Colchester Cycling UK

Wherstead Ride Report

September 13, 2015

Sixteen left Colchester Leisure World, including one newish member — Massimo (he rode with us to elevenses once in August) — and one returning — Steve (his first ride with us after recovering from a knee operation).

To elevenses at Mistley Place Park we took an indirect route through Langham, over the A12 and into Dedham, where at Lamb Corner we saw signs warning of runners (it was The Dedham Run), though didn’t see any; past the llamas of Hunters Chase, across the A137, and through Little Bromley we went.

Two groups of eight left Mistley: we for lunch in Wherstead, and the others’ (them and they) bound for their homes. We turned left, past Mistley Towers, along the waterfront and Manningtree High Street, up Colchester Road, and through a little estate, emerging at the main road just as the others’ biked past. We followed them past Cox’s Hill, and turned onto Mill Hill as did they, and bade them farewell at the top, as we turned into Manningtree Road to descend into Dedham, while they continued along that Load Road. In the village centre we saw some runners, but alas, by now they were walkers!

Aside from Chris’s pump coming adrift from his bike frame and falling to the road, the miles through Stratford, Higham, and Great Wenham were unnoteworthy.

First spots of rain were felt in Copdock, and by Belstead, it was definitely drizzling. Steve noted the distance on a road sign to Wherstead being “only a mile” but I was quick to state it would undoubtedly be farther… and so it proved to be!

From Belstead we crossed the A137 again, into Valley Lane to reach a bridleway, where Chris let out a “hiss” after Steve went over some thorns. It was actually Massimo’s rear tyre however that would be deflated no more than a mile away, and if that to our lunch stop at Suffolk Food Hall. With Vic and Steve’s help Massimo set about changing the tube, and I ate my lunch.

Steve and Massimo

Once at our destination, the excitement didn’t stop there, for I had noticed a footpath sign on the way in that reminded me of an expedition for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award that took me over the Orwell Bridge by foot. I haven't much of a head for heights, but with the high retaining wall and Steve’s company, I was quite comfortable up there. Of more concern was the debris strewn on the footpath, and the low and seemingly slight barrier between it and the dual carriageway. What a view though!

Suffolk Food Hall from Orwell Bridge
The River Orwell from Orwell Bridge
Orwell Bridge

It was still raining when we mounted our steeds to leave, but it wasn’t the weather that hindered us, it was the rear tyre of Massimo’s bike. We didn’t even reach the road!

The group

When we did get going again, there was a steady stream of traffic in both directions; Chris saw his chance and went, the rest followed some minutes later, back the way we came, to the A137. From there I led from the back, riding as I was, without mudguards.

The way back to Colchester was the most direct leg: through Tattingstone to Bentley — stopping in East End to take off waterproofs, as by then the rain had stopped and it was getting quite warm — through Brantham along the A137 to Lawford, up Cox’s Hill, and right at the top. Gillian went straight on here, though I am unsure which way Chris or Steve went! Those that remained turned left then right, toward Green Island Gardens. Bob turned off Bromley Road headed for Wivenhoe via Crockleford Heath, so that the group of eight was wittled down to four before Colchester, where three of us peeled off for our homes, leaving Sarah alone to ride on to hers in Kelvedon.

By Malcolm Mitchell