Text contributed by Anni; pictures by Simon, Anni and Ian; route by Sarah and Simon.
On a beautiful, soft, late January morning, twenty-six humans and two dogs met at Snape Maltings for Sarah and Simon’s ten- or six-mile walk. Twenty-four were established IOG members and we welcomed two newcomers.
Distinctive in the Suffolk landscape, Snape Maltings on the banks of the River Alde is a great location for bird watchers, walkers, cyclists, and anyone partial to tea and cake. It has sufficient parking and toilet facilities to warrant a comfortable start to any walk. The grounds contain galleries, restaurants and independent shops, as well as the Snape Maltings Concert Hall, established by Benjamin Britten and containing several performance spaces.
We initially followed the Suffolk Coast Path along the Alde towards Iken Cliffs, and then headed inland towards Tunstall Forest. It was a beautiful hazy-sunshine kind of day and we all felt the benefits of the warm weather.
We passed plenty of pigs in the first couple of miles including some delightful piglets, always curious and a joy to watch. We also got friendly with a long-haired pig, which led to a debate about pig breeds. [Ed.: Still not sure what breed it was – answers on a postcard please.]
Tunstall Forest is always a joy, with the trees providing a sense of security and calm. We stopped for lunch at Blaxhall Common. Some of the felled trees doubled up nicely as benches to sit on for eating lunch, and Lou very kindly shared some of his delicious and delightfully boozy Christmas cake. Get your orders in early for this year!
Refreshed and rested, we carried on through Gromford and Snape Warren. Shortly after lunch, some people and the two dogs departed, having opted for the shorter walk, while the rest of us negotiated some short sections of road-walking during the second half. With good folk able to voice-project at the front and back of the group, we made sure we were all safe and no harm came to any drivers either.
We then rejoined the River Alde and returned to Snape Maltings. As you near the Maltings, it’s hard to miss Barbara Hepworth’s ‘Family of Man’ statue (see picture below). Henry Moore’s ‘Working Model for Reclining Figure’ is also worth having a look at on the lawn just beside the performance hall.
Some of us later enjoyed the hospitality at the The Ship pub in Blaxhall for a post-walk drink.
All in all, a grand day out. Thanks to Sarah and Simon for leading and being troopers as always. It must be like herding cats some days!
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