14 May 1999

GREATWEEKEND WALKING TALL…

ONCE discovered, never forgotten, is the boast of the Abbey Hotel, Wymondham, Norfolk, where we stayed for our recent walking weekend. And its true, says Jean Howells.

It nestles in a quiet backwater of this old market town and the only sound to be heard is birdsong. Overlooking the twin towered Abbey church it seems so peaceful but at night those of a nervous disposition could be advised to stay indoors. Both towers are floodlit and shadows are cast across the ancient graveyard where a mist rises. Owls hoot, bats flutter past, and there are local rumours that after William Kett, the brother of Robert Kett, leader of the Norfolk uprising, was hanged from the west tower, the outline of his body showed up on the lichen on the ground below.

On St Georges Day evening, the hotel chef excelled herself with the choice of menu. Many chose succulent roast beef but the most popular dish was duck. Was that why my car was splattered when I came to move it – ducks revenge?

&#42 Cuckoos calling

Saturday dawned reasonably bright with cuckoos calling at 4.30am. By 10am we were ready to be led around the town by our guide, Janet Smith, past librarian of the town. She drew our attention to many interesting aspects of the architecture, not least all the different roof coverings and the fact that many of the buildings are in fact timber framed but brick faced. In the afternoon we had a gentle stroll along the banks of the River Tiffey ending up with afternoon tea at the award winning Brief Encounter restaurant at Wymondham station. A real step into the past, we sat on first class carriage seats surrounded by memorabilia of when it was romantic to travel by train.

As on Friday evening we were joined for dinner by Norfolk FWC members, there are three groups in this large county and all of them were represented. An evening of great conversation ensued and I am sure many new friendships started that evening.

The proper walk of the weekend commenced in brilliant sunshine on Sunday morning. We set out with a bounce in our stride to reach Kimberley Church where our picnic lunch had been left earlier in my car under a spreading chestnut tree. About halfway there we came across a local farmer moving his flock of sheep but who was unaware of a triplet left behind near to us. Rosemarie Gale and Joyce Stott went to its rescue but soon Richard Gale was roped in as there were about 20 lambs that just would not cross the ford.

&#42 Walk continued

We continued our walk although in the few weeks since checking it out and being impressed by sturdy new stiles found a No Entry sign blocking the footpath marked on my map. We kept to the edge of the field and soon came across the Wymondham footpath officer who was re-erecting signs along the route or as one of our party said "moving the goalposts"! We continued past the magnificent Kimberley Hall and onwards and upwards to our refreshment site. It was such a glorious day that no-one wanted to go home but work was calling! However, we have another walking weekend planned for October, this time in Shropshire. Why not join us there?

Farm Womens Club

This informal friendship club has more than 60 groups nationwide and is open to all female readers of FW.

Details from Jean Howells (0181-652 4927)

DEVON

Tue, May 25, 12.30pm. Meet at Broadclyst village hall for buffet lunch followed by demonstration Clothes Co-Ordination by Mrs Gyerest. Please bring contribution for lunch, plates and cutlery. Names to Betty Hill (01823-680315) by May 22.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

Thur 20 and Fri 21 May, 4.45pm. An opportunity to visit Marks & Spencer, Cheltenham for a store tour followed by discussion with management. Numbers strictly limited, a few spaces left. Contact Phyllis Charter (01452-830435).

ISLE OF WIGHT

Wed, May 19, 8.45am. Meet at Yarmouth Ferry Terminal to catch 9am ferry to Lymington and 9.30am coach to Wilton. Return from Lymington at 5.15pm. Contact Sheila Brownrigg (01983-756612).

KENT

Tue, May 18, 12 noon. Meet at Ightham Mote. Bring a picnic or use their cafeteria. Contact Marlene Wright

(01732-810726).

LEICESTERSHIRE

Tue, May 18. Coach leaves Wymeswold at 8.30am, Ashby Royal Hotel 9am, Barton Under Needwood Church 9.30am for visit to Haye House, Bridgnorth for flower demonstration and lunch. Contact Jean Mills (01509-880434).

LINCS-LOUTH

Wed, May 26, 3pm. Meet at Lorna Laughtons home, The Poplars, Back Lane, North Cockerington for social afternoon and beetle drive. Please bring a plate tea. Contact Lorna (01507-327371) by May 24.

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

Wed, Jun 2, 10am to 12 noon. Coffee morning at Betty Alcocks home, The Old Stone House, 111 Northampton Road, Brixworth. Bring and Buy sale and raffle. Admission £1. Proceeds to Marie Curie Cancer Care. Contract Betty

(01604-880231).

SOMERSET-MENDIP

Wed, June 23, 8.30am. Coach leaves Showfield, Frome for Maidenhead and boat trip to Windsor to see castle and royal wedding flowers. Names asap to Audrey Pattinson (01373-463040).

WORCS

Tue, May 25, 7.30pm. Meet at Sinton Green village hall for Gardeners Question Time with Mike and Reg Mold from BBC. Supper £6, husbands and partners welcome. Contact Mary Pritchard

(01905-640531).