The Monthly Newsletter of Chelmsford YHA Local Group
The Sahara Trail
"All day I paced the barren wastes, without a taste of water…". OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it is ironic that the Saffron Trail ptV, cancelled in March due to snow, eventually took place on one of the hottest days of the year. As July had the golden promise of longer days, we had also lengthened the walk to 12 miles - taking us all the way from Littley Green to Great Easton. It was really, really hot and we were all feeling it. Our afternoon drink at The Flitch in Dunmow, saw us huddled in the pub garden struggling to be under the shade of the garden umberella. We were not alone, as soon as we got up newcomers were queuing for the only free shade!
This was mid-July and we’d not had a drop of rain for over a month. North Essex, usually a patchwork of tellytubbie green, was rolling hills of parched brown. As if to taunt us, for much of the walk we could hear the haunting strains of “Greensleeves” – icecreams always in our minds, but never in our reach. That is unless you count the dastardly few who snuck off into the post office at Felsted without telling the rest of us – a betrayal that will be remembered!
The heat made the walk more challenging than expected, but it was still a fantastic day. I’m looking forward to the next leg.
Streatley in the Sun
Another hot and sunny weekend found us at Streatley-on-Thames hostel for some more walking on the Thames Path. We took the train to Reading to pick up the path where we left off 15 months earlier, for a fine walk back to Streatley, finishing with afternoon tea in Goring (which was packed with fans of the late George Michael whose house was by the river there). On Sunday we continued upstream, via a pub at Wallingford (World Cup fever at its height) to finish at the Waterfront café in Benson. For the next leg – staying at Streatley again in June 2019 – we’ll go on through Oxford.
Darsham in the Rain
After weeks of searing temperatures and zero rainfall, apparently God heard that Jim was planning a barbecue and bike ride in Suffolk.
The Friday we travelled up saw record temperatures across East Anglia and after a slightly sticky drive it was a relief to get to the pub for a refreshing beer. You could feel the heat building, so it wasn’t that surprising that the weather broke on Saturday morning with a thunder clap and heavy shower. Thankfully the rain was short-lived, so we merely postponed our departure, however having a coffee while we waited was brutally taken off the menu by a powercut. It was a bit “Hammer House of Horror” as we sat in the old station house waiting out the storm as the lights flickered with the cracks of thunder.
It might have been an ominous start, but once the storm had passed the weather was actually very nice. Pleasantly warm rather than bakingly hot, and perfect for cycling. Our route was a relaxing 20ish miles with tea and cakes at Dunwich, lunch at Walberswick and then more tea and cakes at Southwold. I don’t think Team Sky need to worry about the competition just yet.
As the day wore on, the wind started to pick up. This made to return leg of the ride much harder work, plus there was a notable drop in temperature. On getting back to the old Station we found that the power was still off, but we managed to boil water for tea using the gas stove. Jim fired up the barbecue and we kept our fingers crossed that it would stay dry. Having packed in 35 degree heat, there may have been insufficient warm layers to cope with the cooler weather. Standing round the barbecue proved to be a popular activity even before the sausages went on!
As it turned out, God took pity on us for the barbecue and it stayed fine. The same could not be said for the following day. With high winds and rainfall of biblical proportions, cycling proved to be an unpopular choice. After brooding over coffee and cake at Orford for a while, many cut their losses and headed home. Dave and I took in the delights of Orford castle – including a very rare medieval urinal – followed by a trip to the WWII radar station at Bawdsey, which allowed Dave to explore his inner geek.
Although the weather didn’t entirely cooperate, we still had a great time. Thank you to Jim for the organising of it and for the top quality sausages on the BBQ.
Essex in a Nutshell
The weather had once again turned dry for our evening walk around Broads Green. Cynthia brought her sister and nephew along to enjoy the delights of the English countryside, and for once it obliged by being delightful! We had a gorgeous route taking us through wood bordered fields out through the Walthams and back again. There was even a moment of high drama when our path was blocked by a combine harvester, harvesting. As he disappeared off in a cloud of golden dust to the other end of the field, we crossed the stubble he’d just created.
All was rounded off with a refreshing drink at the charming Walnut Tree pub by the village green.
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