Gosbeck Ground-breaker – Sunday 15th January

Text and photos by Patrick Meehan

In his pre-walk email, walk leader Glen Richards posed the question: “So where’s Gosbeck?” And answered by revealing it was about 7.5 miles from central Ipswich, and just a bit further on from Henley or Coddenham. The attraction of this walk however, was not a promise of historical treasures, architectural splendours or agricultural delights, but that Gosbeck was a rarity – an area the IOG had not previously trekked; at least not in Glen’s remembrance of walks over the past 10 years. Hence the ‘ground-breaker’ billing.

Walking in fields west of Ashbocking, Suffolk

A rural walk of just over seven miles duration, the meeting point was the car park at Gosbeck Village Community Hall on Helmingham Road, where a one-off parking payment had been negotiated for today’s group – which comprised an enthusiastic 29 persons, and one happy dog.

Prior to departing promptly at 10:30AM, there was a health and safety briefing as well as a description of the basic route. Although ‘some muddy fields’ were forewarned, at walk’s end a number of people suggested they had collected sufficient quantities of the brown sticky stuff on their boots to start a small horticultural business. More proof, if it were needed, of the opportunities and benefits of walking in the great outdoors.

For the most part, our adventure was through pleasant rolling countryside, past isolated dwellings, taking in hilltop vistas and the extensive Gosbeck Wood. We also passed Ashbocking Hall, and visited the nearby All Saints Church, churchyard and folly.

Folly near All Saints Churchyard, Ashbocking, Suffolk

An unexpected bonus along the route were the greetings we received from the local fauna; near Gosbeck village we had an enthusiastic welcome from a very friendly donkey (Monty, pictured at top), who shared board and lodgings with his diminutive Shetland pony pals (Larry & Barry).

Further along the track we encountered a somewhat bedraggled-looking shaggy pony (Rapscallion), and as we passed a pink, thatched home on Helmingham Road, a very excited cocker-spaniel resident hailed us, urging us on to one last effort as we neared the end of our adventure.

Larry & Barry, near Gosbeck village

The weather held, as forecast. The threat of rain was largely an empty one, although the clouds did try to squeeze out a small shower as we skirted Crowfield village. The temperature of 6°C felt much lower though, driven as it was by a 20mph south-westerly, and this saw most people wearing gloves and waterproof jackets, although the blow abated considerably in the last hour of the walk.

The pink house, near Helmingham, Suffolk

A post-walk visit to the Sorrel Horse at Barham was a perfect end to a fine, cobweb-removing rural Sunday ramble.