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.

Le Tour, Chamonix trip – 1st-8th July

Intro by Editor.

At the beginning of July, twenty IOGers traipsed across the continent – literally by plane, train and automobile – to Le Tour, Chamonix, to stay in a spacious chalet with glorious views down the valley and up towards Mont Blanc. Many thanks to Glenys who once again took on the arduous role of organising the many aspects of a group trip away.

Chalet Les Seracs, Le Tour

In mind was a week of challenging walks in a beautiful area, lots of good food and drink and plenty of laughs and camaraderie. I can safely say that these goals were surpassed. Even the weather, after a shaky start on the first day, was flawless. A bit too hot sometimes? Round the corner there would be a breeze fresh off a glacier or even a glacial lake – of which, naturally, the loony ‘Anglaises’ took full advantage.

After long days outdoors, we were treated to a series of great evening meals by the various teams, who planned shorter walks for those days to make time for shopping and prep – and an extraordinary amount of food and wine was consumed with a clear conscience after hours on the go. The shopping trips were epic.

Towards the end of each evening conversation would become increasingly animated as people tried to decide what to do the next day: maps were flapped, suggestions made, lies told about the ease with which a proposed walk could be achieved, minds changed, and changed again, voices rose – it was all a lot of fun. And people (mostly) suited their plans to their puff and inclination (in my case mostly the least incline available, or even no incline at all).

As so many different walks were accomplished, I leave it to the various participants to tell their stories – beginning with Anne’s outline of a typical day in the mountains…

A Typical(?) Day for the Chamonix Crew

Words and pics by Anne.
1) Get up, take in beautiful Alpine views from chalet balcony, and enjoy leisurely (generally) cooked breakfast courtesy of Marie-Louise and her breakfast band, including best scrambled eggs ever. Reinforced by plentiful sustenance, pack up lunch and prepare for day out somewhere.
2) Walk/take local bus/local train/cable car up/down/across mountains in local area.
3) Very welcome lunch stops in a variety of locations, most with amazing views.
4) Further walking, eventually finding our way back to the chalet, some via a circuitous route into Switzerland and claims they had been kidnapped by the bus driver, but most via a pub/bar for a very welcome cold beer (or two).
5) Cool down in a nearby plunge pool – a wonderful find in a fast-flowing river a short stroll from the chalet. The temperature literally took your breath away but was so welcome after a strenuous day’s walking in the mountains in high temperatures – excellent antidote to aching legs. Tootling back through the village in swim gear, towelling robes and flip flops provided amusement for the locals.
6) Warm up in the chalet’s hot tub, reflecting on the day’s events, life, the universe and everything.
7) Aperitifs – beers and wine galore. How many wine boxes did we get through?
8) Delicious evening meal provided by a different team each day. Hierarchy of teams comprised chef, sous-chef, sous-sous-chef, Paul. Menus were varied and portions very generous.
9) Entertainment. The chalet had its own home cinema but we preferred to amuse ourselves, quite literally with Glen’s hilarious stand-up comic gig, a French sing-song with Miriam demonstrating her skills on the violin, Miriam and Jayne trying out their newly-acquired cowbells, and a rather sobering British citizenship quiz. Results of the latter concluded that only 1 out of the 20 of us qualified to be let back into the UK.
10) Discuss ideas for next day then fall into bed exhausted but happy/merry/sloshed.

Day Two (03/07) – Tête de Balme Walk

Words and pics by Lou.

Click here for interactive map: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/tete-de-balme-03-07-1

The weather had cleared, so Lou had a cunning plan. We would walk from the chalet up the hill behind us, but not by the direct route. Thus it was that we set off in the opposite direction to climb slowly towards the western end of les Frettes ridge, from where we headed off north-easterly with stunning views across the valley to the Mont Blanc massif. Lunch with a view was taken at l’Aguillette des Posettes (2201m). We then descended slightly to the Col des Posettes before climbing again to our high point of the day at Tete de Balme (2321m). Here we stood with one foot in France and one foot in Switzerland. The return journey was downhill all the way, with a short break at the Refuge du Col de Balme. Our legs took a while to recover.

Day Two (03/07) – Paul & Steve Seek Refuge (Albert Premier)

Contributed by Paul.

Various routes from Le Tour to Refuge Albert 1

You might wonder why we were seeking refuge? Wonderful food and excellent company were available to excess during the recent trip to Le Tour in the French Alps, plus a (very) hot tub. What’s not to like is the obvious question, but Albert had a refuge and we decided to seek it!

