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.