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21 November. Geoff’s Ridgewell ride. 30 miles.

Starting from The White Horse Inn in Ridgewell on the A1017, between Haverhill and Castle Hedingham, this was a canny figure of eight ride devised by Geoff which took in some delightful new lanes whilst also incorporating some familiar ones. Assembling at 9.00am to have coffee and place lunch orders, eleven Windmillers set off soon afterwards led by Geoff and followed by Andrew, Rod, Ken, Roger, Lawrence, Deborah, Graham, Tom, Howard and Martin. Unfortunately, Charles had suffered a puncture on his car en route but he caught up with us later.

This is where we went, in a clockwise direction:

Ridgewell ride

Before setting off, there was some concern about the health of both Andrew and Roger as both appeared to be trying to access the defibrillator on the pub’s outside wall:

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Luckily, it was a false alarm – just too much coffee

The roads were wet and muddy in places, but not too bad, and the day was reasonably warm compared to recent weeks which made for a very pleasant ride through typically quiet Essex lanes. There was only one point where a decision had to be made as to whether to use a bridge over a ford or go for it, the majority deciding to take the safe route whilst others took the plunge.

Lawrence and Graham decide to take the plunge.

After 16 miles – perfect timing – we pulled into the Blue Egg café outside Great Bardfield, which must surely represent the best run caff in East Anglia. They not only serve wonderful coffee and cakes, at good prices, but also cope with sudden onslaughts of customers with great ease and efficiency. (This Editor is not on commission.)

Putting on weight with Blue Egg delicacies.

Ready for the off once again, with Charles now on board too.

Heading through Great Bardfield we had to stop, of course, for a photo call outside Gibraltar Windmill which has been converted into a residence:

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Gibraltar Mill is a three-storey tower mill with a boat-shaped cap. The mill has four double Patent sails carried on a cast-iron windshaft and is winded by an eight-bladed fantail. The tower is 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) to 4 feet (1.22 m) thick at base level. It is 32 feet (9.75 m) high, 20 feet (6.10 m) diameter at base level and 13 feet (3.96 m) diameter at curb level. The mill is 44 feet (13.41 m) high overall. The windshaft carries a wooden Brake Wheel with 90 iron teeth, cast in six segments. The Wallower was an iron mortice gear, with 44 wooden cogs. It was carried on a cast-iron Upright Shaft. The Great Spur Wheel had 88 cogs, and drove two pairs of millstones via Stone Nuts with 18 cogs each.[Now you know!]
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A rainbow of Windmillers outside Gibraltar Mill, Great Bardfield

Skirting Finchingfield and its fine windmill we continued northwards to Howe Street and then back to Ridgewell via Stambourne Green and Birdbrook to a warm welcome and excellent fare at The White Horse, where it was great to be joined by Ric who had cycled over from Harston and Brian who had come by car, making it 14 for lunch.

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Windmillers enjoying a fine lunch in The White Horse Inn

Thanks were given over lunch to Geoff who organised a superb ride and led us around the lanes using the latest handlebar mounted technology.

Needless to say, Graham had cycled to Ridgewell from Ickleton and refused the offer of a lift back, clocking up around 70 miles for the day and adding to his total of several thousand miles this year. Well done, Graham!

Martin

 

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