Some of our travelling companions had taken the Charamillon gondola and the Col de Balme chairlift the previous day, and then enjoyed [or endured – Ed.] the walk to the Refuge Albert 1er. It’s located above the Glacier du Tour, on its right bank, and is the only shelter run by the CAF Chamonix that can be reached without going on a glacier. At a height of 2,702m, it affords magnificent views of Aiguille du Tour, Grande Fourche, Chardonnet, Aiguille d’Argentière, La Verte, Le Drus and the Aiguilles Rouge. If you’re wondering about the title, it’s named after the King of Belgium, Albert 1st, a mountaineer who died climbing near Namur. Those who had taken the route on the first walking day were so positive about it – and the views – that Steve and I decided we had to see it for ourselves.

After a magnificent breakfast, we set off. No gondola or chairlift for us. Common sense is a quality possessed by many hillwalkers, but not by all of them. Le Tour is at a height of 1,453m, so we had something of a climb ahead of us. Beautiful weather; blue skies and sunshine made for a very rewarding if rather thirsty excursion. Initially, we followed the route of the gondola and then cut off towards the refuge. The path was a little tricky in places and became a bit of a scramble near the refuge, but it was fun and added to the feeling of achievement upon arrival. Being called ‘young men’ by a guide as we zipped past his group made two old codgers feel rather sprightly!

After eating our lunch, we enjoyed a coffee in the sunshine, and bothered a few of the other people also enjoying the location. This included a couple of hillwalkers from the Netherlands (possibly even flatter than Suffolk), an English lady munching her way through the biggest cheese platter ever seen, and an instructor about to take his party onto the glacier (wearing jeans)!

After a baking hot descent, the chalet’s hot tub was very relaxing. A brilliant day was subsequently rounded off by a little alcohol and plenty of bonhomie, plus some wonderful grub (courtesy of the cooking team of the day).

A wonderful trip. Thanks to everyone – the organisers, the chefs, the fellow walkers, and my room-mate.

Day Three (04/07) – Lac Vert Walk

Words and pics by Lou

Lou and Anne made use of their car to drive to the start of this walk in Servoz, the other side of Chamonix from our chalet. The walk was described in one of the books that people had brought, and it looked to offer a slightly different perspective.

Link to interactive map: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/lac-vert-04-07-17

We set off through the village of Servoz, taking the old road which rose steeply and crossed the zigzags of the new road at several points along the way. Eventually the road ran out and a forest track took us on towards the lake. The vert (green) of the name comes from the reflections of the surrounding pine trees. We spent a long time waiting for the water to become calm to get a good photo with Mont Blanc reflected but too many people insisted on paddling.

For the return leg, we took the option of following a trail through the woods that was marked variously with pink dots on the trees and wooden boards shaped like snowshoes. It turned out to be easier to follow than I had feared, and the compass was not needed.

Day Three (04/07) – Le Tour to Vallorcine via Montroc

Words and pics by M-L

This is a sweet, short walk that about twelve of us did in the morning on Tuesday before going our various ways in the afternoon.

Glenys, Dave and I did the same route at the same time last year before taking a gondola ride from Vallorcine up to Col de Balme and then wandering back down through flowery high meadows to Montroc. But last year they had the final snows at the end of June so spring was very late and the flowers were astonishing. This year the brief season was coming to an end, and we passed on the gondola.

We started out from the chalet – X marks the spot- strolled down the hill to Montroc and then followed a short path up to the pretty hamlet of Tré le Champ.

From there we took winding paths through woods and meadows, pausing briefly at a visitor’s centre en route to try and identify the various animals we had seen from the stuffed versions behind glass, and finished up under some trees picnicking in Vallorcine before a pint in the station café and trains to various destinations.

Not every hike was testing – this one was literally a walk in a park. On the other hand, what follows are two reports on the route to  the Lacs des Chéserys taken by two different groups on succeeding (and successful) days.

Day Four (05/07) – Le Tour to Lacs des Chéserys

Words – Jayne; map – Lou.

Link to route map: https://www.alltrails.com/explore/recording/lacs-des-cheserys-06-07-17

With Glenys planning a walk to the Lacs de Cheserys, Steve, Paul and I decided to join her. We began with a stroll down to Montroc from the chalet and then took a steep track up to Lac Blanc in 27C heat. My motivation was that it promised an encounter with ibex and some ladders. However, a third of the way up the first section I was becoming emotional at the thought of the task ahead; thoughts of turning back flashed through my mind as I watched Glenys, Steve and Paul stepping out ahead and realised I was the weakest link! But instead we took more breaks in the shade where we could, drinking plenty of water.

