17-Feb-2007 -- As the three of us were setting up for a workshop in the CamGIS program for integrating Geographic Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems into teaching and research, a confluence visit seemed like the perfect way to begin several days of intense spatial thinking. I was working with Liz and Peter to offer the course for secondary school geography teachers in the region, and those training to be teachers, at the University of Cambridge.
Liz and I left Cambridge at 9:30am, stopping en route to the confluence to pick up Peter O'Connor. Speaking about all things geography and education, we drove through the beautiful country of Suffolk, which was part of the kingdom of East Anglia, settled by the Angles from Germany in the 5th Century. The sky became cloudy and we encountered patchy fog, adding a sense of mystery to our adventure. En route to the confluence, we stopped in two wool towns that were made wealthy from the 15th Century cloth trade. These included Clare, where the pargetry (ornamental plaster coating) on the buildings was quite unique, and Long Melford, where we had a tea and an enjoyable walk along the "long" main street.
We drove southeast along the A134, and then east on the A1071 through some wonderfully beautiful terrain that was slightly hilly. At Hadleigh, we turned southeast on B1070 and the suspense rose. Passing Layham, Raydon, and the Brett Vale Golf Club, we drove east on the road to Great Wenham. Next, we doubled back and drove south, but then realized that the Great Wenham Road would actually bring us closest to the confluence. Doubling back again, Liz perched us adeptly along this road, which had a surprising amount of traffic on it. We shortly found one of my favorite parts of the English landscape: A public footpath. Amazingly, one here cuts straight across the field we needed to traverse. What a country!
Crops grown in Suffolk include winter wheat, winter barley, sugar beets, rapeseed, winter and spring beans, and linseed, although rye and oats and a variety of vegetables can also be found. This field had been planted in what appeared to be grasses, and we stepped gingerly to avoid damaging the field, gaining some weight on our shoes from the mud. However, the sky was glorious, having cleared up, and the temperature surprisingly warm (10 C; 50 F).
We turned east on the south edge of the field, crossing 1 degree East, and then, on the east side of the field, realized that the south edge of the field was the closest approach to the confluence. We walked to this point and enjoyed taking the movie and photographs. Upon Peter's urging, I then gingerly stepped out onto the field about 8 meters to snag the actual spot. Thus, the confluence lies near the southeast corner of the field, closest to the southern edge, on land that is nearly flat but sloping slightly to the northeast.
This was my second time to stand on 52 North, having done so in 2003 on the Prime Meridian. This was my second time on 1 East, after an English channel voyage with Gordon Spence in 2004. This was my 4th confluence in the United Kingdom and I was grateful that my colleagues wanted to venture to this unique spot. We saw no other people on foot, sighted a few birds, and could see a few houses to the north and northeast from the confluence.
We left the site feeling quite centered, bound for a peaceful walk along the River Stour and the area where John Constable created many of his beautiful landscape paintings . This is truly wonderful countryside, and once again, a confluence visit was an excellent way to see the terrain while enjoying two of the finest people I have ever worked with.