Oh, what joy! Another last Saturday of April, another wondrous spring outing : April never lets us down. A great gathering of Roaders, former Roaders, and friends (19 in all) met at Liverpool Street Station for the train to Bures, changing at Marks Tey, full of people lured into the country by the promise of blue skies, sunshine, and great white bursts of sloe, or whatever.

Lovely to be able finally to exit London from Liv St after so many years (it seems) of buses-only on vital parts of a beckoning prospective expedition to Essex and Suffolk.

Lovely walking through settled, unspectacular landscapes with occasional wide views and steepled churches, the sort of landscape that Thos Gainsborough of Sudbury made a fortune by putting in the background of his portraits of foreground nobs and nobbesses.

The Ramble split in two at Great Henny in the graveyard of St Mary’s church with its curious miniature decoy tower erected ten years ago to keep woodpeckers from destroying the newly restored real church tower. Shortcutters took three miles out of the walk but eschewed real lunch; the others rambled harder, were badly let down when the guidebook said “turn right in the middle of this field” (who knows where the middle of a 30 acre field is?) but arrived just in time for last food orders at the Fox at Bulmer Tye (good food in the open air).

Then back to the train at Sudbury, bronzing in the pouring sunshine so that Old Africa Hands reverted to type as we walked. By popular request we did the traditional thing of getting lost two or three times on the way, as Ramblers plumped for the scenic route that did not cross the River Stour, still well guarded by concrete pillboxes that will probably survive till Judgement Day, or beyond.

One shortcutter managed to fit in a visit to Gainsborough’s House and still meet the completists at the station just in time for the 5pm train back to the main line (once an hour); it promptly broke down on arrival at Marks Tey.

Two Ramblers took a different path and have yet to be heard of*. But it was a splendid outing full of glee and an uncountable number of greens on display in the unfurling foliage. A wonder walk as exhilarating as the memorable snowbound outing in January. There is something magical about these Three Saturdays of the Year.

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*It subsequently transpired that the lost duo failed to persuade a canooist to take them across the River Styx/Stour and had to resort to a taxi from Sudbury to get them back to mainline Britain.

Words: Peter. Pictures: Annie(mostly)

FOOTNOTE: One athletic Rambler did not wear Sensible Shoes. Made no difference whatsoever, even after ten miles. As the pretty picture shows.

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