[David and I watched their tiny figures from the balcony of the chalet until they disappeared – drinking coffee and enjoying the view. And then I took myself to lunch at my favourite local restaurant: à chacun son gout – Ed.]

As we started to clear the first section the trees thinned and the landscape became rockier; there was also a breeze which reduced the heat. Once I could see the ladder section ahead of us my spirits lifted as this was the first thing I was looking forward to. We stopped for lunch (part one) to get some rest before ascending 12 ladders (we think it was 12, though no one thought to count them at the time) and passing across a tricky ledge with a hand rail. On and on it went till we reached the monument and there standing grazing was an ibex – which was the second thing I was hoping to see and how exciting! Well it was for Glenys and me but Paul and Steve had lunch (part two) on their minds! We had a break…Steve had a nap.

Then we headed off and up to the Lacs des Chéserys and when we arrived we did what most English people would do (except Paul who took photos [which sounds a bit creepy but I’m sure it wasn’t – Ed.]): we stripped off, wriggled into swimwear and got in. Cold but refreshing and amusing to the passing French. Once dry it was up another steep slope to the refuge hut by Lac Blanc. A cold drink was enjoyed to celebrate our 900 metre ascent but not for long as Glenys had discovered that the sign to La Flégère cable car said the route took 1 hour 10 mins, and the last cable car would be leaving in 40 mins.

A quick photo in the snow and then we ran down the hill, rock hopping all the way. As we got closer more people were also running so it became a big race not be left on the mountain to descend the steep 800 or more meters on foot. For us it would also mean a 9 km walk back to Le Tour as we would then miss the last bus. We made it with just 5 mins to spare. What a relief it was to be in that cable car!

And then back to enjoy the hot tub and reflect on what a great walk it had been thanks to our leader Glenys. It was a magical walk and the views throughout were so beautiful that they more than compensated for any effort made.

[The next day Lou and Anne took a slightly abridged version of the same route, and Lou’s report follows – Ed.]

Day Five (06/07) – Ladders and Handrails: Lacs des Chéserys again

Words and pics by Lou

This walk started with a dash to the bus stop and finished with a dash to the cable car, much like a lot of our other walks. However, the difference with this one was that it included a section of ladders and handrails – a bit like “go ape” but without the safety equipment.

It started off pleasantly enough, with a long walk up through the forest northwest of Argentière. As we got further up, the rocky crags looked more and more impenetrable. After a rest stop at the Aiguillette d’Argentière watching some climbers, we tackled the echelles (ladders). Some of them were almost vertical and you needed a good grip and an even better head for heights. It made for an exciting route, and soon afterwards we could relax at the Tete des Vents, where they had thoughtfully placed a large concrete cairn for people to shelter from the wind. Luckily there was very little wind this day, and we strolled on to the Lacs des Chéserys.

Anne found a lake all to herself for a very brief (cold) swim. With little time to spare, we missed out the more popular Lac Blanc and headed off down the Grand Balcon Sud to the La Flégère cable car. The views across the valley to the Mont Blanc massif were stunning.

Day Five (06/07) – Taking it easy on the Grand Balcon Sud

Words and pics by M-L

 

Map of route (Hilary Sharp 2016)

On this second-last day in the Alps, four of us decided to do the section of the Grand Balcon Sud between La Flégère and Planpraz, taking it slowly and stopping to smell the flowers. Sally, Kirsty and Angela all deserved an easy day, having tackled some “tough stuff”; and I personally don’t like any other kind. So we set off at a gentle pace from the top of the La Flégère cable car for one of the prettiest yet also spectacular walks nearby Chamonix (particularly for those who don’t like scrambling over treeless moraine).

It took about an hour longer than the suggested time of two hours and we arrived in Planpraz in perfect shape for a refreshing beer.

Raising a glass to the ubiquitous Mont Blanc

And then it was up the cable car to Le Brévent at 2,525m to eat our picnic lunches with our feet (almost) dangling into the abyss of the valley leading down to Saint Gervais les Bains. Ain’t life grand?!

 

 

[And then a report from the final group to head for Lac Blanc on the last walking day.]

Day Six (07/07) – Lac Blanc Revisited

Contributed by Karen

I was planning a relaxing end to the trip; a stroll into Argentière, catching the bus to Chamonix for souvenir shopping, back to Argentière in time for lunch with the ladies [see next report] and then on to Le Tour to see the sheep being driven down the valley. I was, however, persuaded into one last trip up a mountain and Paul’s promise of a gentle walk – “virtually flat” – to Lac Blanc.

