Sunday, 21 September 2014

21 Sep: All-day ride to Saffron Walden, Hatfield Broad Oak and Hare Street

Nigel writes: I had only volunteered to lead this ride the previous evening, but that had been enough time for me to plan a route for what was forecast to be a pleasant and sunny day. The only other riders at Brookside were Pete and Conrad, and the three of us had a leisurely ride down to coffee in Saffron Walden.

We took a fairly direct route there since I had planned a fairly long stage afterwards. This took us south along the usual route to Ickleton and then over Coploe Hill to Catmere End. However from there, instead of the familiar descent along Chestnut Avenue to Audley End House, I decided to take a road to Littlebury that I wasn't sure that I had ever taken before.

Link road leading to Littlebury Green Road

From Littlebury we continued east up Windmill Hill to the B184 and from there along the B184 into Saffron Walden. There we stopped for coffee at The Temeraire. Mike S was already there and after a short while we were joined by Rupert, Cheryl and Ian.

Morning coffee at The Temeraire, Saffron Walden

After coffee Pete, Rupert and Cheryl made their way back to Cambridge leaving Conrad, Ian, Mike and me to carry on to lunch at Hatfield Broad Oak. With 20 miles to go I took a fairly direct route. This took us first to Debden and then Debden Green where we turned right onto quieter roads through Hamperden End to Broxted.

Hamperden End

We continued south to Molehill Green on the northern edge of Stansted Airport. After briefly skirting the airport we turned off towards Bambers Green and Takeley, from there a pleasant meander along some very quiet lanes brought us to Hatfield Broad Oak, where we stopped for lunch at Broad Cammas Hall Fruit Farm.

Stopping for lunch at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm

This was the club's first visit to what is essentially a pick-your-own farm. I suspect it hasn't been open long, and the large cafe (and shop) was very quiet. The food on offer consists of sandwiches, paninis and cakes and was entirely satisfactory.

After lunch we turned west, skirting Hatfield Forest and passing through Spelbrook and Green Tye (where Mike left us to take a shorter route) to Much Hadham. There's an excellent ford here here but I was the only one brave enough to ride through. A few minutes further west we reached Barwick Ford, where once again I was the only one who didn't use the bridge.

Barwick Ford

After the ford we turned north to Standon, Puckeridge and Hare Street. This took us directly into the wind which slowed us down somewhat, making me glad that I had abandoned my earlier plan to take a longer route.

We arrived at the March Hare Cafe at about 3.45pm, with Mike S arriving at exactly the same time. Although I had been here before, this was my first visit to the cafe in its current incarnation and was pleased to discover that it was very pleasant, with very welcoming staff and some equally welcoming armchairs in a rather cosy library-like area. A large group of cyclists had visited earlier in the day and eaten many of the cakes, but there were plenty left for us.

Afternoon tea at the March Hare Cafe, Hare Street

After a few minutes later the afternoon ride arrived which on this occasion consisted of John E, Simon and Andy. They had set off with a fourth person but they had decided to take a different route and were not seen again.

After tea we all cycled back to Cambridge. Conrad, John and Simon returned by the direct route along the B1368 whilst Simon, Ian and I took a slightly longer and definitely prettier route via Anstey, Nuthampstead, Great Chishill, Chrishall Grange and Fowlmere. This is one of our most distant tea stops and the journey home was about 22 miles, much of it directly into a rather cold headwind. I arrived home at 6.45pm, having cycled 85 miles.

Download GPS track (GPX).


  1. The Cammas Hall Farm can get crowded. I was there in early August and the place was heaving with families. I suspect the low numbers of people that day was because of the overcast weather and the fact that it was getting close to the end of the season (the farm and café is only open till the 28th of September).

    On another note, I think we arrived at the March Hare at 3:45 pm not 4:45pm.

    Thanks for leading the ride. It was a very enjoyable route especially from Bamber Green turnoff till Puckeridge.