Colchester Cycling UK

Hadleigh Ride Report

November 17, 2013

I arrived at Colchester Leisure World to find a healthy number of riders turned out, and to see us off, our faithful Treasurer, Emily. Twelve set off along Sportsway to dice it with the Sunday morning traffic at Essex Hall Roundabout and up Bergholt Road. Sadly by the double mini-roundabouts Robert decided that was enough of a ride for him and turned back.

Undeterred and regrouped after the short climb, the rest carried on through West Bergholt, turning right to Welshwood Park where at the crossroads we turned into Coach Road, which is still in bad shape. On to Langham we went, crossing the A12 and heading toward Dedham along Birchwood Road. We had a little time to spare so rather than turn left at the end, we turned right, away from Dedham toward Ardleigh.

We then turned into Hunters Chase past the resting Alpacas (on left opposite footpath), to connect with Coggeshall Road, where at the end we turned right along Long Road East then hanging a left down Jupes Hill/Manningtree Road. Approaching Brook St and several heaps of sugar beet by the side of the road drew Steve’s attention, prompting Chris to note there isn’t actually a lot of sugar in sugar beet!

We cycled through Dedham playing field, via Southfields/The Drift, which I would regret, as since my last visit to Dedham, the compacted path through the park is now loose shingle. I believe a flint from this punctured my rear tyre, as it was flat by the time I rode over the kerb at the Art & Craft Centre… so my elevenses was taken up by the task of replacing the pierced inner tube, but without getting filthy hands, thanks to Alison kindly giving me her latex gloves.

Malcolm replacing inner tube

My only venture inside was to go to the toilet, but I was not alone outside as Duan and Steve kept me company. Clive, John, and Alison would leave us here, fearing a return home from Hadleigh in darkness, but our numbers were unchanged as awaiting our arrival in Dedham were Sarah, Les and Gill from Tiptree.

We left Dedham along the resurfaced Mill Road, over the river Stour, out of Essex and into Suffolk. In Stratford we took the first right toward Higham where Les and Gill on their tandem trike sadly suffered a rear puncture.

The group

It seems to be more straight forward on a trike (the rear at least) as there is no need for any adjustment to the axle in order to remove the tyre and inner tube.

Les and Gil

After a short interlude in which time an old dog limped over from the adjacent garden to see what all the excitement was about, we were off again!

Into Higham and the climb up to Sandpits Lane, and left onto the B1070 briefly, before turning off through Great Wenham. This was an uneventful but fast section, as Steve and I upped the pace considerably to the next junction, with Mike and the other Steve chasing us down! This was as far east we would go, before heading briefly north along Saxon Lane and west toward Hadleigh through sleepy Chattisham.

We had the option of the Hadleigh Railway Walk (a section of Sustrans National Cycle Network), but we instead chose Clay Lane, which skirts Raydon Great Wood, arriving at The George at about half past one. Des, the two Steves, and I lunched outside on food-from-home, while the others went inside for traditional Sunday roast. The front bar was deceptively quiet, as the restaurant at the rear was packed! As such there was a little wait for the food, which was apparently very nice, although Pam was a little disappointed with the ale!

Over lunch the weather changed from being dry and mild to drizzly and chilly. Hats and extra layers came out, particularly in Chris’ case, with Les commenting that he had seen Arctic explorers wear less! We did a little loop from the car park of The George back to the High Street to take Duke Street out of Hadleigh to Lower Layham and onto Lower Raydon, where Les, Gill, and Sarah headed their own way home. The rest of us climbed up through Brett Vale golf course, to retrace a short section from the morning.

In Higham I questioned whether we should go directly home and the overwhelming response was yes! The most direct route being through Stratford, up Gun Hill and through Boxted. We split along Boxted straight, some turning off toward Severalls Lane while the others (myself included) continued into town past Colchester United’s Community Stadium.

I hadn’t been out with Colchester CTC for sometime and it was encouraging to see the group is still growing in numbers — there were a few new faces to me.

Until next time, ride safe!

By Malcolm Mitchell