Four of us set off on the bus from Le Tour to La Flégère cable car station where we ascended to the mid station. Our “gentle walk” started from the top of the cable car and it soon became apparent that I had been duped. It was in fact a climb of approximately 500 metres to Lac Blanc. Paul kept assuring me that we were nearly there and that I’d virtually be able to see the lake soon but we made it in the end and it was a lovely spot. Steve took a refreshing dip before we all had a drink at the refuge. We ate our lunch by the lake before returning down the track. It was too late to do too much else by the time we arrived at the top of the cable car so we had another drink while taking in the views before returning down the mountain. We caught the bus back to Le Tour fitting in another drink on the way back to the chalet – tired but happy.

Not exactly the day I had planned but a good end to the week in Chamonix nonetheless, with plenty of banter along the way.

Day Six (07/07) – Les Grands Montets & Glacier Argentière

Words and pics – M-L

The take-it-easy team assembled again to ‘do’ Les Grands Montets on our last full day in the Alps, sadly minus Angela who went home one day early. From the village of Argentière, we took the Lognan cable car to a height of 1,972m and then got off to traverse the hillside to the Glacier d’Argentière, a short upward slope for breathtaking rewards.

Then it was onto the  Grands Montets chair lift which took us to a suddenly very chilly 3,300m at the foot of the Aiguille Verte. As we got off we bumped into Andy and Kate coming down – the area was simply infested with IOGers. As they had already clambered down (and then up) the very long flight of metal stairs to sample what is described as “a snowy wonderland” in the tourist bumf, and as we decided, from on high, it looked like a small dirty field of slush at the end of winter, we eschewed that delight and directed our gaze up to the lookout:”That’s just a bit of meccano pinned to a rock,” said Kirsty. Height is a funny thing. 3,300m can make some people ill and dizzy, others experience little effect at all, while I feel – not unreasonably – high. Pleasantly wobbly and giggly. But definitely not up to negotiating “a bit of meccano pinned to a rock” – not put like that. So we repaired to the little snack bar where the climbers attacking the Aguille Vert could be viewed in awed comfort.

Last year I walked the 800m descent into Argentière from Lognan. It was dull, straight and steep, and my knees told me about it for a week. This year the three of us switched from the Grands Montets to the Lognan téléphérique and descended effortlessly into warm, sunny Argentière and actually hurried to my favourite local restaurant, Le P’tit Vert – where, in the spirit of the IOG, we dined outdoors. A delicious farewell lunch of croûte au fromage, followed by an indigenous version of chicken and chips – like no chicken and chips available in the UK – and various wicked puds. This would require a nap in the afternoon to work it off, but first there was the start of the transhumance from Le Tour – when the flocks and herds are driven up into the high pastures for a month or two of gorging on alpine herbs and grasses. This one involved around 1,200 sheep and goats and one donkey – and watching what is an age old routine in that part of the world seemed a very fitting way to say goodbye to a wonderful week.

 

Jim’s Shotley Peninsular Walk – Sunday 25th June

Words and pics contributed by Jim Grundy.

Walk route.

After the last fortnight’s heatwave and my grave warning to bring our own body weight in water, we met at the agreed time outside Shotley Village Hall to be presented with a cool breezy and somewhat cloudy morning.

 

Fourteen of us in all and a warm welcome to another two new members, Boyd and Lorraine.

 

We set off on time at 10 am and completed the first five-mile stretch (Shotley to St Mary’s Church, Harkstead) in very good time, probably walking briskly as it was such a cool start.There was a brief break en route at Erwarton Ness where we sat on a bit of shingly beach.

Ewarton Ness

 

Our first lunch stop was at St Mary’s Harkstead where we met up with Miriam and a Spanish lady called Christina who is on a volunteering visit at Old Hall. The sun then decided to come out and the humidity rose quickly.

Lunch stop at St Mary’s Harkstead

 

Just after leaving St Mary’s we walked through a paddock with horses which comes to a style and a short section of field before crossing into Lovers Lane. A big boo hiss! to the person who has attempted to block the entrance to the field with a fallen tree. It looks deliberately placed there to prevent access so it is not a coincidence or an accident, but we were able with a little difficulty to climb over it (see photo). Totally out of order!

Difficult access to field

 

Enjoying the view

 A brief two-mile walk on the road to Chelmondiston, where we were rewarded with a drink stop at the Butt and Oyster pub at Pinn Mill. It was an interesting spectacle at the pub as I have never seen such a high tide covering the benches and public loos and literally lapping up to the beer garden wall.

