The 2014 PWMN Rally returns to Suffolk after a four year absence. Unlike the inaugural 2010 event which was located in the north of the county and also interloped into parts of Norfolk, the 2014 rally is set in the very heart of rural Suffolk amongst some of the most picturesque countryside in the United Kingdom. It is in this area that some of England's prettiest villages and small towns are to be found, where timber framed buildings have stood for centuries, a lasting testament to the wealth that the woolen trade brought to the area over a 200 year period. The geology of this part of Suffolk is entirely different to the flat fenland which lays thirty miles further north. This landscape has many gentle slopes while the River Stour meanders its way down to the sea passing through deciduous woodland and rich arable farmland on its way. This is ideal motoring country for eighty year old vehicles while places of interest abound, most famously Dedham Vale and the area known as Constable country.
That the area retains much of its peaceful charm is due in no small part to its location on East Anglia's bulge. Not a single mile of motorway passes through the county which co-incidently is also famous for having just three fixed 'speed' cameras, all of which are located at notorious accident blackspots. Our tours will take us across some of the county's busier highways while most of the miles will be covered covered on 'B' roads and byeways. Both the Saturday and Sunday tours take in a number of historic places of interest , while the scenery could have provided William Blake with the inspiration to write the words to the patriotic hymn Jerusalem back in 1804, with not too much changing in the intervening 209 years.
Although our rally takes place over just three days a visit to the area really does require significantly longer in order to do it justice. A visit to the Abbey Gardens in Bury St. Edmunds is a must and it's just 11 miles distant from the centre of Cavendish. Suffolk's two famous coastal resorts of Southwold and Aldeburgh are also close by with Snape Maltings a popular destination for shoppers and concert goers alike. The Benjamin Britten connection is very strong in this part of Suffolk and the Shell Sculpture on Aldeburgh beach is a striking example of this.
Of course Suffolk is also an RSPB stronghold with many reserves within its boundaries. The most famous of these is located at Minsmere just a few miles north of the Sizewell nuclear power station. It is here, that if you are very fortunate, you can hear the distinctive sound of a 'booming' Bittern. This small Heron is making a strong comeback in East Anglia and elsewhere in the U.K. but this is its stronghold. While the Bittern may be one of the star attractions at Minsmere there is much else to see and the site has a magnificent visitor centre that is also open to non-RSPB members.
Our Sunday tour itinerary will include a stop at Flatford Mill for those who want to take in the area's most famous tourist attraction, made so by the popularity of Constable's 'Hay Wain' painting completed in 1821. So lots to see and just two days in which to to achieve it!
There are three Inns located in the village of Cavendish itself. In total 11 rooms are available spread across the three locations, all of which are in easy reach of our Saturday and Sunday tour starting points. Clare, Long Melford, Sudbury, Lavenham and even Bury St. Edmunds are also within easy reach of Cavendish. The blue button (above) provides a series of links to websites where appropriate accommodation can be found and booked.
Ordnance Survey Landranger series no. 155 map covers most of the area, although tour maps will be provided in the rally packs for use in an emergency.
For those of you who have attended any of our previous rallies the following format will be familiar to you and will continue largely unaltered for 2014. Spread over three days and utilising Friday 6th June as a day of travel for many rallyists, proceedings will kick off with an evening pub meet at:
Friday evening 6th June - The Five Bells Inn, Cavendish: The Five Bells is located on a corner of the very large and beautifully landscaped village green, and sits in a traditional location for a village pub - adjacent to the village church! There is plenty of parking space available, both immediately in front of the pub and along the approach road. Our hosts for the evening are Gary and Bev Howlett who will be happy to take advance orders for food either via email at [email protected] or via telephone on 01787 280070. The pub also has a small number of newly commissioned B & B rooms for hire. In view of its close proximity to the starting point for our two tours, it could well suit those who prefer a very short journey immediately after their breakfasts.
Rallyists are asked to gather at The Five Bells from around 7:00 PM onwards where rally packs will be distributed together with name badges, these proving to be good ice-breaking aids as demonstrated at last year's Marlborough rally. While many of us will have met at other Minor gatherings it is hoped that many more who are new to our rallies will join us in 2014.
Saturday morning 7th June - The Bull Inn, Cavendish: Our hosts for a large part of our weekend are Peter and Elaine who run The Bull. Our Saturday tour will start from here utilising the large car park at the rear of the pub and the meadow beyond as an assembly point. Rallyists are requested to gather here at around 9:00 AM and be prepared to leave by no later than 9:45 AM in order that our Saturday lunch stop venue is reached in good time. The rally pack will include clear, simple to follow route instructions for all three tours taking place over the weekend, including information regarding local fuel stations and toilet facilities. Our Saturday lunch time venue remains to be confirmed at the time of writing but will be located where the optional packed lunches can be consumed picnic fashion, weather permitting.
The afternoon section of the tour will be of a shorter length than that of the morning (circa 40 miles) and will take in part of Lovejoy country on the Suffolk/Essex borders while also including a short sojourn into Essex itself. This section of the tour will of course conclude with our traditional cream tea stop. Our hosts at the tea stop request that we depart by 5:00 PM which will leave ample time to journey back to hotels or B & B's prior to the start of the evening's activities.
Saturday evening - The Bull Inn, Cavendish: Rallyists will be asked to gather at our Saturday evening dinner venue at 7:00 PM. The hostelry has a large patio to the rear of the property where we can enjoy an al fresco aperitif and catch-up on the day's happenings with fellow enthusiasts. Following the three course dinner, diners can expect a very brief formal interlude which includes the presentation of the Harry Edward's Trophy after which we can retire for the night in readiness for Sunday's activities.
Sunday morning 8th June- The Bull Inn Cavendish: For Sunday there is a choice of tours to consider. Both will start from our base at the rear of The Bull Inn with a recommended departure time of no later than 10:00 PM. The first of these will take-in part of what is known as Constable Country and will conclude at Flatford Mill on the River Stour, the site at which John Constable painted 'The Hay Wain', perhaps his best known work. While the site itself is beautiful and its image remain long in the memory, so also will the route from Cavendish, which meanders through some delightful countryside bordering the Stour as that river makes its slow journey to the sea.
The second tour for those with less of a cultural leaning, will take rallyists to Suffolk's County Town of Ipswich and its Transport Museum. Eric Mouser is a founder member of the museum and a PWMN member and he will host this section of the tour. For those who select this option the museum will admit all PWMN members at a discounted concessionary rate.
Sunday luncheon venues have been left for crews to arrange. There are a number of country pubs close to Flatford including those at East Bergholt and Dedham while those making the museum visit can either take advantage of the fare offered by the museum's cafe or those to be found en route back to Cavendish.
Sunday evening - The Five Bells, Cavendish: For those staying on an extra night in the area, the rally's concluding event is our 'Farewell' pub meet where we return once again to Friday's 'Meet and greet' venue. It is here where traditionally 'embellished' stories are swapped only for them to become folklore after they are included in the official rally report and published on the website. So beware!
Lavenham (above) Abbey ruins Bury St. Edmunds (below)
A view across Dedham Vale looking towards Dedham Church.
The three Cavendish village inns. Left to right, The Bull, The Five Bells and The George
The Hay Wain & Lovejoy!
Minoring & Ipswich Transport Museum