1 January - New year day walk
We enjoyed our traditional new year walk in the Chiltern hills, starting and finishing at Berkhamstead. Leaving Berkhamstead we passed through a tunnel under the town's bypass then followed footpaths south to Bovingdon. We skirted Bovingdon airfield, a sizeable WWII airfield first used by the RAF then handed over to the US Army Air force - General Eisenhower's personal aircraft operated from here. We noted that to a casual observer the concrete runways still looked in reasonable condition and it seems that the site is now being promoted as a film location and a place to carry out film stunts. A little beyound the airfield I was puzzled by what looked like several army tanks concealed in a wood, then realised that these were not real tanks but were something to do with a paintball game.
We found that neither of the two pubs in Bovington was offering food that day, perhaps we should have made enquiries in advance. However, a couple of village general stores were open so we were able to buy some sandwiches then we went back to one of the pubs for a drink and a share of the log fire.
The picture below shows some of us entering the pub and the structure in the foreground is a well house that originally housed a hand pump.
After lunch we followed footpaths in a north easterly direction from Bovingdon untl we reached the Grand Union canal, then followed the canal towpath back to Berkhamstead. Thanks due to Geoff for refreshments at each end of our ramble.
30 March to 2 April - Easter Weekend at Wells-next-the-Sea
Wells-next-the-Sea YHA (picture taken in pouring rain!)
Ten HSC members (Geof, Mark S, Mark T, Jo, John, Gerald, Frank,Esin,Barbara and Richard) spent Easter weeked at Wells-next-the-Sea YHA on the north coast of Norfolk - an excellent turnout for our small but enthusiastic club! Four of us traveled from the south west of the UK, John and Josephine taking three days over the journey, doing some boating on the way - they stopped at Woodbridge and launched Josephine's sliding seat row boat from the car roof rack for a row down the Deben to Ramsholt arms and back.
Friday 20 March
Gathering in Wells on Good Friday we took a quick look around the town prior to a fish shop supper. It's a busy little town with quaint narrow streets and lots of little shops and cafes. I had the feeling that it had come a fair way 'up-market' since my last visit which was by sailing dinghy back in the '80s.
Saturday 31 March
Saturday was a thouroughly wet day.but we made the best of it with a walk westwards to Overy Staith, returning by bus - there is a frequent bus service along the north norfolk coast road, even over the bank holiday. Leaving the hostel we first visited the town quay which is up a creek about a mile inland from the sea, or rather more than that at low tide. The creek actually continues east past the quay then doubles back towards the sea before petering out among extensive salt marshes. Years ago Josephine and I explored the area by sailing dinghy, following this creek at high water to the point at which the width of the creek was the beam of our boat, whereupon we let the boat dry out and put up our boat tent for the night.
From Wells quayside we followed the path alongside the creek to the point where an extensive sandy beach meets pinewoods that fringe the shoreline. We stopped here at a large beach cafe that despite the weather was packed full with visitors making the most of a wet bank holiday weekend. Continuing to the west, the well made path follows the pine woods along the coast, then we took the option to cross the sand dunes and continue along the broad sandy beach before turning inland to follow the creek up to Overy Staith, where we found a very busy pub for afternoon tea prior to a bus trip back to Wells.
Looking west along the beach west of Wells, Scolt Head in the distance
Overy Staith, the end point of our walk on Saturday
Sunday 1st April
Sunday offered a bit better weather. There are basically two good coastal walks you can do from Wells - east and west, so on Sunday we went east. In this direction the coast path is well inland from the sea, with a wide expanse of saltmarsh between the path and the sea.
Typical view on the coast path between Wells and Blakeney - extensive salt marsh to the right of the picture
Coming to the village of Stiffkey, we visited the Maritime Heritage Centre run by the charity Rescue wooden boats. Alongside the Heritage centre are several workshops carrying out restoration and maintenance of the boats that they are preserving and also doing paid work on traditional wooden boats. The Heritage centre and workshops are housed in several large sheds that date from WW2 when the site was a barracks and gunnery training establishment. We were taken on a guided tour of the workshops which were packed with craft in various stages of restoration together with masses of tools, materials and nautical paraphenalia. The prize exhibit is the 'Lucy Lavers', a wooden motor lifeboat that was completed just in time to take part in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk in 1940. This former lifeboat is now afloat each summer, taking visitors on pre-booked day trips from Wells.
One of the workshops at 'Rescue Wooden Boats'
Wooden boat builders know that you cant have too many clamps
We lunched at Stiffkey then walked on along the coast path to Blakeney, returning to Wells by bus.
Monday 2nd April
We all left Wells on Monday morning, John, Josephine and Frank taking a look at Castle Rising on the way home. They had lunch in the cafe at Castle Rising village, then found an up-market lady's clothing shop in a large converted barn opposite the cafe - Josephine was fascinated! (pictures below)
The massive keep of Castle Rising
And ladies know that you can't have too many hats
Or too many shoes!