Folks from across the region took part in this year’s East Suffolk Lines station-to-station Suffolk Walking Festival walk during Community Rail Week.
The festival comes around once a year and this year was the first time since the Covid pandemic that there were no restrictions on the types of walks that could be offered.
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership set plans in motion late last year to offer its ‘Garden of Suffolk’ walk Tuesday 23rd May as part of this year’s festival. The 6.25 mile route between Saxmundham station and Darsham station attracted some forty ramblers and two dogs from as near as Darsham itself to as far as Dulwich in South London.
Whilst the weather is always a factor, this year it couldn’t have been more cooperative. Walkers enjoyed a dry day with plenty of sunshine, maximum temperatures in the upper teens, and a nice fresh northerly breeze.
The procession climbed above the valley floor on exiting Saxmundham, making its way across the railway at the first foot crossing near Saxmundahm junction; that’s where the line to Leiston (formerly all the way to Aldeburgh) curves away from the East Suffolk Line.
A nearby pesky and persistent puddle surrounded by slippery and sludge-like clay encountered on the reconnaissance walk 10 days prior had all but disappeared thanks to the long stretch of dry weather, ensuring walkers’ shoes and boots remained mud free.
The group made its way along hedgerows and arable fields, sown mainly with oilseed rape and broad beans, but others left fallow, covered with carpets of buttercups. Not a soul was to be seen in these parts, at least the human kind, only a few horses who looked very happy to see something other than, well, a horse.
The newly upgraded foot crossing north of North Green was put to the test by one of the four-legged attendees and got a paws up for its dedicated animal door.
Entering Rookery Park is always interesting, and this time the group wasn’t let down. A herd of cattle was grazing with several newborns in tow, one who was nursing very persistently.
The low rumble of the A12 was now in the background as the ramblers made their way down from the peace of the plateau into lovely Yoxford with its magnificent church and even more magnificent Grade I listed Cockfield Hall. The star attraction though these days is the Yoxman, all 26 feet of him, standing high over the village.
With the A12 to the right, it was now just 10 minute’s walk along the pavement to Darsham station where a prize draw was held for some rail tickets kindly donated by Greater Anglia. The folks from the Darsham Country Centre charity (who run hostel-type accommodation in the old station building) provided some much welcome refreshments. The ratio of tea poured to coffee drunk was more than 10 to 1. It must have been the scones.
The East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership holds free station-to-station walks each month. More can be found on our Guided Walks page.