Friday, 14 February 2020

Fornham St Martin Snowdrop Walk

This was the invite from Joyce...

"This Friday February 14th I'm offering a walk from The Folk Cafe (Fornham Business Court, The Drift, Fornham St Martin, Bury Saint Edmunds IP31 1SL). Plenty of parking here. Please meet at 10am for coffee and we will start walking about 10.45am. It will be a lovely 8 mile circular route to Fornham, Hengrave, Culford and Timworth to see plenty of snowdrops. Finish back at The Cafe approx 2.15pm."

This was our route.

I arrived early at the Folk Cafe and had a No-carb breakfast, scrambled egg, bacon and avocado, to go with my coffee while I waited for the others. Hmm. Well avocado is 8.5% carbohydrate, so "no" is maybe a bit of a misnomer, but it tasted nice. Joyce was next to arrive, followed by Carolyn, who just came to join us for a coffee, and then the others. There were 8 of us in all on the walk, including a new member of the group, Sally. Welcome Sally!

Here are just a few of my photos of our walk.

The Folk Cafe was very busy,


And off we went.

Jane pointed this out. What could this be a fire assembly point for? There were no buildings for several hundred metres. How odd! I wondered if had been left behind when the road was built.

We passed Fornham St. Martin church, but didn't visit.

Nearby, there was a lovely bunch of narcissi underneath the road sign as we turned left.

We came to the small dog hotel....

...and a cute pony.

Our first decent spread of snowdrops...

..was just before we crossed the golf course as All Saints Hotel.

We walked alongside the River Lark for a bit....

...with a view of  the ruined Fornham St. Genevieve Church. To quote the linked site... "The ruined church of St Genevieve is marooned in the park of Fornham Hall to the north of Bury. The tower, which is all that survives, stands on private land, a good half a mile from the nearest road. Although the church is only a mile or so north of Bury St Edmunds, it stands on wild heathland, and is not reachable from the village of Fornham St Genevieve itself. Instead, you have to approach it from the north, along a track which begins on a back road near Culford. In the old days, this would have meant risking the wrath of the owners of Fornham Hall, but today the Hall stands empty, and is being converted into apartments. The church was destroyed by fire in 1782, and was derelicted in 1813".

As we approached Culford, we came to a great swathe of snowdrops. Are they not as good as last year? See here to compare.

The Culford village sign.

Crossing some fields to Ingham, we passed the Brewshed brewery without sampling the beers.

We found a muddy bit, but it didn't amount to much beyond this.

A view of Ingham church just before we got to Ampton racecourse.

From here we headed on to Timworth Church.

The snowdrops here were definitely less profuse than last year.

And here we are back where we started saying our goodbyes.

Thanks Joyce for the lovely walk, and to everyone else too for the company.
You can see more details of our walk here on MapMyWalk and more of my photos here on Flickr.

QC Blogging Day

Times Quick Cryptic No 1549 by Pedro

A nice quick crossword to end the week from Pedro. One or two tricky bits of wordplay, I think, but I readily got several answers from the definitions first and then worked out the wordplay. All done and dusted for me in under 5 minutes. We've got a few examples of the need to "lift and separate" today (23A, 7D and 14D), where you need to avoid the misdirection to find the definition by splitting a combination of words. As someone said in a comment on one of the 15x15 blogs earlier in the week where they were bamboozled by the setter like this, "Redoubling my resolve to read each clue as a succession of single words as a result." My LOI was 14D, which was one of them. The clues I liked most were 23A  and 4D. Lovely-jubbly stuff. Thanks Pedro. How did everyone else like it? 

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Coming soon...

Click here to go to the site and read about the walks. Tickets go on sale on 1st March.

I'll be leading 3 of the walks - on the 12th, 22nd and 29th May.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Ramblers Great Finborough Walk

After the storms on Sunday, this week's Tuesday walk had a lovely sunny morning, but still strong winds. It was my turn to lead and with the amount of rain we had had,  I adjusted the route to avoid crossing a couple of fields, so the walk was a little shorter than advertised. This was the listing.

It was a cold wind so we didn't stand around in the car park for too long and got walking right on 10am. In all there were 41 of us, which was a good turnout for a cold winter's day.

This was our route (apart from the last 100m)... I'm sure you can work out the rest of it.

It was a figure of 8 walk with a shortened first loop to avoid the muddy fields and a stop at OneHouse Church for our drinks break.

Here are a few of my photos.

Early on our walk we saw a cute donkey sheltering from the cold wind.

My planned route would have taken us along this path.

After trying it on my recce 10 days ago I decided I needed a plan B. So we went this way instead.

We crossed the Rattlesden River (aka the River Rat) and walked along the bottom of Purple Hill. The ditch here was full of fast flowing water but the path was very pleasant.

We climbed the hill to Fenn Hall and had a lovely view back to Great Finborough as we stopped to regroup.

We returned towards Purple Hill via Brooks Farm. Not open today, unfortunately, but here was the Granary Crafts tearoom and gift shop on a Caravan Club site and a "Bygones" museum. Outside and across the road there are some historical agricultural bits and pieces.

From here it was back down Purple Hill... the bridge over the River Rat again and then onto Stowmarket Golf Course. There weren't many golfers about today so we got across without any golf balls coming near.

As we re-crossed the River Rat, we were surprised to find a group of kayakers paddling about.

We passed through Finborough wood...

...crossed Lower Road and ascended again past OneHouse Hall, a Grade II listed building dating from the 16th Century but much modified. In the lakes in the grounds is a duck house.

No. It's not the one there was a scandal about an MP putting on expenses in 2010. That one is in Hampshire. (I checked - see here).

Soon we were at St. John the Baptist, Onehouse church. "I think that round tower means it is Saxon", said Ann. I think she's right. As described by Simon Knott in his Suffolk Churches write-up linked to above, "[The tower] used to be taller, but by the 1990s, it had become unsafe, and somewhat barbarically it was reduced by two thirds in height, and then partly built up again with modern battlements." And he confirms it is Saxon.

As we had our drinks stop we sheltered from the wind.

There were some broken tiles  on the ground loosened by the gales from the roof.

The church wasn't open, but the porch was. In there behind Dave were 9 other walkers keeping warm.

I liked the aconites in the churchyard..

Onward for a final 2 1/2 miles, past the mistletoe-laden trees...

..and back down to the river emerging by the Shepherd and Dog pub.

Tempting though it was to nip in for a swift half, I don't think serving 41 of us would have been very swift.

Crossing the river one final time, a pleasant path took us alongside it and past an equestrian centre. Lunchtime for this horse.

We re-entered the gold course and skirted our way round the outside, past Finborough School and St. Andrews Church, with its magnificent spire of nearly 300ft that we had seen for most of our walk.

Passing the metal dragon at Ironoak House

...our final joyful sight of the day, just before we reached the car park again, was these crocuses.

Well that turned out rather nice. The wind was cold and rather strong in places (bye-bye cobwebs), but the sunshine was warming. So thanks to all for coming, and thanks especially to Keith for back-marking.

You can see more details of our route here on MapMyWalk and more of my photos here on Flickr.

By the way. Some people have asked how they can reuse my walks. For instructions read my Reusing My Walks page. See you all again soon!