Not many activities combine all of my favourite things: sunshine, beautiful scenery, mouth-watering food and a feel-good factor. But Walk with a Fork did just that.
Walk with a Fork is the brainchild of East Anglian charity Ormiston Families and basically comprises of walking around a beautiful park armed with a fork and spoon in order to sample local delicacies around the route. You can see why my attention was immediately caught.
This particular event took place in Sennowe Park, a grand estate that is not normally open to the public. An eight-mile route around the grounds was devised with several refreshment stops – each stop had one or more stalls where Norfolk producers showed off their wares and dished out samples of their delicious produce. All of this food was provided free for the charity.
The event proved to be so popular that starts were staggered across the morning – always a good sign. When we turned up it was obvious it was going to be the perfect autumn day – the skies were completely clear, the sun still held some warmth and there wasn’t a pesky wind blowing. This stood in marked contrast to the lashing rain and heavy, looming skies experienced just the day before. I think the Sun Gods must have been smiling down on Ormiston Families that day.
Once we were ready to set off, we were armed with a wooden fork and spoon ready to meet the challenges ahead. Striding across the ground in front of Sennowe Park’s house, we soon stumbled across the first stalls of the day. A hot sausage and a cup of coffee later (courtesy of Grey Seal Coffee Roastery and Blue Welly Farm), we felt ready to continue.
The walk began by curving around a tranquil lake before directing us off through a wood. We soon found that we had the route to ourselves, which enabled us to fully enjoy the peaceful quiet of the morning.
After winding through the trees on sun-dappled paths, we met our next taste sensation. This was the heavenly resting place of all things smoked and cured – wafer thin slices of chorizo and salami (Suffolk Salami Co.) were followed by a wrap of cured ham from the Fruit Pig Company filled with a carrot chutney. We were also given a dish of smoked prawns, fish pâté and various slithers of smoked fish from Cley Smokehouse. For pudding, there were some scoffable spoonfuls of Crush’s granola. This was, of course, all washed down with a rather lovely red wine.
Suitably refreshed, we left the stalls and strolled up a slight hill. Feeling a little merry, I skipped along past the hedgerows, which were burdened with blackberries that were fit to burst, their juice dark and rich enough to stain your fingers purple (I may have sampled a few).
As the haze of red wine was starting to lift, we entered more woodland that wound alongside the lake. After cresting a small hill, we were again required to feast under the watchful eye of a stone lion. A light salad filled with cheese, herbs and seeds provided by Titchwell Manor was followed by a glass of Woodforde’s ale. My red wine haze was soon replaced by a beer fog.
Weaving down the hill, we eventually worked our way back around the lake to the half-way point. Having endured a gruelling walk (ahem) we were definitely ready for lunch. A roll full of melt-in-your-mouth pork (donated by Arthur Howell) topped with apple sauce soon filled our bellies. We then sat with a glass of Aspall’s cider (the units were starting to add up!) in the sunshine by the lake, admiring the elegant boat house that presided over one end.
When we eventually managed to lever ourselves back up off the ground, we set back off into the trees and along the elegant driveway to the house. After ducking down the side of a bridge, we emerged blinking from underneath into more beautiful woodland. After ambling alongside fields bathed in sunshine, we mounted another undulation in the course and received a reward of a mini lemon meringue pie.
The route now wound back towards the house, with another brief stop for a bag of sweet popcorn. We wandered up to peer at the building, which was rather lovely without being too grandiose.
Finally, we stumbled, bellies full and heads clouded with booze, down to the finishing line. Tea and scones were waiting.
NB: I have missed out some companies that kindly donated because a) I got a bit tipsy and b) I struggle to remember what food went with which supplier… So, additional thanks has to go to:
Back to the Garden
Alfie’s Fresh Produce
Algy’s Farm Shop