Suffolk Tour 2006
Summer Tour in Suffolk July 10th to 15th 2006
This year we were based once again at Blaxhall Youth Hostel in Suffolk. We had intended to go to Sheringham in North Norfolk, but the YHA are being difficult in only taking school parties in the summer months at that hostel, despite Adrian’s original booking being accepted by the hostel.
Never mind! Blaxhall is a very good hostel situated about half way between Wickham Market and Aldeburgh. Steve, the hostel manager, remembered us from our last visit in 2004. A keen cyclist himself, he was of great help to us during our stay. (He had just taken delivery of a new recumbent which we were able to inspect one evening).
We were pleased to welcome four new riders to our group of regulars: North Roaders Dave Sperrin, his daughter Gemma and Alizon Hargreaves plus ex North Roader Geoff Ericsson, who was to join us Wednesday, July 12. Geoff will be remembered by some of our older members. Regulars: Adrian Kennett, Eddie Graves, Graham Thompson, Ken Lovett, Eric Jewell, Dave Capon, Glyn Halliday, Tony Giles and Peter Egan. The group was thus potentially 13.
Everyone said they had a great time, the weather was fine but not as hot as late.
We visited Lowestoft in the North, Felixstowe in the South, Framlingham in the West, Southwold/Aldeburgh in the East and various places in-between, covering about 250 miles for the week.
DAY ONE – MONDAY AFTERNOON, JULY 10
We had arranged to meet at the hostel from 11 am onwards. Most came by shared cars whereas Peter Egan and Ken Lovett let the train take the strain. We were able to leave our bags in the hostel in advance of the official opening time of 5 pm. We knew Ken was arriving later in the day and that Graham was on his way so, leaving a note for Graham we set off for our shortest run of
1.8 miles to Snape Maltings for lunch – a lovely setting by the river. Graham soon joined us although he hadn’t seen the note – he’d guessed where we would be. (The photo [number 7, page 11] shows us at lunch).
After at least an hour we thought we better get a few miles in, so we set off on a circuitous route to Aldeburgh via Thorpeness to avoid the main road. We paused by Aldeburgh lifeboat station to regroup. Some passers-by noticed our North Road tops, came over and said “do you know Ron Hayden?” Adrian did so they chatted for a while.
A pity Ken wasn’t with us as his name was also mentioned in the discussion. Small world. As we had now done about 11 miles, it was time for a tea stop! We found a café in the high street and our group nearly filled it up!
Retracing our route back to Snape we decided to continue to Iken church, which some in our group had not seen. The group photograph shows us at the church [number 4, page 10] which is remotely situated very near to the Alde estuary. Observant readers of the Gazette will recognise the view from our 2003 Tour.
The weather was looking a bit threatening so we set off back to the hostel where we met Ken Lovett, who had cycled from Ipswich station. Approximately 30 miles this afternoon.
DAY TWO – TUESDAY, JULY 11
Blaxhall Youth Hostel sits south from Snape Maltings on the River Alde, which almost enters the North Sea at Aldeburgh, but has to travel another ten miles inland parallel to the beach. The river, now named the Ore from Orford eventually reaches the sea at Hollesley Bay. The North Road party led by Adrian and Eddie and numbering 12 ride along quiet roads through the forests and farms backed up by an ancient of those 12: at the back for much of the day as he has been reduced to riding slowly and only for short distances. He is quite happy to ride thus in the knowledge that he has a 1965 Barts map of Suffolk in his back pocket and in the comforting thought that somebody in the party will keep an eye out for him when he gets out of sight. He also knows the destination to the ferry at the River Deben near Felixtowe which the hostel warden assures Eddie is still running and there is a café on the other side!
