Starting from The Royal Oak, Laxfield, a bit later than planned due to a road closure which affected several participants, 11 Windmillers set off already fortified by a shot of caffeine kindly laid on by the pub. Maurice led the way through the Suffolk lanes towards the coast followed dutifully by Andrew, Keith, Roger, Lawrence, Deborah, Graham, Geoff, Charles, Howard and Martin. This is where we went, all except Martin who had to peel off in Walberswick and return earlier:
The lanes were fairly quiet even though this was peak holiday season, thanks perhaps to satnavs rarely choosing anything other than motorways, A or B roads. Apologising for the lack of hills at one point, Maurice navigated us swiftly towards the A12 with the help of a strong tail wind. Crossing the very busy A12 took a while, some achieving a gap in the traffic whilst others headed down a cycle path before waiting patiently for another gap to appear. It was at this point that Deborah was seen to hurtle pass those waiting to cross whilst she continued southwards on the cycle path towards Ipswich. Shouting above the noise of the traffic had no effect and so Graham gallantly took on the role of retriever Dawg and sped off in hot pursuit to apprehend Deborah and bring her to heel. Meanwhile the first group had set off at a pace towards Westleton and Dunwich, perhaps wanting to be the first to see the sea, but eventually we all regrouped and entered Dunwich together.
As time was a bit pressing and there was a lot more of the coast to come, it was decided not to cycle another 100 yards and see the sea. The next stop was Walberswick, the crabbing capital of the world according to most children, but the route was via John Bagrie’s sandy track through the woods which all agreed to tackle. And great fun it was too with all emerging safely onto the tarmac again on a back lane leading into Walberswick.
It was at this point that Martin had to return to Laxfield along much the same route as the others were to follow later, clocking up 34 miles in total, but missing out on the fun and games to follow. It turns out that after sampling the Adnams in The Lord Nelson in Southwold, the Windmillers split up into two groups but reached the bridge over the River Blyth leading to Walberswick at the same time (the bridge being used originally for a narrow gauge railway line). The story from Andrew then goes like this. Firstly a flamboyant lady in a flowing dress riding a bicycle at speed with a large wicker basket on the front gave one of the Windmiller groups a telling off for riding on a footpath. She then dismounted and pushed her bicycle over the bridge, followed gingerly by the Windmillers, until mounting again on the other side and shooting off at high speed only to be shouted at fiercely by a Walberswick lady walking her two dogs saying she was riding too fast and furthermore tried to pull her from her bike by grabbing the flowing dress, without success luckily. Andrew said it was like something out of a classic British comedy movie. The moral of this story is Beware Walberswick Women!
Martin’s route took him via the pretty village of Bramfield which had the distinction of having both a thatched church, St. Andrew’s no less, with a separate tower, fine wall paintings and also another example of a crinkle crankle wall:
The strong tail breeze on the way to the coast was on the nose for most of the way back which, coupled with some real hills, made the going somewhat slower but the magnificent scenery particularly around Walpole more than made up for the extra effort needed.
A late lunch was had by the main party of Windmillers who also celebrated Deborah’s birthday in fine style. Happy birthday, Deborah, and thanks for buying the drinks! Meanwhile, Martin was en route to a hot and sweaty shed also known as Luton Airport.
Thanks to Maurice for planning and leading the way and to Saint Andrew for his organisation and stories.