Text and pics contributed by Simon.
“Aaah! I thought you said there were no stinging nettles?”
On Saturday a happy band of IOG members set off from Ipswich to walk the 8½ miles to Woodbridge. It wasn’t planned to be the longest walk we had ever done, but this one was a bit different. On arrival in Woodbridge we would begin a leisurely pub crawl around a selection of varied drinking-holes.
Our morning meeting point was near Ipswich hospital. Some folk turned up with full walking kit, carrying rucksacks and prepared for every eventuality. Others had decided to travel light, obviously focussing on the pub crawl part of the day. I brought a hat. The 10am start time arrived and 16 of us headed off towards Rushmere St Andrew. The plan was to head north and join the Fynn Valley Path towards Martlesham, then join the Sandlings Way into Woodbridge.
Many of us had obviously walked this way before. There was not much ‘leading’ required, apart from a couple of gentle course corrections we walked on ‘auto-pilot’ most of the way. A few days earlier I had walked the route to check how overgrown the paths were. Having found it largely clear I sent out an email declaring it ‘largely nettle-free’ and ‘shorts-friendly’. A few of our group interpreted this to mean the path was totally clear and at least 2 metres wide all the way. This was not the case. Some of us then proceeded to walk through any isolated clumps of thistles or nettles they could find. Any scratches or stings were of course my fault…
As we walked through lovely Suffolk countryside past fields of cows, at one point the footpath narrowed considerably to take us alongside an electric fence. Fortunately no one tested to see if it was working.
After 2¼ hours walking we arrived at the Martlesham Red Lion pub for a brief drink and loo stop. This was not technically part of the official pub crawl, but a few beers were drunk here as a warm-up for the main event later. We were slightly ahead of schedule at this point and the conversation flowed freely. Tony told us about his forthcoming trip to Poland. His mangled pronunciation of Polish place names amused our native Polish speakers. The general advice seemed to be write down the place names or you could be inadvertently asking for a sausage rather than directions to the next town.
We left the pub and joined the Sandlings Way, soon walking alongside Martlesham Creek. The tide was in and the water was very high. I was asked a few times if we would be OK going round Kyson Point at high tide. ‘Yes, no problem’, I said with my fingers firmly crossed behind my back. Fortunately when we turned the corner at Kyson Point the muddy beach/riverbank was largely dry.
All that was then left was to walk along the tarmac path alongside the River Deben into Woodbridge. The sun was shining and we were getting thirsty. A few of the group (the sensible ones?) chose to leave us when we got to Woodbridge and headed off home. The rest of us walked to The Cherry Tree Inn, officially Pub One. We arrived bang on schedule at 2pm. This was our planned lunch stop for the day. Burgers, salads and fish and chips ‘lined’ our stomachs in preparation for the pub crawl.
There were a few wasps around and they seemed to be largely attracted to the same people who had been scratched or stung by nettles earlier. Debbie was stung by a wasp. There was a brief discussion about sucking the ‘venom’ out. But then she told us where she had been stung and we decided against it.
Some IOG members met us in The Cherry Tree for lunch, planning only to do the pub crawl. At 3.30 we headed off to Pub Two. All of the pubs were reasonably close to each other and they each had their own individual charm. They all had differing definitions of the term ‘beer garden’ so we could sit outside all afternoon and into the evening. Some members of the group joined us later on the route.
8pm saw us arrive in our last pub of the day, Pub Six – The Anchor – picked because it is close to the train station and taxis. After our final drink a group of us waved goodbye to the others and caught the 9.18 train back to Ipswich. The rest had rather sensibly arranged lifts home.
A good time was had by all. There were a few requests to make this a regular event. Maybe next year…?
PUB 1 – The Cherry Tree
73 Cumberland St, Woodbridge IP12 4AG
PUB 2 – The Kings Head
17 Market Hill, Woodbridge IP12 4LP
PUB 3 – The Angel
2 Theatre St, Woodbridge IP12 4NE
PUB 4 – Ye Olde Bell and Steelyard
103 New St, Woodbridge IP12 1DZ
PUB 5 – The Old Mariner
26 New St, Woodbridge IP12 1DX
PUB 6 – The Anchor
19 Quay St, Woodbridge IP12 1BX