On the road to Chelmondiston
All refreshed after a nice drink

 

Then an approx. five-mile stretch along the banks of the Orwell to take in a magnificent view of the estuary overlooking Felixstowe and Harwich; a pity that by then the weather had closed in again and was fairly cloudy and dark because I have seen the view on a bright and sunny day and it is spectacular.

 

We said goodbye to Glenn and his friend Simon as they were taking the ferry back to Harwich then walked inland past Shotley Church, where the commonwealth war graves were a point of interest. Finally we strolled back along the Old Hall road to Shotley village hall, arriving just after 4pm. A good day out.

Shotley Evening Walk – Friday 23rd June

Route map for Sarah’s Shotley evening walk. Reproduced from OS Maps. © Crown copyright. 2017.

Words and pics contributed by Sarah Sheppard

On a lovely summer’s evening, 14 walkers and 1 dog set out from outside the Bristol Arms pub for a walk around the Shotley Peninsular. We headed through the Marina and up the Stour and Orwell path alongside the River Orwell. Once we left the path to head inland, we came to Shotley Church, where we had a short break. Angela’s dog decided that he didn’t want to walk for some parts of the route so he was carried along, either in her arms or in her rucksack!

After our stop, we headed along a quiet road and back onto footpaths where we passed through Viking Forest, woodland that has been planted on land purchased by the local people in 2004. We then came out into a residential part of Shotley and crossed the main road, where we joined another path that took us down to the River Stour. Here we re-joined the Stour and Orwell path back to the Bristol Arms where we said goodbye to those that were heading straight home. The rest of us went inside for a well deserved drink and a further chat and giggle.

While in the pub, we came across a leaflet for the Arthur Ransome Walking Trail. This trail has recently been set up and the leaflet also refers to the geocaches along the trail that our very own Rachael Norris has put in place. Look out for the event on the upcoming programme where we will explore this trail and hopefully find the geocaches that Rachael has set out along the route.

Thanks to everyone that came along and made it an enjoyable evening.

Shottisham Birthday Beer Camp – 9th-11th June

Rough location of Shottisham Camp Site

Story & pics contributed by Marie-Louise

Some 30 plus IOGers assembled at Shottisham Camp Site on Friday evening for a couple of nights of fun and a good day or two of hiking around the area. I’ll leave descriptions of the walks to those who took a greater part than I did, but what is camping without the fun of getting the tents up? A  pictorial study of erecting Lou and Anne’s 3-bedroom bungalow is a taster of the joys to be had.

As everyone arrives and tents of all shapes and sizes are put up with varying degrees of hilarity, the bbqs begin to appear, the boxes of meat, the cheese kebabs, the chips and dips and salads, the usual lavish array of puds and birthday cake – this year provided by Anne: a rich, dark chocolate cake to rival Trump’s “beautiful piece of chocolate cake” but without the embarrassment of telling President Xi about US air strikes on Iraq. Oops. Syria. A lovely, gutsy evening of good food and great company – this is a really fun event on the annual calendar.

Walk Report – Saturday 10th June

Words and pics – Lou

Question: Given a choice of (a) a medium-paced 14 mile walk with no pub stops or (b) a leisurely 8 mile stroll incorporating the Ramsholt Arms, how many IOGers would opt for the latter?
Answer: 24 out of 33 (with an additional 2 going for a more direct shorter route).

After the 3rd recount, I decided that there were indeed 24 of us, and we sauntered off via the church and allotments. The first obstacle confronted us in the next field, where FB was marked on the map but in reality required a leap of faith across a muddy expanse of water. Perhaps FB in this case means “Fill your Boots”, as some of us did. The route to the estuary took us via the coralline crag of Sutton Knoll (marked on the OS map as Rockhall Wood). A notice board informed us of its fascinating history.

The sun beat down on us as we waded through wildflower meadows (and some nettles – people wearing shorts had been warned) to reach the Deben estuary with a view upstream to Waldringfield.
A short walk downstream took us to Ramsholt Beach, where we stopped for lunch part 1 and watched the tide come in.

Continuing downstream, we arrived at the Ramsholt Arms for a leisurely break (well, a leisurely break for most of us – Rachael and Torben changed into wetsuits for an hour’s swim). It seemed that everyone wanted to buy me a drink at this point, but I couldn’t quite manage 23 pints.

