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!