The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Snorkelling in Suffolk
By our Anglian Water correspondent
Having seen the weather forecast, it was with some trepidation that we loaded the bikes and headed for the Stour Valley bunkhouse for our July weekend. Our last visit in 2009 had been marked by a particularly wet barbecue and it was possible that history was going to repeat itself.
It was a bit grey when we woke up on Saturday, but looked OK for a cycle ride. As it turned out the initial cloudy skies lulled us into a false sense of security in regard to suncream. Whilst the rest of the country were watching the Olympic torch being washed across the country, we got sunburnt!
Having pedalled a healthy 36 miles taking in Harwich, Shotley and the all important tea room at Alton Water, we were ready for our burgers and sausages. A small bun crisis, but no rain, meant that we had a delightful evening sitting out on the patio doing justice to several bowls of salad and a generous portion of various dead animals. The perfect end to a perfect day.
Sunday was a little less perfect. The predicted rain finally caught up with us and the skies were stairrodding from about 4am. We woke up to twighlight dark clouds and pooling water in the farm yard. Even loading the bikes on the cars required some steely determination. Most people decided that discretion was the better part of valour and beat a hasty retreat home. Jim, Dave and I were made of sterner stuff and decided to carry on regardless. Doug would have joined us but for an unfortunate puncture.
We de-camped to Dedham, unloaded the bikes and immediately donned the waterproofs. The rain had eased a little, but it was still coming down at a fair rate. We started pedalling, but the wet and steamy weather rapidly made my glasses a little pointless. It was a fun ride. The scenery was still gorgeous, but some of the roads were flooded and it was difficult to gauge the depth of the water without sending a sacrificial cyclist through to check.
We each took it in turn to be dipstick.
Our first stop was for soup and cake courtesy of the National Trust in Flatford. This route was a tad hillier than yesterday, so refuelling was a must. A little further on we took advantage of a pause in the rain to get our sandwiches out. By this time we were pretty soggy. Even in our waterproofs, cycling through floodwater was sending jets of gravely water shooting up our backs (and down our necks) and into our shoes, so we were in a slightly sorry state.
Having clocked up about 27 miles, we made it back to Dedham in time for tea. After all, why put ourselves through all this if not for the excuse of a cream tea in the Essex Rose tearoom. We also used their loo for a quick clean up a change of clothing, but I was a little embarrassed to note that I left a damp patch on the cushion on my seat (and, no, it wasn't the excitement of an individual portion of clotted cream).
A very splendid weekend made all the more exciting for the extremes in weather.
By our Sunshine Scribbler
Ten hardy souls and twenty hardy soles braved incessant sunshine, mild breezes and beautiful clear blue skies in and around Gosfield on Sunday 22nd August. Participants enjoyed a 9.5 mile walk including a visit to Gosfield Lake for an ice cream and a cup of tea and a ringside seat to watch the waterskiers there. We even got our £1 entrance fees back for staying less than hour which were a short while later reinvested in beers and coffees at The Green Man pub. Many thanks to Jim for organising the walk - we’ll even forgive you that the pub promised half way around had been converted into a private house.
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