14 June. Ye olde Clavering Castle ride. 20 miles.

The site of Clavering Castle is reputed to be the oldest in England, according to the description on the information board overlooking the deep moat which would have surrounded it. Windmillers have ridden past the site on countless occasions without noticing it, hidden as it is behind trees and only accessible by a lane leading to the church or by a footpath, but on this ride a stop was made to soak up the history behind it.

Starting from The Red Cow in Chrishall, Maurice, Andrew, Lindsey, Lawrence, Charles, Deborah, Nick, Suzanne and Martin set off on a repeat of last Monday’s ride but in an anti-clockwise direction, taking to gravel tracks at times. This is where we went:

Maurice had warned of gravel tracks and, true to his word, it wasn’t long before we were ascending the lane from Builden End to Lower Langley, passing the Thames / North Sea watershed ditch on the way at the top of the ‘col’. We’re proud of our mountains around these ‘ere parts!

Then it was down to Brent Pelham, Violets Lane (thankfully free of water) and up to Washall Green where a stop was made for a natter as much as anything.

Stopping for a natter at Walshall Green

Not long afterwards it was time to stop and trek up through an unspoiled 1,000 year old meadow (photo above) to view the site of Clavering Castle – all except for Nick and Charles who nobly stayed back like knights of the castle to guard probably 10 grands worth of e-bikes and push-bikes. Thanks chaps!

Clavering Castle’s history, stretching back to pre-Norman conquest times. The castle had a sophisticated water management system which must have been the envy of surrounding landowners. There are no visible remains but there is still much to uncover.
Knights of the modern era – Andrew de Rusack and Lawrence de Vere Wragg – with Maurice the Conqueror looking on.

Continuing northwards via Arkesden on this warm summer’s evening, Maurice treated us to a ride up hill bastardo to Littlebury Green before taking to the gravel again through Elmdon woods and again through Chrishall woods before coming to rest back at The Red Cow, where he very kindly bought a round of drinks. Thanks Maurice! Somewhere along the route Nick left to return home to Meesden and Lawrence likewise to Fowlmere to get back in time for reading bedtime stories to his grand children. If we ask him nicely he might read us one too.

The Monday Pimp my Fish van was not in evidence but, instead, a French van selling delicious pulled pork, chips and the best coleslaw outside of Alsace kept the Woodheads fully nourished for two days.

Thanks again to Maurice for planning the route, Andrew for organising us and Deborah for sharing more photos of her student days in Leeds with the current leader of the Labour Party. Parties in Headingly have probably never been the same since.


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