The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
Sunday 16th August we woke up to torrential rain and we thought that the curse of the north Essex walk was about to strike again. Still as walk leader I had to bite the bullet, so we kitted up and made our way to the railway station.
The grand plan was to catch the train from Newport to Great Chesterford and walk back. By the time we’d met up with everyone and journeyed to Great Chesterford the rain had disappeared to be replaced by blazing sunshine. We’d all packed waterproofs, but not everyone had thought to bring a sunhat!
The walk passed from Gt Chesterford to Lt Chesterford, partly following the river Cam, before climbing up onto a chalk escarpment overlooking the valley (and Tom’s work place). From here it was a ridge walk (well, as ridgey as Essex gets) down into Saffron Walden for a spot of lunch at the pub. Thus fortified, we continued following the dry river beds of the Slade and Debden Water, getting back to the station shortly after four with blazing sunshine all day. Who’d have thought it was possible?
Don’t use the L word
Thanks go out to Dave J for rushing back from work to take us on a walk around Danbury and Little Baddow. For once we had a beautiful (if a little humid) evening, so we set off at a cracking pace to make up for an unavoidably late start.
Little Baddow is surrounded by small woods made up of local nature reserves and wildlife trust sites – all of which contain a bewildering network of permissive paths that don’t appear on any OS map. Whilst we always knew roughly where we were and what direction we were travelling in, the paths never seemed to go where we thought they should. The result was that we wandered around in the woods for about the right time & distance, but any similarity to the planned walk was largely coincidental.
Due to our late start, it was getting a bit dark by the time we got back to the pub and we suffered the ultimate indignity of having George ring up and ask us where we were.
Our guided walk of Hylands Park, delayed from July because of bad weather, suffered some disruption again in August because preparations for the V Festival had started earlier than we expected, preventing access to our usual car park, and providing an obstacle course of temporary fencing. So the slight delay in meeting up, and the earlier sunset time, meant the walk was rather shorter than originally planned. However, Tony from the museum was able to give us an interesting description of the history of the ancient parkland and the dilemmas in maintaining it. We also learned about the very rare golden hoverfly, and the importance of wet tree holes for such insects. So next time you see an apparently dead tree or fallen branch, don’t blame the council for not tidying up, it’s a valuable wildlife habitat!
Our dusk walk from the Viper pub at Mill Green in search of bats, took us quickly into the gloomy forest. We spotted a herd of deer, and soon afterwards encountered a pair of bats, circling low above our heads. Using the bat detector, we were able to listen to their ultrasonic calls as they hunted for insects in a clearing.
Walking on into the woods accompanied by the hoots of invisible owls, it was rapidly getting very dark. The detector picked up a couple more hints of bats in the area, but as it was starting to drizzle, they obviously had more sense than us, and kept out of the rain. Reminiscing about the Rodings Rally, we found our way back to the pub to dry out.
This year, the destination for our regular early August cycling weekend was Hunstanton on the Norfolk coast. The group hadn’t visited Hunstanton since 1973, so it was high time for a return trip! The hostel is a pair of Victorian townhouses built of warm red Norfolk carrstone, just a short stroll from the seafront. Arriving on Friday evening we were treated to a stunning sunset over the sea. Hunstanton is unique as the only town on the east coast where you can see the sun setting over the sea – it actually faces west across the Wash.
On Saturday, Alison led a small group of non-cyclists on a walk along the coast from the bird reserve at Titchwell, back via the unusual red and white-striped cliffs at Hunstanton.
Meanwhile, Jim led an enjoyable cycle ride along lanes and tracks to Sandringham. After a heavy downpour in the morning had drenched us all, we were glad of the chance to dry out in the tea shop at Bircham Windmill, before riding on to the Sandringham Estate for more tea and cakes. Warm sunshine in the afternoon rewarded our perseverance as we pedalled back to Hunstanton. Some of the group stopped at Norfolk Lavender (third teashop opportunity of the day), and the rest of us went down to the seafront (more tea, ice creams, etc.).
John and Judi cooked us a very tasty bolognaise, and we all rushed out to watch another sunset on the way to the pub.
On Sunday we all headed for Holkham, and then split into walking and cycling groups again. This time there were rather more walkers (some still sore from Saturday’s cycling). We walked along the vast beach and sand dunes, and then inland to Burnham Thorpe. Here we visited the church where Lord Nelson’s father had been vicar, and where there’s now a small display about Nelson’s life.
The cyclists rode to Walsingham, jostling for space with pilgrims at the shrine.
By extraordinary coincidence we all managed to meet up at Holkham Hall to get in the tea shop just before the rain started.
Thanks to Jim for organising another successful weekend.
Two get wet in Dorset
Earlier in July, Dave & Helen spent a week enjoying the summer weather at a campsite in Dorset…
We arrived in Langton Matravers near Swanage on Sunday afternoon. The weather was lovely but as we had heard that July would soon be metamorphosing into February, booked the ‘Stone Room’ instead of pitching our tent. The room, a converted pigsty, was lovely and comfortable with a small terrace equipped with patio table and chairs for enjoying those long summer evenings. Not that we did of course………
Monday – Lovely morning, bus to Corfe, lie in sunny meadow, contemplate darkening skies, decide to press on back to Langton, negotiate BIG cows, icy down pour, leaky boots, drenched, rain stopped play.
Tuesday – Chain ferry to Poole, new boots, visit Studland, walk to Ballard Down, steep sides, lovely views, not much rain.
Wednesday – Rain, ferry to Brownsea Island, rain, red squirrel, rain, wildlife walk, rain, saw trees, rain, pub, rain stopped.
Thursday – Dry, walk to Swanage and beyond, looked at beach, pulled on winter jerseys, ate fish and chips.
Friday – Dry start, drove to Powerstock, saw ancient hill fort and big cows, lovely walk, rain, wonderful mediaeval woodland, family of wild boars, deer, got lost, ate Ambrosia rice pudding, rain stopped, got second wind, found car, pub.
Saturday – Dry, visit Tynham, walk Tynham ranges to Kimmeridge and back, amazing views, took off winter jerseys, visit Wareham, good pub grub, real ales, book into luxury B&B.
Sunday – Bere Regis, good walk, church, history and tombs of Tubervilles (Hardy’s D’Urbervilles), pub, home…sun came out.
Overall, a lovely week was had despite the rain. We managed a good walk on all but the wettest day and I was glad to see that the ‘traditional’ campsite at which I spent so many family holidays as a child (it always rained then too) hadn’t changed a bit.
Please send any comments on these pages to Dave Plummer