Intrepid explorers we were not, and the Ipswich hinterland is hardly uncharted territory, but even so, the groups of members who assembled to walk the proposed Fonnereau Way on 22 June and Churchman's Way on 2 July, under the guidance of Roger and Stella Wolfe, were probably discovering places they had never reached before!
The purpose of these two proposed routes is to provide easily accessible "green corridors" out of Ipswich into the surrounding countryside, short walks of not more than three miles which can be started from or terminated at public transport connections. They are intended to form part of the much wider "Greenways Project" which through the agency of a consortium of the Suffolk County Council, district, parish and town councils, the Ipswich Borough Council and a range of wildlife and environmental groups, is putting into place a wide variety of envirornmental preservation and improvement features in and just beyond the Ipswich borough boundary. Forty-three such features are listed in the recent annual report of the Project, including for example improvement to heathland at Belstead Heath, managing a wild flower bank at West End Road and maintaining Grundisburgh's Millennium Meadow. Most of the work is being done by dedicated volunteer groups.
The Fonnereau Way is intended to provide a route from Christchurch Park to Westerfield, using public transport at the beginning or end of the trail. We enjoyed an eight minute train ride, Ipswich to Westerfield. It was said that probably Westerfield had not seen so many passengers alighting at one time for many a day! Along the walk back into Ipswich, features of the route were pointed out by James Baker, the Greenways Project Officer, Peter Scotcher, an Ipswich Parks Ranger, and Paul Jackson, a tree surgeon. The route [photo below] has a varied content - a village footpath in Westerfield, an ancient hedge and ditch boundary, a railway crossing, hay meadows, and last but not least all the interesting features in Christchurch Park itself.
The second outing took us along the proposed Churchman's Way, named for Sir Arthur Churchman (later Lord Woodbridge) who presented Chantry Park and Mansion to Ipswich Borough in 1927. The route takes in a large portion of the Park. This time the group walked out from Ipswich, starting first through Gippeswyk Park. This park was given to Ipswich by that other notable benefactor of our town, Felix Cobbold, giving rise to the off-the-cuff suggestion that an alternative name for this green corridor should be Cobbled (sorry - Cobbold!) Way.
We progressed to Chantry Park after navigating a rather busy London Road, gaining access by what was until very recently an "unofficial" entry into the park up a steep roadside bank. This has, under the Greenways Project, now become an official one with the construction of a very sturdy set of wooden steps. It was there and then ceremonially opened by the cutting of a tape by our President, the Mayor of Ipswich, Councillor Penny Breakwell, who had undertaken to walk with the group. Both she and her husband who accompanied her are keen walkers. As on the previous walk, we had been joined by James Baker and Peter Scotcher, and as we passed through the park we were kept informed about the management of all the different environmental areas and concerns within it - the hay meadows, the wilderness areas, the woodland, the ponds, as well as the more formal gardens and sport and recreational areas.
After strolling down Church Lane into Sproughton - to the church naturally - the Mayor then proceeded to perform an unexpected but popular little ceremony, when she presented a medal and scroll to Roger Wolfe, confirming him as one of Ipswich's "Unsung Heroes", a recognition on behalf of Ipswich Borough Council of the dedicated work he has undertaken in planning and walking out these proposed routes as part of the Greenways Project.
From Sproughton, after suitable refreshment, the energetic ones walked back to Ipswich along the Gipping Path and two defaulters, who are named below, decided to test out the public transport. Definitely worthwhile!
RUTH and BILL SERJEANT