This is a 15mile cycle route out through the barracks south of Colchester, past Friday Woods, and looping round through Fingrinhoe, and back into town via Old Heath Road.
It’s a truncated version of a 26 mile route that went further out to Tiptree, Tolleshunt D’arcy, Peldon that I put up last year (link), and less than an hour if you go at a reasonable pace on the roads, an hour if you are more sedate, and anything up to 2hrs if you take time to stop and do some sightseeing. As you will see below, there are lots of places to stop and admire the view!
Here’s a quick overview picture of the route to get you orientated, and there’s a Google Pedometer map here
The route starts at Colchester Town Station, and you head south down Mersea Road, not the most beautiful introduction to Colchester. If after 100m you’re a bit thirsty 😉 The Odd One Out is a jewel if you’re after an untouched real ale pub.
Up through the short incline the first set of traffic lights, at which you go straight on. There used to be an enormous army barracks to the left, and it’s now mostly new housing, with a few of the barrack buildings being kept. There’s a turning left into the new housing, but you want to keep away from that left hand cycle land and keep to the right of the road as as the second set of lights in quick succession you want to turn right.
Once right onto Berechurch Road follow the road for a mile and half or so. After half a mile once you get to new housing on your left there is a new cycle path, which skirts housing and the new barracks and some nicely landscaped open space which, back in the day, used to have sheep grazing on it.
At the top of Berechurch Road carry straight on over the road and down Bounstead Road, and you’re in the country. You’ll find Friday Woods to your left. If you want to drive with your bikes on a rack and park up, the car park there is a good place to start this route. You drop down steeply and climb up steeply to a t-junction. Turn left and follow the road for a couple of miles. There is one bugger of a climb, Oxley Hill, but you can stop at the top as there are some nice views, such as this one..
Carry on and cross over Mersea Road at the junction, and watch out for the view to the left as the road turns to the right at the cricket ground, which looks like this…
At the t-junction turn left and head into Fingringhoe. If you’re short of time you can carry straight on until you get to The Whalebone pub and turn left, but today I turned right down South Green Road. I had planned to go as far as I thought you could go, to the Nature Reserve, and head back. In doing this I got a good range of nice panoramic photos – perfect skies for it, and lovely autumn foliage.
However, instead of the road coming to an end, there’s a nice new single track road that takes you through Fingringoe Gravel Pits. Talk about a change of scenery…!
I followed this round, and turned left at the T-junction onto Furneaux Road to head up to the crossroads on which The Whalebone sits.
There’s a detour on the map to take you down Ferry Road which takes you very close to Wivenhoe – about 100m. Unfortunately there’s no ferry there any more! If you’ve got the time it’s worth the detour and it’s a good opportunity to take some photos.
Dropping down the hill with The Whalebone to your left you can take a right after a while at Rectory Road to drop down into Rowhedge. As you go down the hill, look out for Taylor Road, and take a look at the church. Drop down Regent Street to the High Street, passing a Co-op if you need refreshment, and there is Ye Olde Albion (for real ale) and The Albion (for food and Shepherd Neame). And there are some great views over the river. If you don’t take this detour, you pick up the route at Old Heath Road below.
The route takes you up the hill to meet up with Old Heath Road. As you turn right look out for the metal Tabernacle Church, and head into town. You’ll pass The Recreation Ground on the right, and as you bear right down Military Road you’re passing a part of Colchester that is changing. For many years you had the army barracks on the left and the army church on the right. Now the barracks have been replaced by housing, and the army church on the right is now an Orthodox Church, thankfully saved from potential delapidation.
If you want to stop off and admire the church, the British Grenadier opposite serves some nice Adnams beers, and is a cosy little pub that often has a bicycle or two chained up outside. (Not mine, as I’m in walking distance!)
As you bear down the last bit of Military Road, admire the almshouses on both sides of the road (worth stopping for a closer look).