REPORT: Mapping Bungay wellbeing walk no 1 – Falcon Meadow and Bridge Street

Image3313Last Saturday seven of us met up at the Bungay Community Library garden to start our wellbeing series of walks around Bungay. We are mapping all the best spaces and green places in town throughout the summer and wlll be posting up our next ones in the new newsletter out at the end of the month. Meanwhile here is one of the group, Jenni Jepson with her impresssions of the morning:

All the signs were there, pointing to the possibility that this was going to be one of those special days…very special!

Image3323Overnight there’d been a major atmospheric shift. After months of being stuck in a wintry northern quarter, the weathervanes on Bungay church had swung round to the warm west.

And at daybreak there was a clear blue sky. The birds knew that spring had arrived: the dawn chorus was louder than ever and three pairs of big gulls celebrated in style as they circled in the warm air currents above Clays print works. Food was no longer their top priority: it was being in the moment, having fun!

A short time later, I joined a small group from Sustainable Bungay, delighted to have this chance to celebrate the arrival of spring with other folk. Just the previous day, news had reached me that the first swallows of summer had been sighted in the Waveney valley.

Our impromptu stroll took us to some favourite “secret” spots along the Waveney backwaters. On the way, we stopped in no man’s land near the library to look at a healthy mixed crop of bittercress and chickweed; a reminder that the forager’s season has started. (Made a mental note to come back and pick some for a spring salad!)

Image3326It felt good to stroll round, sharing and savouring some of the treasures, large and small, on our doorstep. It gave us all a chance to stop and stare, to pause and feel the connections with the land and with our surroundings: to admire the beautiful workmanship of a weatherbeaten casement window (a feature worthy of Venice), or wonder at a profusion of harts’ tongue ferns, thriving in a dark, damp corner.

Halfway round, someone pointed out a tree. I’d passed this huge ivy-clad shape many times, without giving it a second glance. But as we stopped and looked up, its bud-filled branches came into view, bowing gracefully against the blue sky. It turned out to be a black poplar, which tree lovers talk about in reverential tones, and John Constable immortalised in many of his landscapes.

DSCN2397These fast-growing trees can grow to majestic 100ft…this one was probably 70ft. They are becoming quite rare, party because of their quirky pollination habits, but were much-prized in the past: matches and clogs were made from this timber. We spotted fallen twigs nearby, with their strange crimson buds (sometimes known as devil’s fingers). This indicated that it was a male poplar (green female catkins ripen on separate trees). Without thinking I popped a twig in my pocket, only to discover later that it’s unlucky to pick up the fallen twig of this tree.

Well, I’m not superstitious but I now feel compelled to go back and take a closer look at this wooden giant and return the twig from whence it came. Don’t want to tempt fate now that spring has arrived!

A brilliant walk, SB! Can’t wait for the next one!

Text: Jenni Jepson; All images Mark Watson except *Jenni Jepson: Looking over the bridge at Falcon Meadow; in the alleyway; Bridge Street (en route to Bungay Tea Rooms; black poplar bud*