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Colchester Weekend - August 2019

Our August Bank Holiday break this year was spent at the University of Essex campus just outside Colchester, in temperatures approaching 30°C. Proving to be a very popular location, 28 ‘residents’ were joined by a total of 7 day-trippers at various stages over the weekend.

On Friday afternoon, our organiser Chris R led a small group on a short walk along the River Colne to Wivenhoe. Then after dinner Chris B initiated another caption competition, with a selection of 8 amusing photos from previous events. We had until Sunday to get some inspiration!

On Saturday, both parties drove to Manningtree Station. The ‘A’ party, led by William set off on the St Edmund Way for Flatford Mill (the setting of Constable's "Haywain" picture), where some of the party had an ice cream. Shortly afterwards we visited East Bergholt church and then headed west to Stratford St. Mary where we had welcome pre-lunch drinks at The Anchor. We ate our lunch on the bank of the Stour (watching the canoes go by). After lunch we walked further west along the Stour valley before returning east, joining the Essex Way to Dedham (where we admired the magnificent church). Soon afterwards we had an excellent tea at the Munnings Museum tea shop before returning to Manningtree, a total distance of 14 miles.

The ‘B’ party, led by Hilary, completed an 8½ mile circular walk in the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, including a drink stop in Dedham and an afternoon tea stop at Flatford Mill.

In the evening we had something very different: European folk dancing under the instruction of Claire S. This was very popular, and I for one was surprised that so many men were willing participants!

On Sunday, the ‘A’ party drove to Chappel and Wakes Colne Station, which was very crowded due to it being a Thomas the Tank Engine Steam day! Led by Steve P, we walked under the spectacular viaduct and across water meadows before turning back east away from the River Colne, up above the valley across field paths and lanes, before following another section of the river. At the hamlet of Ford Street we stopped for our sandwiches, before going into the garden centre cafe. We then continued to follow the river along the Essex Way to West Bergholt church, before turning back west to Fordham, where we had a welcome pub stop at The Three Horseshoes. We finally made our way back along field paths / tracks to the station; another 14-mile walk.

The ‘B’ party drove to Coggeshall for an 8½ mile circular walk including the historic town and surrounding field ways. 2 members left the group before the walk even started, but fortunately did reappear at the end. Led by Lesley, the walk included tea stops at Marks Hall and Paycocke’s. The Master of the Secateurs award went to Ian who got very carried away clearing the brambles etc.

After dinner, we returned to the caption competition, with many witty and outrageous offerings being made. Among the photos causing particular amusement were me stuck in a peat bog, and Dave S being chased by a goose. We then had a tricky current affairs quiz organised by Nick D.

On Monday, about half the group set off home while the remainder walked together from the campus, led by Ian. We walked along the river and through a nature reserve to Wivenhoe, stopping for a cold drink at a waterfront pub, before continuing along a lovely route down the estuary and through lots of wooded areas (where we had our lunch), before arriving back at Wivenhoe for further refreshment. Some of us visited a charming Syrian restaurant. Apparently the owner was a refugee who had now built a successful business. After the 9 miles, most of us went on our way home, with 4 members staying over for an additional night.

Many thanks to Chris R for organising another very successful August Bank Holiday break, to Chris again, William, Hilary, Steve P, Lesley and Ian for leading the walks, and to Chris B, Claire S and Nick D for the evening entertainment.



Maps of the walks

Flatford, Dedham Circular from Manningtree

Wakes Colne Circular

University to Wivenhoe & Return