Following on from our trip to Glastonbury in the west country of England in
February, our attention a month later turned to East Anglia. Not being that
far from where I live in Hertfordshire, I drove down Friday late afternoon
straight from work to the bunkhouse in Brantham Hall, Brantham, near
Manningtree, in Suffolk. The Stour
Valley Path is a 96-kilometre
long-distance footpath in Suffolk,
from Newmarket to
Cattawade, a village near Manningtree.
Another path known as the Stour and Orwell Walk runs for 63
from Cattawade near Manningtree on the Suffolk/Essex border
along the estuaries of the Rivers Stour and Orwell to Felixstowe, where it
continues as the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Path. As all the waters it traces
are tidal, it may be considered as the first chunk of a Suffolk Coast walk.
My outgoing route
Friday from Welwyn Garden City took me past Colchester on the M25, whilst the return home
via Ipswich and Bury St Edmonds was a lot more direct. The smallish, though
neat, single-storey complex holds a total of 20 beds
and though I had initially been allocated a tiny room containing 2 bunks, I
was joined later by John Robertson, since the level of interest for the hike
was such that the weekend was over-subscribed.
path follows the catchment
of the River
majority of the route forms part of European
It connects with the Icknield
Coast and Heaths Path and
Conveniently, dinner was a mere stone's throwaway from Brantham Hall.
The Brantham Bull pub was within walking distance and the route even shorter
if one took the short cut. Though one frequently finds steak and ale or
chicken and leek pie on pub menus across the length and breadth of Great
Britain, for some strange reason, this particular pub had decided to create
a festival out of it, conjuring up images of festival attendees stuffing
themselves with pie until they popped or discussing the contrasting culinary
merits of one baker's pastry or the fillings with another perhaps. Perhaps
it was that I didn't associate this corner of the UK as being synonymous
with the English pie, despite it being one of the icons of British cuisine.
After all, the town of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire is home to the
annual British Pie Awards, the supreme champion netting a £1000 award. Not
wishing to appear to be the party-pooper, I joined in and ordered.