Thirsts quenched, we headed inland via Ramsholt Church and its strangely shaped tower – it looks square on approaching from the South but is actually round on closer inspection. A short bit of road was unavoidable, but it was a pleasant off-road route most of the way back to the campsite. I think I would have got away with a slight detour off the planned route had I not mentioned it at the time – I put that down to the beer and conversation.

 

YHA Langdale weekend – 26th-29th May

As usual, during the weekend in the Lakes District people split into different groups doing different things. I am publishing the reports as they come in and, hopefully, they wind up as some sort of coherent story of ‘what went on’!

We begin with Lou’s report of his Saturday walk.

Over Lingmoor to the ODG – Saturday 27th May

Reproduced from OS Maps. © Crown copyright. 2017

Story and photos  contributed by Lou.

Having arrived at YHA Langdale in unusually hot and humid conditions, the IOG were studying various weather forecasts and pondering the exact timing of the impending storm. Come the morning of the 27th, the consensus seemed to be that the rain would hold off until the afternoon. Whilst the more sensible folk planned a short morning walk returning to the hostel, Lou decided that it was worth risking the climb over Lingmoor Fell (469m), timing it so that we were safely down in the Old Dungeon Ghyll before the rain arrived. Thus 8 hardy folk climbed up past various abandoned quarry workings to admire the workmanship of the summit wall. Although there is no path marked on the OS map, the summit traverse followed a (mostly) good path along the wall.

A sheltered spot was found for lunch, with good views across to the Langdale Pikes. Some dark clouds threatened us from above on a couple of occasions, but the walk went to plan and sure enough the ODG welcomed us in the Great Langdale Valley. After introducing the group to the delights of Old Peculier, we set off on the valley path back towards the hostel. The route passed a further 4 pubs and it would have been ideal to shelter in one of them when the rain arrived. However, we got caught about a mile before Chapel Stile and arrived at the Wainwright Inn fairly wet.

In summary, a 9.5 mile walk with 400m of ascent, good views and plenty of good pubs.

Mike’s Loughrigg Fell Walk – Saturday 27th May

Story and pics contributed by Mike Emmerson.

This was one of the shorter walks taken on Saturday –  a five-mile trek. The weather was lovely and we set off along Loughrigg Terrace with views out towards Grasmere Lake and town. We then came to Rydal Water with Heron Island in the middle.
An ice cream van provided a good place to stop at Pelter Bridge. We then proceeded up the road beside the River Rothay to the hardest climb on the walk. We were all knackered by the time we got to the top so a sandwich break seemed appropriate. On the way back Loughrigg Tarn was a lovely peaceful spot.
Thanks are due to Bob for helping me not to get lost!

Climbing Scafell Pike – Sunday 28th May

Words and pics contributed by Sarah Sheppard.

View from the top of Scafell Pike.

My main objective for organising our trip to YHA Langdale was to climb Scafell Pike, following climbing Snowdon on our trip to Snowdonia on the same weekend last year. Four IOGer’s therefore set out early in order to tackle this mountain on the nicest day of the weekend, on what turned out to be a very long but successful day. As we were climbing from the Langdale side, as opposed to the more touristy Wasdale Head side, the route was much quieter as well as offering some great scenery along the way.

One of the steepest sections, up to Angle Tarn, was very hard going and I questioned myself several times. However once that part was behind us, it was a little easier going for a while and I was enjoying myself. The final push up to the top was very steep and slippery for a while, but everyone coming down in the other direction were very encouraging, saying things like, ‘You’re nearly there,’ and ‘Not far now,’ which spurred us on.

Me, Dave, Andy and Kate therefore made it to the top of the mountain and had climbed to the Top of England! Wow, what an achievement! We took some time to take some photos at the top before starting our descent. Andy recommended that we take a slightly different route down, one that was a little longer than the way up, along a footpath called the Corridor Route. This was all so pretty and lovely to see on our long route back down. Returning to Angle Tarn, we then had the lengthy descent back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll where we had parked. Dave went off a little ahead of the three of us and therefore we found him in the pub enjoying a well deserved pint (or two!) when we arrived back.

A lovely and very successful day was had by the four of us. My thanks go to Dave, Kate and particularly Andy, who did all of the map reading, for coming with me and for their support up (and down!) the mountain. I just need to tackle Ben Nevis now to complete the set!

Langdale Pikes – Sunday 28th May

Langdale Pikes route map.

 

It would have been rude to stay in Langdale and not visit the Langdale Pikes – those knobbly projections that rise menacingly above the valley. Sunday 28th was the only fine day of the weekend, so that was the day of 3 high walks, this being one of them. The others drew larger numbers, so it was left to the three of us to enjoy (or should that be endure?). Anne and I had done this walk before but, for Stela, it was her first high walk in the Lake District.

