Words and map contributed by Gerry; pic by Simon.
Nineteen IOG members including Paula, on her first walk with the group, set off from Colchester Railway station at around 10.45 on a route of approximately nine miles. The weather was remarkably warm and sunny for the time of year.
We walked along through Cymbeline Meadows, following the footpath to Bakers Lane where we descended to take the tunnel under the A12. We continued around, and then across, the golf course to arrive on the outskirts of West Bergholt. Cooks Hall Farm followed and then we joined the Essex Way for three miles of strolling through gently undulating meadows along the River Colne.
Our lunch break was passed at The Shoulder of Mutton pub on Ford St in Aldham where there were plenty of picnic tables in the garden for us to eat our packed lunches in the glorious sunshine [not many publicans will countenance walkers eating picnic lunches on their premises, rather decent of them – Ed.]. We set off again past Aldham Garden Centre following the Essex Way along the Colne through more meadows and fields. Here there were beautiful displays of snowdrops to enjoy and some weird riverside plants which (unusually) even Dave Bird couldn’t identify.
The village of Chappel was approached from high fields overlooking the impressive viaduct from where we continued on down to the village to end the walk at the Swan Inn.
There were drinks and meals available in the pub although some continued on up to the station café for coffee and cake before catching the train back to Colchester.