This is a regular route of ours – 25 miles from central Colchester, with most of it on quiet country roads and lanes, with lots of places to stop off and refuel.
We’ve put it on the excellent Gmaps Pedometer map site – click here to have it open in a new window (it has the option to download a GPX file). And below is a quick overview of the 25mile route.
The starting point for the ride is Colchester Town station. There are a couple of car parks nearby if you’re heading in by car with the bike on a rack. As you leave the station turn right, push the bike past the pub, barbers, Chinese takeway, and at the noodle shop cross at the pedestrian crossing onto St John’s Street. Head up there, the bingo hall on the left and an Indian restaurant on the right (which serves very good food, albeit in a less than ideal location).
Straight ahead at the lights, butchers on the left, pub on the right, and climb up a little incline with The Playhouse pub on the left. Past the Playhouse on the left, a JD Wetherspoons pub which is a converted theatre. Worthwhile poking your head into the pub to take a look at how they’ve handled the transformation, and check the upper circle!
At the top of the incline there are lights at which you’re going to turn right onto Head Street. Turn right and keep to the left and you’ll see the new multi-screen Odeon on the left. Through the pedestrian crossing and you’ll come to some more lights. Keep to the left as instead of turning right onto the High Street you’re going to drop down North Hill.
It’s a steep drop, and if you’re lucky with the lights you can whizz straight across through the bus/bike lane, over the mini-roundabout and over the bridge (lovely cottages to the right over the bridge). Straight on to the big Prince Albert roundabout, and straight over. Pass the Norfolk pub (Greene King) on your left and you’ll come to a big roundabout as you approach Colchester North Station. Ahead and bear right, keeping to the left as you go under the bridge and take the left turn at the lights as you get out from under the bridge, and take the third turning (BR first turning, Bergholt Road the second) and keep to the left and head up the hill.
(If you’re getting off at Colchester North station, cycle down the road from the main entrance and at the lights go straight ahead (in the left lane, and take the left turning after the next set of lights)
If you’re feeling thirsty already, park up in the back car park of The Bricklayers pub. Even if you’re not thirsty but like your beer, park up and sample some top quality beer. It’s an Adnams pub, so you’ll get a full range of their beers, as well as other beers from other breweries, curated by landlord Fred.
Heading up Mile End Road is a bit of a climb, and once you get to the top of the hill you will pass a church to your right, through traffic lights and onto the mini-roundabout. Take the second main turning. You’re approaching a bridge over the A12, but just before you get to it, take the time to admire the architectural beauty of Colchester United’s new stadium.
You’re then going to have a nice straight run along Straight Road to Boxted. It’s called Straight Road because it is very straight! Once in Boxted you keep going on Dedham Road, a narrowish road with the odd olde worlde building. After a few miles you reach a t-junction, and you bear left and down. After a hundred or so yards you’ll be needing to move to the right in anticipation of a right turn as you cross over the A12.
You will climb a little, and at the top of the climb take a moment to pull up beside the bench and take in your first view of Dedham vale. It could look something like this:
At the next t-junction turn left, and head into Dedham. If you’re after refreshments, the cafe in the art centre at the far end of the high street would be our choice, although there is a Tiptree tea shop on the corner opposite The Marlborough Arms.
As you pass through Dedham you will bear right, and watch out for Manningtree Road on the left. Take this and follow it through the open country and up an awkward incline to another t-junction. Turn left and the road drops under the railway viaduct and then climbs up again for another awkward bit of climbing. In Essex terms it’s an Hors Categorie climb.
At the t-junction turn left and drop down, and up again. At this point if you’re wanting to cut out the Manningtree-Mistley loop and head back to Colchester you can turn right onto Bromley Road (pick up the route a couple of paras down!)
Ahead at the roundabout and take the second left, Colchester Road, which drops you down into Manningtree. Quite quickly!
At the bottom of the hill at the t-junction turn right and cycle through Manningtree High Street. As you come out the far end of the High Street you bear left and suddenly you’ve got a great view of the River Stour. Which should look something like :
Follow the road until you come to a right turn at Mistley Towers, and take that turn to climb up another hill.
Straight along Long Road, and straight ahead over the roundabout you took earlier. First left onto Bromley Road. You will follow this road for a couple of miles. Keep you eyes open for a right turn as you leave Little Bromley, and take the right at the next t-junction to follow the road to the left of the church. You’ve got a couple of miles through some very quite lanes, the first stretch being very open – and, if the weather is like it was today, you will get some strong winds blasting your from the side.
It’s time now for a bit of a heads down to head home and pick up some speed, as you carry straight on Bromley Road until you get into the outskirts of Colchester. You will hit the Harwich Road at which you turn left and drop down into town – a couple of small supermarkets on the left if you need supplies. At the bottom of Harwich Road there’s a couple of mini-roundabouts to negotiate as you hit Cowdray Avenue, going straight ahead to crop down to the East Gates railway crossing.
Over the crossing and straight ahead, keeping an eye open ‘Charlie Browns’ buildings on the corner at the mini roundabout, and straight on past The Siege House on the right hand side, which is peppered with holes from musket shots from the Civil War.
Ahead at the mini-roundabout and traffic lights to climb up East Hill. Towards the top take a peek at The Minories, whose cafe is recommended, and the amazing new firstsite (do stop to take a closer look it’s worth it!).
Back onto East Hill and at the lights at the top turn left – admiring Colchester Castle to your right. Turn left and drop down Queen Street, with lots of shops along it to refuel, and at the bottom of which you will find Colchester North Station, from where we started.
(If you started from Colchester North station, when you get to Colchester Castle, get of the bike and push it through the park to admire the castle, walk down to the lower castle part and there are some gates on the left. Cycle down Northgate street and turn right onto the bottom of North Hill, which is the steep drop mentioned up at the top of the page, and follow the instructions to Colchester North).