Sunday, 12 April 2009

12 April: Day ride to Great Saling and West Wratting

Mike Stapleton writes: We had a good turn out for today's day ride to Andrews Field at Great Saling, in spite of it being a rather dull morning. In fact by the time we got to Coploe Hill the mist was down to a couple of hundred feet at the top of the hill. A typical east coast "har", as the people in Hull call it. It kept the temperature down and reduced the view from the top of the hill. We carried on regardless and dropped down to Audley End where Lord Braybrook was getting the railway ready for visitors.

Then up and over the hill by the water tower, and on over the hills to the Debden turn where we went left up the hill to the Spar Shop at the Carver Barracks. John T told us about this. It is very good - a proper shop, open on Sundays, with a really good coffee machine and a place to sit down and drink it.

After coffee, several members set off for home but the majority headed off along the main road to Thaxted. In fact it wasn't too busy and as it's an easier route then the one through Debden we made very good progress. In fact I was told off for going too fast (well, there is a long downhill section...).

We continued through Thaxted and on to the little road leading south to Duton Hill. A sign warned us that it might be closed but as usual it wasn't. Then up through Duton Hill and through the lanes to Stebbing. Here I asked the group they wanted to continue via the road or the track but no one answered, so I took the road.

We arrived at Andrews Field at 1 pm where we were welcomed. It appears there was no flying due to the low cloud. Lunch in the cafe was as good as always and was very reasonably priced.

After lunch about half of the riders set off to return home while the remainder headed out into deepest Essex and Suffolk. We rode along some fantastic lanes on the way to Shalford and I even found us a shallow ford to ride through. We continued down towards Dunmow before turning east and north. I mistakenly carried on at Blackmore End but fortunately Joseph spotted my error and pointed out the right route at the Wethersfield Road.

We then headed through Stanbourne and over the hills to Wixhoe and Kedington. I was quite sure we had plenty of time but I was wrong. Those miles near home on familiar roads always seem to take longer. Anyway we made it in time for tea at West Wratting - but only just. At the Chestnut Tree we met the afternoon ride, and together there were 13 at tea. Tea was very good, as usual here.

After tea I had a relatively leisurely ride home and with a slight following wind it was quite easy. After a while I noticed that I was approaching the magic 100 miles, which really lifted my spirits for the final few miles.

Today was an excellent ride in the country on the day ride can reach. The afternoon section was particularly good as we all rode well together. Thanks to everyone for a great ride. Mike Stapleton.

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