After a slow start tinkering with bikes and gathering riders into a group – there is some expensive and modern machinery on display, which seems to require endless tuning and some tired and old legs, which have to be persuaded into movement – the group gets on the road through parched fields into the lanes. Tunstall, Butley, Capel St. Andrew, Hollesley. Alderton and Bawdsey pass quickly by and a former garage by the name of H & H Crane demands a halt to admire the old motors and motor-cycles, especially two BMWs, one from 1935 and another from 1940. The ferry is reached [number 5, page 11] and two journeys are needed to cross to the café which provides a welcome halt,
especially as the weather is hot and sunny with little breeze. We continue across the golf course, where a ball is found on the road and is restored to its owner near the first tee.
The A45 runs from Felixstowe to Birmingham through Trimley St. Mary and Trimley St. Martin according to my Barts map. Planners have tinkered with road numbers and much of it is now the A14. These two villages are now bypassed with the result that the ancient rider is confused by the villages of almost the same name and is for a short time separated from his companions, and is then exhorted to get on the right route to Kirkton and Waldringfield. A cul-de-sac leads to this village on the River Debden: all is very peaceful and quiet with no sign of any pubs for lunch. Suddenly the place is heaving with people at a very popular pub with the attraction of boating and river trips. The pub is geared up for serving thirsty and hungry trippers and cyclists, who are mistaken by some of the trippers for foreigners due to the continental jerseys being sported by the majority of North Roaders. A welcome pint of Adnams beer and good food quickly brought to the tables in the open, soon revive any one who may be flagging.
The afternoon session of cycling is to Woodbridge with tea at Wickham Market, but on climbing out of Waldringfield, Ken and Graham decided that discretion is the better part of valour and decide to return more directly to Blaxhall. Getting in the miles is not a necessity these days and being comfortable is a much better option. Woodbridge is uncomfortably busy with traffic and after a wait at a level crossing a quieter route is taken to Eyke, Tunstall and Blaxhall. The village store at Eyke has a tea and coffee machine and some large oranges on offer, so our two riders rest in the shade outside the store. Blaxhall is reached via some small lanes, just calling a halt to an excellent day of cycling before the main party reaches the hostel.
DAY THREE – WEDNESDAY, JULY 12
Happy Birthday Captain! Not quite the big one, that’s next year. We’d all signed a card, rude of course. More on the birthday later.
Another fine day greeted us. Our first stop was to be Peasenhall where there is a very attractive café we have visited before. Dave Capon was helping with the map reading today. The route out, roughly North, is, once the A12 crossed, delightful and quiet being in part a waymarked cycle route. We went via Swefling and Bruisyard to Peasenhall.
Upon arrival at the café we were greeted with a sign saying “Closed on Wednesdays”! Oh dear – management miscalculation! We continued in a North Westerley direction hoping to find a pub that did coffee.
The route followed the line of an old Roman road through Heveningham, Cratfield (pub closed) and on to Fressingfield where at last we found a promising looking pub. It was nearly noon by now. The publican, a Londoner, welcomed us. After enquiring about coffee, we found that the cook was just about to arrive and we could order food in about 15 minutes. We unanimously decided on an early lunch. It was one of those memorable occasions – a two hour lunch al fresco,
coffee afterwards, newspapers to read. It was difficult to get going again!
We retraced via Peasenhall and Bruisyard to Framlingham for tea. Graham had decided to return to the hostel directly from Bruisyard which was OK as he had his trusty 1965 Barts map. We temporarily lost Peter Egan who for some reason decided to chase after a lorry full of manure, but met again at Framlingham. After enquiry we found a tea shop. What a difference from lunchtime. We had found the original “grumpy old women” running the tea shop.
Leaving Framlingham by turning at the old station building, we stopped to admire an old pre-war Morris which was for sale. Continuing via Easton we resisted stopping again in Wickham Market and took the direct B road through Campsea Ashe past the station and into the lanes for the final two miles to the hostel. 53 miles today.
At the birthday dinner that evening the wine flowed. Doreen Kennett had baked Adrian a cake with “old git” candles on it – priceless. Adrian, generous as ever, had bought all the gents “old git” keyrings and the girls ones more suitable. Ken Lovett gave a talk about Adrian as a boy cyclist when he joined the club 42 years ago. In all a memorable day.