The fine weather had drawn quite a few families out for the trek up Stickle Ghyll and we had to take care not to tread on them as they rested in the middle of the path. At Stickle Tarn, we found the Pikes shrouded in clouds – not a good sign. We rested awhile, but sure enough the forecast was right and the clouds lifted to reveal glorious views all around.

We made the ascent of Pavey Ark (700m) via “the path round the back”, to find a lunch spot with a view above the tarn and down to the valley far below. From there it was a relatively easy traverse to Harrison Stickle (736m) and Pike Of Stickle (709m). The path runs out before the summit of the latter, but it was worth the short scramble for the 360 degree views. It was at this point that Stela lay down and declared that to be quite enough climbing for one day. So it was that we missed out Loft Crag and made our way back down to the Stickle Barn for a well-earned ice-cream.

Claire’s wet Westerfield walk – Thursday 18th May

Words and pic contributed by Claire Verlander

 

It looks brighter over there, I stupidly convinced myself as I polished off the last of my lovely curry, washed down with a nice pint at Wetherspoon’s. David Bird had joined me so I didn’t eat alone.

 

Reluctantly leaving the comfort of the pub, we headed to Christchurch Mansion. I was convinced nobody would turn up on an evening like this. A lovely summer evening it was not. But 5 other brave (or mad) souls had made a real effort to come along bringing our total to 7.

 

Why am I doing this? Why am I walking in the rain? I never walk in rain!! It wasn’t normal rain either or even light drizzle. This was vertical rain with no end in sight.

 

The walk took us up through Christchurch Park and across the fields of Westerfield. We could have walked further on but the Westerfield Swan pub was calling. Like 7 drowned rats we assembled in the porch of the pub. Looking at the state of us it was obvious that some of us would have been drier if a bucket of water had been thrown at us. David decided there was no way he could squelch his way into the pub. So back into Ipswich he trudged.

 

However with the alcohol flowing, our spirits were lifted and it was a nice chance to catch up with people/put the world to rights. Nick did the sensible thing, skipping the walk and just joining us in the pub. That is why he looks so dry and clean in the attached photo. I opted to take the photo due to the state of me I think.

 

Phil had prearranged a lift back home from the pub and Susan joined him and his lift. That left four of us to walk back into Ipswich. Mark left us halfway to head off into the darkness across a field – shortcut to his home. Adrian also left us near the town to divert to home. So that left just Sarah and I to finish the trip back into Ipswich. It was still raining when, totally bedraggled and soaked through, I caught the 10 pm bus home. 

Thanks to my brave fellow walkers who ventured out on my walk. I’ve just about dried out now. Hope they have too. 

 

Jim’s Colne Estuary Walk, Sunday 21st May

Words and pics contributed by Jim Grundy

The Brief: After leaving Colchester station we cross a few busy roads then enter Castle Park and pick up a riverside path. After a mile or so, cross a main road then re-join path through some allotments and amble around the former dock area before crossing another busy road to join a continuous path, passing the pretty village of Wivenhoe and out to the mouth of the River Colne. We will stop for lunch just before the path comes to an abrupt end, and walk the same route back again.

*****

We met at Colchester Station in the usual place (everyone appears to be getting used to the “front entrance” Vs “back entrance” shenanigans at Colchester). The weather was very warm and sunny, much better than I had anticipated, and 8 of us set out on time at 10.15. Two new prospective members, Frank and Qwan, were present and very welcome they are.

We met Bob and Sarah about a mile into the walk at a convenient spot near Castle Park (so now there’s 10). We then met Nick about 3.5 miles into walk, near Essex University, bringing numbers to 11.

Arrived at the Rose and Crown pub at Wivenhoe at the predicted time of 12.25 (almost to the minute!) and took a short break (drink break for Anne! But it was only a soda ha ha). This is where Rosie left us so were back to 10, but not for long as Gerry and her brother Tony joined us. So now it was 12!

We carried on to the half-way point, a very nice raised grassy area with fantastic views of the Colne River estuary where we had our lunch.

It’s worth pointing out the last stretch of the walk follows what was the Wivenhoe to Brightlingsea branch line. It is a common misconception that this was a victim of Dr. Beeching’s cuts in the 1960s but actually the bridge crossing at Arlesford Creek was washed away in the floods of 1953 and never rebuilt. Subsequently the line rapidly fell into dilapidation. You can see still see what remains of the struts (is that the right word?) of the bridge that would have carried the train onto Brightlinsea and there’s a few photos of us playing on them (see below).

