The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
July has seen us finally buck the trend for torrential rain on our cycle rides to north Essex. Our Castle Hedingham trip was hot and dry in the extreme, perfect for cycling – see Sue’s article below. We also spent an extremely pleasant Saturday evening lounging around the hostel grounds keeping some beers and a sizzling barbecue company. Nigel did us proud with a vast selection of burgers and sausages, with plenty left over for interesting breakfast and lunch options.
Luckily the sun stayed out for our Saturday walk at Orfordness. Our splendid day out, detailed below, would have been very different had the heavens opened!
Sun and Shingle
Our Saturday trip to Orfordness in Suffolk was marked by baking hot weather. Perhaps not the best of conditions to travel to a peninsular with no facilities – not even an icecream van, let alone a pub. Still, having got our tickets and practically chartered the boat taking us over, we were committed to a day taking in the sights and sounds of this unique shingle spit.
Apart from a landscape, much of which is made up of ridges of shingle sculpted by the sea, Orfordness also has an extensive military history. This remote Suffolk spit has seen missile tests, bombing runs and the birth of radar. The remnants of the old MOD buildings are still there for you to explore, although sadly the famous “pagoda” buildings were out of bounds.
Having been devoid of human habitation for decades, it’s hardly surprising that it’s a great place for wildlife. The star turn for us was the arrival of a harbour porpoise, dipping through the waves whilst we tucked into our sandwiches.
Late News from Yorkshire
Thanks to Cressida for organising a great August Bank Holiday weekend in the Yorkshire Dales, giving us the chance to walk from hostel to hostel, and to enjoy the achievement of arriving at the hostel on foot! (full report next month)
Jim’s Birthday Meat-Fest
Our thanks to Jim for organising a splendid barbecue, giving us the opportunity to share in his birthday celebrations with an artery-clogging pile of juicy burgers and sausages, and some very yummy salads. The Sunday was a little showery, but with a cunning arrangement of tarpaulins, disaster was averted. We also want to thank Paula, a new member, who with great foresight came bearing big cakes.
-----Another one bites the dust-----
With the hostel at Castle Hedingham on the YHA ‘hit list’ the cycling weekend provided a good opportunity for making use of one of the last of the dwindling number of Essex hostels before it too finally closes its doors. The gently rolling countryside in this part of the county makes it perfect for cycling, and whilst traffic congestion and busy roads seem to be an inherent feature of Essex life, there are still plenty of quiet lanes to be enjoyed. With the hostel so close to home, Sarah and I could not resist the temptation of cycling to the hostel from Colchester. Several bike maintenance (and pub) stops later and we were ‘bagging our beds’, and heading for the Bell to join others for an evening meal.
On Saturday Jim’s chosen cycle route took us through the pretty village of Clare, where we paused for tea (yes! really! tea not beer! It was, after all, a very warm day.) With Hedingham teetering on the Essex-Suffolk border, we had move quickly into the ‘foreign’ pastures of Suffolk. The lengthy antique-shop laden High Street of the appropriately named Long Melford arrived just in time for lunch. Melford’s large green sports a few trees, enough to offer welcome shade from the, by now, very hot sunshine. A marked contrast to the Thaxted ride earlier in the year, when we had crowded under a tree to keep our sarnies dry. The fine conditions continued, ensuring that Saturday evening’s barbecue was a success.
Sunday’s ride was once again in beautiful sunny conditions, and through equally attractive countryside. With most of the ride once more on quiet lanes we braved the A120 crossing for a cuppa (tea again, this is getting to be a habit!) in Coggeshall. Here we also braved the wrath of an irate publican, who did not feel we had parked our bikes prettily enough! Tea may indeed remain the beverage of choice, at least in Coggeshall! At Chapel, in sight of the ‘Lovejoy Line’s’ beautiful viaduct, we stopped at the Swan for more refreshments. With Cressida and Sarah feeling slightly ‘under par’ the rest of us waved them goodbye, promising to return with cars to pick them up. Still with several miles to go the depleted group pressed on, stopping briefly to admire the ‘Round Church’ at Maplestead. One of only four of its type in the country, the church was built for the ‘Knights Templar’.
With people still waiting patiently at the Swan, goodbyes to Hedingham were necessarily short. But there was a moment for reflection. With its baskets of flowers the hostel looked welcoming in the late afternoon sunshine. For many years it has been a familiar feature here. Sad to think that it will soon be lost to the village of Castle Hedingham, and lost to the hostellers who would have enjoyed staying in this attractive village.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer