13 December. Mud, mud, glorious mud, nothing quite like it. 18 miles.

No one in their right mind would attempt to cycle down the Southern end of Violet’s Lane between Brent Pelham and Furneux Pelham, even when it is open, although there was a photo of Graham being ankle deep in water in the same vicinity recently, albeit on his mountain bike. Claimed to be the longest ford in the UK (1km) it is thick with mud even when dry, which is not very often as it is actually the course of the River Ash.

Starting from The Black Horse in Brent Pelham for a change, seven Windmillers comprising Maurice, Andrew, Sandra, Nick, Graham, Simon and Martin set off at noon in a clockwise direction to experience copious amounts of winter mud and filthy bikes at the end of the ride. But it was a fairly mild, dry day and so we should be thankful for small mercies, says the Rev.

This is where we went:

Simon, Andrew, Maurice, Sandra, Nick and Graham stopping for a breather outside All Saints Church, Rickling – a Grade 1 listed 13th century building constructed almost entirely from flint.

The mud on the narrow lane between Rickling Green and Manuden was so thick in places that a tractor with a Heath Robinson sweeper attached to its front bucket was making hard work of scooping it up as it reversed down the lane. Eventually it gave up and let us pass.

This strange looking machine struggled in the match against Essex Mud, losing 5 – 55.

By the time we got to Manuden, the locals were warning us that we might not get through on the section of road between Maggots End and Furneux Pelham but, as it turned out, there were only a few puddles and so no need to raise legs in the air to traverse floods.

Heading down the steep, bumpy concrete track from Furneux Pelham to Violet’s Lane, the mud at the bottom by the closed road was also thick but passable with care and so we escaped unscathed except for the need to give our bikes a good hosing down.

Nick taking it steady on approaching Violet’s Ford

Back at The Black Horse, those who called in for a refreshing pint reported a quiet atmosphere and nothing to eat and so not quite ticking the Windmillers’ boxes it seems. Having cycled from Ickleton to join the ride, and cycled back again, Graham hopefully found some sustenance elsewhere.

Thanks go as always to our stalwarts Maurice and Andrew for planning and organising the ride.


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