Mike Stapleton writes: Today's all-day ride was led by Joseph who set out to provide an interesting ride. The first part of the ride took us via Linton and Ashdon to reach the Spar shop at Carver Barracks via country roads.
There were about eight or nine riders at the Spar Shop, where Mike S, John T, John L and Greta joined the group for coffee. After Coffee the latter three had to return home, and Joseph led the remainer out through Debden after which he turned west towards Henham to avoid Thaxted and our usual route.
Joseph then took us down the narrow lane near Cherry Green to Broxted. This is so small it has gravel down the middle in places. From Broxted we headed south into the lovely country just east of Stansted Airport. (It will be a terrible loss if the second runway is built and we lose all these lanes). We rejoined the usual route near the Eastons and continued on the lanes to the edge of Dunmow, where we had lunch by the Doctors Pond in the lovely Tea Tree Cafe. The pond is is quite large and has a claim to fame in that it was used for testing the first self-righting lifeboat. It is now used by ducks geese and fishermen; we saw some quite large fish caught whilst we were there.
After lunch Joseph took us out onto the Flitch Cycleway leading towards Rayne. The route starts just off the main road going south, as the original route of the railway was lost when the new roads were built. The initial approach is quite hard to locate and crosses a dry ditch on a single narrow plank. Once over this obstacle it all gets easier and there is a good track back up to the old railway.
From here to Rayne is a lovely ride with good surfaces except that the bridge over the Felstead road has been removed and you have to drop down onto the road and then back up again onto the railway path. We carried on to Rayne where there is a Cafe and Visitor Centre in the old station. We then turned north onto the old main road and headed west and north to Shalford. The lanes to Shalford are very quite and not too hilly.
After Shalford, Joseph took us up the hill to Waltham Cross which I assure you is not in London. There are miles of lovely lanes that meander up and down the hills and finally brought us into the village of Finchingfield past the church and down the steep hill to the bridge. We could see the location of the new cafe there but did not have time to check it out - it's on the green to the left of the road to Great Bardfield.
We cycled on from Finchingfield past the Windmill and thrn turned up the hill by Spains Hall, which looks as though it is a Tudor mansion and is now used as a Conference and Wedding Centre. The climb over the hill was relatively easy and we arrived just on 5 o'clock at the Three Horseshoes at Helions Bumpstead where we met the afternoon ride for a super tea. There were fourteen at tea.
Many thanks to Joseph for a really good route and perfect timing. Mike Stapleton.
Tea Tree Cafe, Great Dummow: www.theteatreeingreatdunmow.co.uk
Leaflet about the Flitch cycle route