DAY FOUR – THURSDAY, JULY 13
Today was to be our longest ride to Carlton Colville on the outskirts of Lowestoft.
The Transport Museum, which some of us had visited in 2004, had changed its opening day to a Thursday, so we had decided to go today as some people may wish to visit the museum.
Graham, Ken and Peter had decided to do a shorter route so we had ten for our ride.
The weather was still fine so we made a slightly earlier getaway, about 9ish and made good time via Middleton, Westleton and Wenhaston to Blyford for a coffee stop at a local pub we’d visited before. Our route had to meander a bit to avoid the busier roads, but it is delightfully quiet in this part of Suffolk. As you are only a few miles from the sea, some of the lanes have sand building up at the edges of the road. As this was the third time we’d taken this route in the last few years I can remember most of it now. Just the odd slip up when I took the wrong turn and ended up in a farmyard!
Upon arrival at Blyford the pub’s door was open, even though it was only 10.30 or so. The Egyptian (yes Egyptian) publican remembered us. Out came the coffee and cakes which Adrian treated us to. The publican then told us in some detail about the problems of running a country pub as well as what was wrong with the government, the world, etc. It was actually quite entertaining, but after a while we were ready for the open road again!
Onwards via Stoven, Sotterly and Muford to Carlton Colville where we arrived just after midday.
There is a decent restaurant next to the museum, although the service was slow. They even had an OAP menu which some people took advantage of (no names).
Nobody was fussed about the museum so after struggling for a while with Eric’s cycle combination lock which would not open we eventually hit the road again.
On the return journey we diverted through Dunwich Forest to Dunwich for tea. There is a National Trust nature reserve nearby at Dunwich Heath.
Rejoining our outward route at Westleton we made our way back to the hostel,
Another successful day. Sixty six miles.
DAY FIVE – FRIDAY, JULY 14
Another lovely day, 22ºC with a fresh northerly wind and the prospect of an adventure as today’s destination unknown! Our first stop was the teashop at Peasenhall which we had been unable to visit earlier in the week as it had been closed. It was worth the wait however as the cakes and toasted teacakes did not disappoint although by now I was beginning to start calculating how many miles I would need to cycle to burn off all those extra calories!
There was then some deliberation as to our destination, but Gemma and I had already made a unilateral decision to visit Southwold, as Gemma was determined to dip a toe in the notoriously freezing east coast sea; rather her than me, but then she’s young and very brave! The gentlemen decided this was too good an opportunity to miss and one by one made the wise decision to accompany us. Geoff, a former North Road club member took over the unenviable position of chief route finder, quite a hard act to follow, after the excellent routes we had enjoyed with Eddie Graves at the helm. We set off at a brisk pace and enjoyed a fantastic route on mainly “B roads” via Wangford to arrive in Southwold at 3 pm.
Half the group enjoyed a snack on the sea front, whilst the others followed Dave Capon to a fish and chip shop he had spied on the way in. The fish and chips lived up to their seaside reputation, and I have to admit I haven’t enjoyed fish and chips of such quality since Harry Ramsden’s in 1999!
We rendezvoused at 2 pm and enjoyed a little rough stuff across the gravel, ok well some of the slick tyres seem to shriek in discomfort, but they all got there in the end. The group then had a glorious ride, via the garden centre tea shop at Dunwich to arrive back at the Blaxhall YHA at 5.45 pm. Oh, ok well a few of us had to stop at the local hostelry at Snape, but just think of the rush there would be for the showers if we all arrived back at once guys!
An excellent day and a fantastic holiday. Thanks to Adrian for organising it, to Eddie for finding the routes and to everyone else for their company.
DAY SIX – SATURDAY, JULY 15
Our last morning. Some of us had decided to leave for home after breakfast. Dave and Gemma were off to Southampton to buy Dave a new bike. Adrian and a few others had an enjoyable potter around Saxmundam.
It just remains for me to thank Adrian for organising the trip and everyone for their company and the naughty presents. As another old git (sorry gent) often says, “see you up the road”.