A walk to remember – Lucy and Kate’s story
Lucy and Kate share their walking challenge to fundraise for MS-UK , in memory of their late mother.
Remember those really warm days just over a month ago? Yes, really, it was very warm – it was actually so sunny and warm that on one of those beautiful days I got a little sunburn – in March! I was out in the lovely spring sunshine for four and a half hours to raise money for MS-UK.
My sister Kate and I had decided to walk the length of Suffolk, along St Edmund Way, aiming for people to sponsor us to raise money in support of MS-UK, and (luckily) we started our first leg of the walk on the warmest day of the year so far. Our mum had MS and, although she didn’t really need the support from MS-UK that much, Mum felt they were always there if she needed them. I remember her saying that she felt ‘lucky’ as she was diagnosed late in life, “I’m getting old anyway!” she would say, but she also felt MS-UK is a very valuable charity to others with MS.
Sadly, we lost Mum to cancer four years ago. After Mum died, I walked the Essex Way, and managed to raise money for the new Cancer Centre at Colchester Hospital. I’d spoken about it with Mum as she felt she wanted to support the new centre in some way, which just goes to show that she was thinking about other people, as she so often did – she knew there was no way that the centre would be built in time for her to benefit from it. She was happy that I had a plan. Just after her birthday and just before the 4th anniversary of losing Mum, my sister Kate and I thought it was about time we did something else in her memory.
We decided on the 80-mile route running the length of Suffolk, winding its way through some beautiful, quintessentially English, and typically Suffolk villages along the way. Our first leg was from Manningtree train station on the Essex/Suffolk border to Stoke by Nayland, approximately 11 miles, so a good chunk of it to start.
As soon as we stepped onto the track just beside Manningtree station we heard a chiff-chaff in the trees beside us, the first I’ve heard this year, reminding us that spring has arrived. At the end of the lane, just before we turned to walk through the red brick tunnel holding the train tracks above us, we saw the first of the signs for St Edmund Way, letting us know that we were on the right route. We continued to look for these markers along the route in reassurance, despite me carrying a paper copy of the Ordnance Survey Map in my backpack (and having the app on my phone)!
Still in Essex, but only just – along on the banks of the River Stour we spotted a pair of goldfinches, bouncing along the blackthorn that was lining the path. The flash of yellow and red brightened our walk and made me think of the huge tub of bird feed, bigger than your average kitchen bin, that Mum always had filled to the brim, ensuring that she helped the birds through winter.
Mum loved her wildflowers too, sometimes not necessarily knowing there more common names, usually referring to them with their old country folk names, so I was pleased to spot a few stitchwort flowers just about opening, of course Mum called these ‘shirt buttons’. Soon the banks and hedgerows will be full of these pretty little white stars, just in time to coincide with the bluebells, which make for a beautiful combination, especially with a few red campion thrown in for measure!
As it turns out, it has been rather cold for a while now and nature has very slowing been waking up, the bluebells are only just here and the hawthorn is still in bud. We have now completed three sections of our walk and have reached Melford Country Park. We have enjoyed an abundance of wildlife, wildflowers and other sites along the way, including a pair of red kite circling above us at Nayland, the dragon on the walls of St Mary the Virgin at Wiston, peacock, brimstone and orange tip butterflies, swallows over Sudbury Meadows, and a little mouse, busy in the bottom of the hedgerow, that we quietly watched for a few seconds but it felt like several minutes.
Mum loved Suffolk and would have loved all the wildlife we have seen so far, she would have been able to identify so much more of it, but we are working on our knowledge and can’t wait to see what we discover next!