Easedale Tarn – in a more challenging incarnation than on Thursday
Contributed by Lou
According to some IOG members, this was only half a walk, but in its favour it allowed for two lunch stops and an early finish at the pub.
We met some other IOGers at Easedale Tarn who had strolled up earlier.
After lounging around for a while, we proceeded further uphill to the ridge behind Blea Crag. Some discussion was had about the origins of the grassy mounds. Theories included glacial deposits, fallen rocks, and mining slagheaps. Where was our geologist when we needed her? The two lunch stops were taken on the ridge, which met with some ridicule due to the short distance between them.
A short stroll later and we were at the tarns just south of Lang How. These were recommended as a prominent navigational feature and so they were, being surrounded by rather boggy terrain. Due to either good luck or good planning, the bogs were drier than usual and we managed to follow the path without getting wet feet. As previously mentioned, we were back at the pub in good time and enjoyed a couple of pints before returning to the hostel.
Helm Crag at a Steady Pace
Contributed by Peter F.
This walk was led by Karen – with son Bruce, Maria and writer- using IOG map 4 and the Grasmere map from the village shop.
From Thorney How we gently climbed past Lancrigg and Whitecrag. After that it became tougher. We climbed very slowly and reached the summit after 2 hours. There were beautiful views all round and it was good to watch the traffic on the A591 a mile away.
From the summit we decided that going back the same route would be too steep so we proceeded towards Gibson Knott until we found the footpath down into Easedale. That was also quite steep in places, with some boggy areas, but in Easedale valley we found a stream to bathe our feet in, and relax for while. The footpath into Grasmere was very pleasant so we had delicious shandies in the village .
The toughest mountain I have ever climbed… [you put me to shame, Pete – ed.]
[About this one I know nothing , beyond what can be seen in Francis’ pics – green, green, green. Francis appears to be a wildlife whisperer, or has something tempting in his rucksack – ed.]
Steel Fell and Helm Crag Ridge
This was another of Lou’s walks – with absolutely smashing scenery, as can be seen from the pics.
Pete E. reports:
I had spent the first day of our Lake District adventure on an epic trek led by Rachael, with many familiar faces. It was great fun, though plenty exhausting. After a day’s respite, jumping in and out of ghylls, I was ready to dive back into a group walk but decided that the more leisurely tramp around Steel Fell, Calf Crag and approaching Helm Crag that Lou had proposed seemed just the ticket. Having heard stories of the scary scrambling the elites had done the previous day, I was now too scared to volunteer for the tough walk of the day. Clearly I made the right call, as we were joined by Steve who must have been thinking along similar lines.
It was a pleasant circular route, starting from the hostel in Grasmere, though things took a very downward turn initially when one of our number sustained an incredibly painful ankle injury on one of the roads leading to Fairy Glen. After looking it over, and being threatened by some mean-looking cows who wandered over out of curiosity, it was decided best not to push on with an injury and so a return trip to the hostel was embarked upon … our number was reduced by one, therefore, before we even made it to the first hill.
Fortunately, the rest of the day was much less exciting … Lou led us carefully and confidently up on to the ridge and onward to Steel Fell. The views were sublime and the walk was a dream – Steve and I spent most of it agog at the idea of multiple rest stops up the climb. Lou continued the theme by bringing us along to Calf Crag and providing not only two separate lunch stops, but a tasty dose of Easter chocolate to boot! The views were spectacular and by the time we reached Helm Crag, we had plenty of energy for climbing to get some epic selfies from the top of the peak.
Of course, no walk with Lou is complete without a trip to a pub, so we eventually ended up coming down to Tweedies in Grasmere, for a tasty dinner and some refreshments. Loved it!
Easter chocolate on Steel Fell
Approaching Helm Crag
The kings of Helm Crag
And finally – an activity to which we could all relate
Anne has kindly contributed a few lines of praise for what became an institution, a spot to gather after walks – taxing or trifling – queue endlessly for a drink (though Anne suggests Trevor’s solution for that one) and then deconstruct the day. Great times!
ODE DE TWEEDIES
Wonderful weather, stunning scenery, walks galore,
What other delights could one ask for?
“Brilliant beers”, I hear you say,
“Well-deserved after trekking all day.”
We all worked up an avid thirst,
But who would arrive at Tweedies Bar first?
Even with ludicrously long queues,
It was well worth the wait to sample their booze.
Beers to suit every taste,
As long as we were not in haste.
Well, out of the many drinks to rave about,
My favourite was Mokka Milk Stout.
At 6.8% a tipple to be sipped,
Yet the first pint too easily downwards slipped.
Then came the dilemma: what next?
The thought of the bar queue left me quite vexed.
A valuable lesson soon learnt from Trevor:
Buy two pints at a time. How clever!
That solution worked well for my favourite stout
Until, shock horror, the Mokka ran out!
Pleased to report other beers were soon on sale
To ensure a happy end to my tale.
My final treacly, chocolatey beer
Was a fine way to end our sessions of good cheer.
Anne offers Steve a taste of her ‘treacly, chocolatey beer ‘
Not much enthusiasm here
But Steve is always a gentleman
Delightful company, chilled chatter,
There’s nothing like having a good natter
With outdoor friends who made the weekend such fun
Be it hiking up mountains or just enjoying the sun.
Gathered round a pub table at the end of the day
Beer in hand and in mouth, an excellent IOG trip away.
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.
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.
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 £5 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.