As it happens, today’s ride included 2 of the 14 most rude and funny place names in Essex, namely Steeple Bumpstead and Rotten End. That means we still have to visit Fiddlers Hamlet, Turkey Cock Lane (where houses are apparently difficult to sell) and another 10 besides.
And so it was that 11 Windmillers gathered at the Fox and Hounds in Steeple Bumpstead and placed their lunch orders before setting off on a delightful tour of quiet lanes. Maurice led the way on his e-bike with his faithful followers behind – Ken, Vernon, Sandra, Lawrence, Brummie Brian, Chris, Graham, new boys Jeff (Geoff?) and Bruce (friends of Deborah) and Martin. Lawrence caught up at coffee time having been stuck in a jam on the A505.
Here is the route taken:
Maurice claimed to have brought his bolt croppers with him just in case Martin decided once again to padlock his bike to Vernon’s at the coffee stop in Castle Hedingham having forgotten to bring the key, as happened once before on his first ever outing with the club. But with a club policy of 3 strikes and you’re out, Martin’s membership was luckily allowed to continue.
The weather was cloudy but dry and except for a slight error of route we proceeded steadily towards an earlier than usual coffee stop in Castle Hedingham after just 9 miles, where there was a noticeable absence of hunger. Clearly, 15+ miles are needed before the yearning for scones and cakes sets in.
There was also a noticeable absence of hills initially, as can be seen in the gradient chart above, but that changed after coffee when a few gentle hills reminded us not to get too complacent. Eventually we arrived at Rotten End but there was nothing particularly rotten about it as far as we could see – it was in fact an idyllic spot with a bridge / ford over the fast flowing River Pant (surely another candidate for a funny Essex name?) which commences just east of Saffron Walden and feeds into the River Blackwater.
The Autumn colours were at their best in places, particularly the avenues of beech trees, and being a mild day this meant for comfortable riding with little traffic to contend with.
At Waltham’s Cross, not to be confused with Waltham Cross, we said hello once again to a field of wallabies who were lolloping around and seemed quite happy even though they were 10,000 miles from home:
Then came the pretty village of Great Bardfield and its Gibralter Mill:
We were by now on the last leg and passed a stunning litttle church in Little Sampford with an interesting tower. This turned out to be the Grade 1 listed early 14th century St Mary the Virgin, but looked from the outside as if in need of some tlc. More information here: http://www.english-church-architecture.net/essex%20l/little%20sampford/little_sampford.htm .
Continuing through quiet lanes, the peloton began to spread out a bit towards the end of the ride, in the usual fashion, or is this just a race to the bar? Having started a bit earlier than usual we were back at the Fox and Hounds by 12.45 and received a warm welcome before tucking into an excellent lunch washed down with Ridley’s Bishop’s Nick and other fine beers.
Thanks to Maurice for organising a great ride and to Statesman Andrew who was in New York up to mischief in Central Park………..
And congratulations to Graham for cycling from Ickleton and back again and to Sandra who accompanied Graham back, via Whittlesford railway station bridge (of all places!), and then through the lanes to near Royston, both clocking up an impressive mileage for the day.