Norfolk Broads Holiday 2022 (Third time lucky)
After a wait of 2 years, I finally arrived at Acle station in Norfolk (and you thought TfL rail was bad!). Having walked to the village, Val phoned and offered me a lift with her and Marian. After a short drive, we arrived at the boat-yard, booked in, found and boarded our boat, Caribbean Light. Having unpacked, a member of staff showed us where everything was, how the boat worked, and we were ready to go – almost, we’d better wait for Eileen first.
Eileen arrived, ships provisions were bought, and we cast off on our adventure, the ladies volunteering me to do the tricky job of getting the boat out of the marina. Once on the main rivers, Eileen and Val both took a turn at the helm doing a good job piloting the boat, although Val did carry out a couple of close river-bank inspections, just to keep me alert. A couple of hours later we moored at Salhouse Broad for the night, with the pub about a mile away for our evening meal (but that’s another story!).
On Sunday, we cruised up river to Wroxham and moored up, before walking to the gardens and cafe at Hoveton Hall for tea and (very yummy) cake. Suitably refreshed, Marian wanted to visit the gardens. Despite my aversion to anything flowery, not helped at all, when the ticket lady mentioned one of the features was the “spider garden” the ladies press-ganged me into visiting them, and I was surprisingly impressed. We returned to the boat and cruised to Horning for the night.
Monday, we left the moorings early-ish and had a leisurely breakfast on Ranworth Broad. We then turned up the River Ant, a much smaller river, but probably my favourite, through the low and narrow Ludham Bridge (windscreen down for the bridge!) heading to Stalham. We stopped on-route at How Hill, to see the old Marshman’s Cottage and explore the Wildlife Trail walk and the “secret garden”, before continuing to Stalham to moor up overnight.
On Tuesday we had to return to our boatyard as Val, Eileen and Marian were leaving, and a new crew were joining me for the rest of the week. I say a new crew, it was actually just Lynne, as Fozi wasn’t feeling well. So it was going to be just two of us with a seriously large (42 foot long) boat, what could possibly go wrong!. “Crew” changed and boat re-provisioned, we headed out again for Adventure Part 2, and moored up at one of the last remaining berths at Ludham for the evening.
Wednesday, we headed back to Salhouse Broad, with Lynne doing most of the driving, and doing a fine job (no river-bank inspections!). We had lunch on the Broad, before walking through the bluebell wood and village to the old thatched church, where I spotted the Phantom Norfolk Church Arsonist at work. Correction, it was a bee-keeper and we got chatting with his friend who gave us some of the honey-comb fresh from the hives. We returned to the boat before heading to Horning for the night.
Thursday morning was exciting!. An elderly couple had moored near us, but had no idea what they were doing, and despite 3 of us helping, I thought he would ram us, but he eventually got out trailing his ropes in the water! We departed, cruising to Stalham, where we had a pleasant walk along the Weavers Way and local footpaths. In the evening, two ex-members who Lynne knew and live locally, Edwina and Kenth, invited us for dinner, which was very enjoyable (thanks folks!).
Friday we departed, stopping at How Hill for a 2nd visit, but there’s always something new to see, and I was lucky enough to see 2 eels (might have been the same one twice!) having never seen one in the wild before. After a few hours, we departed, hoping to moor up at Ranworth for the night and were in luck. We visited the church, known as the Cathedral of the Broads, and Lynne climbed to the top of the Tower, whilst I waited below to ensure we didn’t get locked in the church.
Saturday morning we departed Ranworth, for our boat-yard at Potter Heigham. Despite the light drizzle (the only rain we had whilst travelling) we arrived back at the boatyard safely and enjoyed a snack at the cafe before departing back to Essex.
All in all it had been a fabulous week. The girls all did superbly, in handling the boat, mooring up and casting off, with no accidents. We saw plenty of wildlife, several kingfishers (although don’t ask Eileen, she missed them all), some ostriches (they weren’t actually on the broads), the eels, and Val saw an otter. Thank you ladies for all your work in making everything go so successfully and safely, I couldn’t have done it without your help! There’s a Captain or two amongst you!
Trev Eley, 19th May 2022
A circular walk from Debden station to Theydon Bois and back.
On Saturday 7th May, 2022 six EFOG members met at Debden station, where some of us enjoyed a Fabios coffee and cake before we all left at 10.30am.
We walked along a footpath by the side of the railway line and headed towards Langston Road, walking past the Bank of England buildings and through Debden woods. Walking across the bridge over the M11, we headed towards Abridge and continued through the fields towards Theydon Garnon. At 11.30am we stopped on a hill for a drink and snack and enjoyed the view of the Essex countryside. Just before All Saints Church a huge tree had fallen along the path which we managed to clamber over.
