The Twenty-Milers – Steve and Francis strike again

Steve’s Ufford walk – Saturday 24th March

Story contributed by Dave T-F.; pics by Francis.

We gathered in the field behind the Ufford Lion where Dave Bird alighted amongst us – resplendent in his winter plumage. Weaving through the water meadows of the Deben Valley, we passed the bridge where Steve and I parted company with Tim McCarthy in the film Deben River! (fun for all the family!)

Continuing through a plantation of Cricket Bat Willows and onto Shottisham via a long, sandy, energy-sapping, bridle path – passing the Sorrel Horse (dismay!) – we reached the round flint tower of the Norman Church at Ramsholt with its commanding view across the Deben. As we lazed and ate our lunch with the Waller family who are buried here – their headstones all bearing the skull and crossbones: a symbol of mortality or perhaps they were all pirates – we listened to the calls of curlew and wigeon.

The sun was clearing away the cloud cover and the final leg of our walk was in sunshine along the banks of the Deben in which we basked briefly whilst two errant members were gathered back in to the fold.

Time being on our side we stopped at the National Trust café at Sutton Hoo and gorged on cake before continuing through the golf course, cutting a sinuous path through the meadows accompanied by the scolding of blackbirds in the crepuscular shadows of dusk (pretentious git!). Returning to the White Lion and dinner after a little over 20 miles.

Thank you Steve

Francis’ Sudbury to Ipswich Hike – Saturday 7th April

Pics contributed by Christina , Sarah and Francis; words by Christina.

One week prior to Francis’ walk the forecast did not look great. The thought of stomping through muddy and boggy fields in the pouring rain had little appeal and I followed the forecast days prior to the event with some apprehension, thinking I might want to pull out.

Luckily, the day promised to be OK with only a 10-15% chance of rain. On an early Saturday morning in April, ten IOGers joined Francis in the Old Cattle Market for the 8.15 bus to Sudbury. Apart from poor David B who fought with travel sickness, the majority enjoyed a jolly ride on top of the double decker bus.

We had our first stop at the Coffee Box in Boxford where I opted for a bacon roll – it was warm and absolutely delicious – and a flat white. The couple who ran the place were most surprised to learn we planned to walk 20 long miles and had not even started before visiting their café for refreshments.

Our route went from Boxford to Ipswich’Berner Street via Stoke Nayland, Stratford St Mary with a stop by the river opposite the Swan Pub, Little Wenham and Great Wenham, then returned to Ipswich via Washbrook near Copdock and alongside and through Chantry Park. Some of us were lucky enough to see a fox crossing a footpath and also four large deer crossing the path in front of us and running across a field in full view.

It felt like a true spring day, a mild and gentle breeze was in the air, sky larks were singing in the fields, and there was an abundance of primroses, daffodils, tulips and other spring flowers everywhere, bordering the woods and the ditches and growing in the cottage gardens and church yards.

It took us nine hours to complete the walk and everyone arrived at the O Patio restaurant at 6.30pm where Francis had booked a table for nine diners. We all had a lovely meal and a good laugh and giggle. The red Portuguese wine certainly helped to lift everyone’s spirits and loosen their tongues after a long walking day. The restaurant had just been opened. It was warm and cosy and it allowed its guests to look into the kitchen with the chef and staff busy at work. I made mental note to go back there one day.

It is yet to be decided whether to trust Francis’ piece of string which estimated 20.6 miles or Rachael’s GPS showing a whopping 22.5 miles. To quote our organiser, Francis, however: “I’m not impressed with the accuracy of Rachael’s electronic device”

My thanks go to Francis for organising this great walk so well and the meal afterwards.