A few miles back in the direction we came and we were back at the Rose and Crown in Wivenhoe for a well-earned drink. We left Gerry, Tony, Nick, Bob and Sarah at their various exits, and the last weary travellers finally made it alive to Colchester station.

It was quite a long walk at 14 miles and I must say in the hot sun a few of us, myself included, found the last two miles pretty hard going, but we all really enjoyed it

Jazz at St Peter’s – Friday 12th May

Words Peter Farrand; pics Celia Bird.

 

The monthly Jazz performance at St Peter’s by the Waterfront enjoys the support of several regular IOG members. The May Jazz was provided by the Selion Swing Band with new IOG member Celia Bird singing and playing saxophone – and was much enjoyed by all. Apart from watching the band there is fascination in watching the audience, and how the music stirs them. Some just sit there motionless adsorbing the sounds while others fidget, tap their feet, shake their heads and generally look happy! After each number they all clap enthusiastically because we always have talented musicians.

Always a great evening – excellent location, quality jazz, crisp snacks, and beer, wine and soft drinks available from the bar – or bring your own.

It is monthly on Fridays. The next concert is 2nd June, 7:45, with Helen Abbey’s band. Come listen.

Dave’s Thornham Walk – Sunday 15th May

Pictures contributed by Stela; story by Christina Bail.

Glen and I would like to say “thank you” to David and Glenys for organising this beautiful spring walk in the ancient woodlands near Thornham Hall which we glimpsed in passing.

Prior to arriving at the car park, we were in no doubt it was going to be a good walk, but we were expecting open field spaces as is so typical in the mid-Suffolk area. Instead, we walked approx. 6 miles through mostly lush and dense woodland, on soft grassy paths; at times the shrubs and trees formed green tunnels. The grounds around Thornham Hall have been made accessible to the wider public, becoming a real attraction thanks to the efforts of the 8th Lord Henniker and his wife, Lady Henniker, who were very involved in conservation projects. There is a small visitor centre, a cafe and playground as well as a walled Victorian garden which will be open daily as from 29th May.

Around 20 walkers joined David on that day. We encountered a pretty country church with a thatched roof, rather unusual, and probably the smallest church I have ever seen. We were able to go inside and admired the altar and its stained glass windows. People commented on the pretty cushions on the otherwise hard oak benches all of which had their bespoke design.

After the walk a couple of us were probably over ambitious and decided to take a different, supposedly more scenic route back to David’s cottage where teas and biscuits were awaiting us. However, we got completely lost and finally gave up and returned home.

Lou’s Bonny Wood Walk, Saturday 13th May

 

Words and Pictures: Lou (with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

‘Twas Maytime and the IOG

From Needham Market set the course

Through Bonny Wood to bluebells see,

And retire to the Rampant Horse.

 

With a variable weather forecast, attendees had been advised to bring sun cream, hats, and wet weather gear. The day dawned grey and gloomy (groomy?), but that did not deter a good turnout of 22 people and 2 dogs. We were soon off-road, following an un-named track alongside the impressive chalk pit. We continued across fields in various state of crop, through someone’s back garden at Priestley (narrowly avoiding being mown down), to approach our objective. Bonny Wood is mostly privately owned, requiring us to circumnavigate the boundary before finding the western entrance. Here was no welcoming or informative sign, solely a warning about deer management. We were far too noisy to spot any deer, and emerged at the northern entrance, where there was a handy map to show us where we had been.

Bonny Wood was quite pleasant, but only a few bluebells were to be seen at the northern end.

Two short field boundaries and some nettles later, we dived through a gap in the hedge to find ourselves in Swingen’s Wood (or Priestley Wood as the sign declared). It was in Priestley Wood where we found the best display of bluebells (though somewhat greyer than in the photo which was taken on my pre-walk the previous week).

 

A short stretch of road brought us to Barking Church, from where we took the Causeway (Coffin Way?) back to Needham Market. The main church in Needham Market originally had no graveyard, and coffins had to be taken to Barking for burial. This magnificent tree is on the route.

I’ve sometimes wondered about walking this route in the dark, but there are too many things to trip over and bump into.

Safely back at the Rampant Horse, we sampled some of the Calvors brewery beers to support the local economy (Calvors brewery is only a few miles away and they own the pub).

Thus ended a splendid walk. I am declaring it a success as no-one got lost in the woods.