Monday, July 06, 2009

Walk to Aldeburgh

I woke up in my clothes. Hot. Sweaty. Needing a shower. Breakfast was booked and I was looking forward to it. I settled into the mess room at 7.45 with a croissant and a coffee. I sorted out my maps and leaflets. Others arrived at 8.00 and the cooked breakfast was ready at 8.30. In previous years breakfast had been laid out buffet style, but this year we got it cafe style, on a plate, and with no "eat as much as you can, and stuff a few sausages and bread rolls in your pockets before you leave" option either. Oh how this recession bites!

Somehow the YH cook was a sausage short and somehow I ended up being the person with only one sausage. bit unfair I thought, though I manged to negotiate half a sausage from one of my fellow cycling hostellers.

After a good night's sleep I still felt incapable of riding a bike vey far, so at 9.30 I set off on a long walk, with the intent to knacker out a completely different set of muscles. I succeeded.

Set off through the woods behind the youth hostel - heading for the estuary:

An enormous black cloud arrived as I approached Cliff.
This is about when the rainstorm arrived:

I sheltered, with two anglers, under an enormous oak tree while the rain passed overhead. I could hear the distant rumble of thunder. But it had passed in a few minutes, and I carried on with my walk.

Then more black clouds arrived, and more rain:

The sun peaked through sproadically, and I took the opportunity to take photographs of this really rather picturesque estuary.

I managed to avoid getting wet directly from the rain, but walking out on the embankment I had to go through tall reeds, and ended up absolutely soaked from waist down.
After the rain had stopped and the sky cleared, I put on my pod player and listened to Collings and Herrin...which continued to keep me amused for a an couple of hours.
I reached Snape Maltings; sunny now, and I began to dry off. Now the walk continued on the north bank of the estuary, heading east.
Funny sheep. they all watched me closely as I walked past. You can see the river in the background:

Soon after, the path became difficult to follow, so I used the river to guide me which was fine while i could see it but once i entered the woods, i was guessing again. Ended up in some sort of posh housing estate, with enormous houses and expensive cars, and probably litigious residents with very good lawyers who do not appreciate strangers wandering around on their land; or possibly rich loonies with gun licenses, and very good lawyers. So I made a bee-line for the main road; ended up climbing over a wire fence and joining the public footpath again. I had a seriously cool close encounter with a stoat while in those woods. I saw it bounding along towards me, then it stopped and raise itself up to sniff the air. It didn't back off though, just carried on in a great wide arc around me - about 10 feet away, and then bounded off into the distance. All far too quick to take a photo, naturally.

When I reached the main road into Aldeburgh, no footpath of course, I struggled along the verges while avoiding the speeding traffic, past a golf course, some big houses, I quickly realised that i wasn't going to be able to walk back to Blaxhall and wondered about getting a taxi back. then noticed a bus stop - but buses stopped at 3pm!! Hardly a comprehensive bus service is it? Decided that getting a bus was going to be plan A but it didn;t give me much time in Aldeburgh, though I could always come back on the bike in the next day or two.
So tired was I on reaching Aldeburgh that I ambled about exhausted and aching, trying to find the bus stop which was to be my only way back to Blaxhall without having to call taxi. Luck was with me, and there was a bus due within the hour.

I bought a coffee and took in the view of the sea. Me and S had a very enjoyable afternoon here two years ago, and it made me nostalgic. I texted S to express my continuing love for her, before wandering (some would say limping) to the high street - stopping to get some groceries from the co-op - and waiting at the bus stop. Beside me was the best fish and shop in Britain, by reputation, and it was shut, as it always was whenever I visited Aldeburgh.
I think that day gave me a frightening future vision of mself as an old man. I was being impatient with the overweight pensioners who had adopted a range of Zombie walks in their various states of decrepitude; and then I suddenly realised that I was in an extremely similar state. several muscles had given up the ghost and others had kicked in to take up the strain, which left me struggling along the streets in what was very much a Zombie walk. Temporary of course, but overall decline is inevitable. Come back in 30 years!

The bus arrived. I'd tried to get on the wrong bus first and met with monosylabic driver from the big city who grunted at me, and somehow managed to convey that this bis was not for me.
Once on the bus, the rain finally arrived, unrelenting, only stopping as I ran from the bus stop to the youth hostel in Blaxhall.

The other cyclist turned up shortly, wet through. I tried not to laugh.

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