As we arrived at Theydon Bois at 1pm, it poured with rain so we quickly headed to The Queen Victoria.
After an appetising lunch we headed through the village and picked up a footpath which cut through some fields where lambs and sheep were grazing. Apart from the short downpour it was a lovely relaxing and enjoyable sunny day, and we walked about 7 miles.
Jill V. 8th May 2022
Epping Forest Bike Ride
On a pleasant Saturday in late April seven of us collected at Chingford Golf Club café for Lynne’s bike ride in Epping Forest. Only two of us were wearing shorts and Brian’s pasty legs – first time out this year - were in contrast to Peter B’s tanned limbs.
We first did a loop through Bury Wood then set off north, passing Grimston’s Oak. There has been recent research on the name of this tree and current opinion is that it has always been called Grimston’s Oak and never was called Bedford’s Oak. It seems odd to me that one of the prime movers behind the 1878 Epping Forest Act does not have a tree named after him but the then president of the MCC cricketing body does.
Up through Fairmead to skirt Hill Wood and we arrived just north of the biker’s café. Lynne gave us the option of the flat Paul’s Nursery Road or the Up and Down Ride and I foolishly elected for the latter. Much gasping and heaving later, we were at High Beach for a tea and fruit cake.
North again on the General’s Ride past Wake Arms roundabout to arrive at the Theydon Loop. Down the hill and up past Theydon Bois golf course where a couple of golfers were approaching the green. We stopped to look with the result that the poor golfer horribly sliced his shot and was no nearer the hole. Breathing restored, we carried on, enjoying the solitude in this northern part of the Forest and the sunlight shining through the new green leaf on the trees. Back down the General’s ride to High Beach again, this time for a tea and pasty which was consumed looking out over the Pillow Mounds.
Down Paul’s Nursery Road, past the biker’s café and through Bury Wood we arrived back at the Chingford Golf club café. Nearly 15 miles had been covered in leisurely fashion and we all look forward to Lynne’s next bike ride.
Brian U. 30th April 2022
Photos by Brian and Val. Route map by Val.
Oxfordshire and The Ridgeway
On April Fool’s Day 2022 - a Friday - three of us (Brian, Dave and Lynne) set out to visit the White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire. It was nice enough but the best view seemed to be from the road. On to Wantage where Eileen, Marian and Val joined us to stay for the weekend at the Court Hill Centre.
The Centre was a lovely looking place and the host was welcoming. We had the place to ourselves after the tearoom closed, apart from some DOE’ers (Duke of Edinburgh Award entrants) who were camping (and freezing at night). The kitchen, showers and toilets were only for us and we ate in the tearoom. Strangely, we all stayed at one table and left the vast expanse of the tearoom untouched. Driving out to Wantage for an evening meal Brian managed to forget that Lynne was a passenger but Eileen rescued her. The 'House of Spice' was selected and immediately Val had an argument with the waiter. The rest of us carefully examined our meals after that.
On Saturday we set off on the Ridgeway Trail – see the photo of us at the start. It was warm and clothes were soon removed. The clothes were replaced when snow started to fall! The trail is on chalk which is very slippery when damp and also clings to your shoes. Passing several DOE’ers and cyclists we reached the White Horse (again, for three of us). This time we found better angles to see the horse but it was spoilt by a family whose four children were playing on the horse and throwing the chalk everywhere. A word from Marian soon stopped that. We had left Brian’s car at the National trust car park and climbed in for the journey back.
On Sunday we did a circular walk around Longcot and Uffington. We had an interesting stop at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Longcot which had only opened today after a £186,000 upgrade. The walk was across several open flat fields and underneath the busy Great Western Railway line. Lunch was at the Fox and Hounds in Uffington, near to a cottage with a blue plaque in memory of John Betjeman. The weather now became distinctly cold and the stiles became progressively tougher as we walked back across more open flat fields. There was no stile at the end, merely some fence rails which we clambered over with difficulty. This evening we ate in Wildwood’s in Wantage. It was virtually empty, which apparently is the norm for Sunday night in Wantage.
On Monday we toured Wantage, finding a delightful museum and the John Betjeman Millennium Park. After a pleasant couple of hours we left to go to Basildon Park, a National Trust property near Reading. Once again the café service was slow, which now seems to be the norm for NT cafes. It is the coffees that slow things down. The place itself was nice, although covid had restricted the amount we could see. The gardens were just coming out for Spring and will look lovely in a month.
Then it was off to the M4 and home.
Brian U. 6th April 2022
Greensted Church and Ongar
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