Sunday, 24 August 2008

Stour Valley Circular – (Suffolk) – 23/08/08 – 10 miles approx – M&M IVC.

Getting the negatives out of the way first, this walk was meant to be the first of two (or three), on the IVC M&M Stour Valley walking weekend. However my total dissatisfaction with the sleeping arrangements (i.e. decibel blasting snoring) meant I wasn’t prepared to do a second night of total sleep deprivation. Therefore it turned out to be my only walk of the weekend. This of course being the sort of risk you run with cheap dorm accommodation (and I have done my fair share of it encountering similar, but not as extreme, problems with the National trust). Also it would explain why some people who have done these weekends before, choose to stay in B&B’s.

So Saturday morning found a party of ten of us (2 guys + 8 ladies) doing the smaller ten mile walk (my intention was to do the other group’s 18 miler, but I had to factor in the time for me to get back to London that evening, as well as not wanting to spend a day with the two people who had kept me awake all night). Thus a party of three cars set out to our start point, which was Shotley village hall. The route being a circular one which for the top and bottom sides of the squarish circle (work with me on this) would keep us within sight of either the River Stour or the River Orwell as they formed a bay around Stotley itself at the furthest point.

The real bonus of the day for me was that Art’s Group Sea Pea (whom I have known for about ten years, but haven’t seen for several), was along for the proceedings. Now she is someone who is always good company and whom you can pick up with immediately whatever the time gap between last meeting’s. Thus throughout the walk whenever my spirits were starting to flag due to the downer of the whole weekend sleeping situation, I would seek her out to have a few laughs with.

The early part of the walk was spent negotiating nettles and wheat (waiting for harvest) along the edge of first Cockle Creek and then Waterhouse Creek. Thus after about an hour we stopped on the beach cum mud flats to have a tea break. Admiring the various yachts floating by, we eventually came to the conclusion that some sort of race was taking place, especially as one yacht was nearly overturned due to the proximity of a competitor. However not long after we had to turn inland from the land locked side of the squarish circle (remember) leaving the River Stour behind.

Our next teabreak stop was just outside a small village church in Harkstead, which some of our number went to explore. The rest of us who were hanging around outside were contemplating a field which we were meant to cross next, which had a ‘beware of the bull’ sign on it. However everyone seemed in broad agreement that this was just a field of black bullocks, who admittedly were forming a ‘do not cross line’ in our direction. However just as we were moments from climbing into the field, a very largish black bull appeared from behind the group, sending in our direction the hardest of hard stares. Therefore there was no dissension in the ranks when it was decided to bypass that field by walking along the road instead. Further down the road we came across our second combine harvester of the day, collecting up the Weetabix. In fact this seemed to be a theme of the day, as wherever we went we came across wheat waiting to be harvested, in the process of being harvested, or bundled up having been harvested.

By the time we came to the River Orwell on the top of my squarish circle we decided it was time we thought about eating our sarnies (or smoky bacon crisps in my case). There we were able to watch another procession of yachts sailing round the bay in the opposite direction (obviously the race stragglers from the ones we saw earlier). Upon moving off there was some debate/confusion as to what constituted a wooden building and Oak tree, for the right turn as described by the guide. However we bypassed the first set up that fitted that description, and went successfully with the next set instead. Thus one more stop off, for the non-religious types who nonetheless possess a great interest in looking at the insides of churches, and we were virtually back at our start point (with cars parked) of Shotley village hall.

Back at the basecamp we tucked into some Jamica Ginger or fruit cake + tea/coffee, before I had the downer of parting company with everyone, by virtue of being driven back to Manningtree station. To my immense delight (No:1) I ended up paying £20 from the machine for a single ticket back to London, when I then immediately discovered on the platform that my Saver Return was also valid for that day as well (this is what sleep deprivation will do for you). To my immense delight (No:2) I got to share the train with a load of (near London based ?) Ipswich and Wolves fans coming back from the football.

No comments:

Post a Comment