Thursday, 7 May 2015

26 Apr-1 May: Club holiday in Darsham, Suffolk

Mike writes: Adrian, Jim and Eva organised the stay at Darsham Station in East Suffolk. The station as you can see is a massive Victorian structure that has been passed on to a local charity who provide country holidays for urban children. It is also available for private groups. It has seven rooms which have two beds and up to four bunks in each.

We had twelve members in our group so everyone had a bed and plenty of room. On the ground floor there was a huge kitchen, a dining room and a lounge. It was in the best position for visiting attractions from Lowestoft to Woodbridge.

Our accommodation at Darsham Station

The railway is still working though it only survived Beeching by the skin of its teeth. Darsham is still a working station with an hourly train each way. It was increased from one every two hours recently when it was resignalled. Three long sections are single track. The trains though slow are very comfortable.

There were 20 in the group and Bobby the white Scotty dog. Steve joined us for a day ride on Tuesday and came again on Thursday and stayed overnight. Geoff joined us for the ride on Thursday.

The weather was good apart from a heavy rain shower on Wednesday. Monday there was a westerly wind which was ideal for the group riding from Cambridge. They arrived about 6 45pm after calling at Cratfield where Rupert, Avril, Mike C C, Andy, Sarah and John Ross stayed in luxury accommodation. Our station was a bit more basic though still very good, but had the advantage of being close to the coast.

We split up into small groups and visited a range of places. These included Snape, Dunwich, Alborough and the Transport Museum at Carlton Colville. On our first day most of us went first to Snape for coffee. We then wandered through the lanes to Leiston Abbey which is surprisingly large. Then on via one of Adrian's tracks though the edge of Minsmere to Dunwich for an afternoon snack. Mick Cousins claims to have seen two Dolphins in the sea off Dunwich. Then back to Darsham.

Leiston Abbey

Adrian Lee and Steve in Minsmere Forest

I have very little info about Wednesday as I did my own thing and visited Leiston Long Shop. The Long Shop was a factory stared in the 18th century to make steam engines. The Long Shop is thought to be one of the first places where mass production methods were used. On the way back I was held up by a wild west Gunman but on payment I was allowed to pass.

The Long Shop

The Western Gunslinger

Halesworth High Street

On Thursday I persuaded Adrian, Vic and Steve to visit the East Anglian Museum of Transport at Carlton Colville near Lowestoft. We travelled through the lanes and a new cycle path to Halesworth for the inevitable cup of tea at the bakers in the High Street. Steve found an old fashioned hardware shop which he regarded as especially interesting. We ended up talking about pink and blue paraffin!

Back on the road it was one of those perfect days with the wind behind you and no steep hills. The countryside was beautiful in glorious sunshine. Steve found a roadside stall selling local jam and vowed to visit it on his way home. We arrived at the Museum just in time for lunch. We rode on a trolleybus and a tram which took us back to childhood days. There was a London tram like the ones I used to go to Tech just after the war. I remember how they used to cut out half way up the hill. After spending nearly three hours looking at old vehicles and watching a Fred Dibner video we decided to return to Darsham by the handy train. Unfortunately the signalling system had been attacked by lightning the night before and the train was nearly an hour late. It was a very relaxed ride as we had plenty of time.

Transport Museum

We went to a different pub every night starting with the Fox at Darsham. The Manageress was a bit overwhelmed by 16 customer but managed amazingly quickly with wonderful food. On the second night we went right out into the sticks to the Huntersfield Arms at Huntersfield. Again a memorable night especially as we had a thunderstorm, without any obvious clouds, on the way home. On our last night we went just down the road to the King's Head at Yoxford. Once again it was an excellent choice.

The next day we had to leave for home but not before the wind changed to the north east to blow us back to Cambridge.

Many thanks to everyone for their company which as usual was very good. Thanks to Adrian and Eva for organising the trip. Thanks for the car drivers who took as to the evening meals. Mike Stapleton

Craig, Adrian, Keith, Frances, Doug, Greta, Steve, Mick, Jim, and Vic at Darsham Station

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