Cycle route : Colchester, Fordham, Mount Bures, Chappel, Coggeshall, Tiptree, Layer.

I’ve posted a couple of my regular cycle routes already, one to the N and NE, covering Dedham and Manningtree (click here), and one to the S, covering Tiptree, Tolleshunt, Gt. Wigborough, and Peldon (click here).

A slightly longer route is this one to the NW and W, covering Fordham, Mount Bures, Chappel, Coggeshall and coming back into Colchester on the route I come out of for the S route. My cunning plan is to establish routes covering all points N,S, E and W, and to join them up to create an uber Colchester Orbital Route.

As before I’ve created a Gmaps Pedometer route, which you can refer to http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=3925448, and there’s a thumbnail below, to give you a quick overview. It’s 35 miles, and there’s plenty of hills. The intention is to get in some mileage at a reasonable speed whilst staying off the busy main roads.

I’ve started you off at the Colchester Town railway station on St. Botolphs. The easiest route is around the roundabout and onto the dual-carriageway Southway to get onto Lexden Road, but if you’re a bit wary of that the map guides you along St. John’s Street to get onto Lexden Road – go across the pelican crossing outside The Hospital Arms (purveyor of fine Adnams ales).

Leafy Lexden Road is wide and has cycle lanes. The road dips and then climbs up past the church, a couple of pubs, with Hillyfields to the right. When you come to the top of the hill, straight on at the roundabout and be ready to move over to the right hand lane to turn into Halstead Road. You go to the end of this road, crossing over the A12, and then take a right and follow the road to the left as you head down Chitt’s Hill. You’ll go over the railway lines, then drop down the hill. Watch out for Argents Lane at the bottom of the hill before the small bridge.

Turn left up Argents Lane, and you’ll find yourself climbing quite steeply for a little while. It evens out after a while, with a village green to the left (and a pub, if you’re already gasping). Carrying straight on, and at the t-junction turn right onto Fiddler’s Hill. And, you guessed it, it’s a hill. And it’s a biggie. This isn’t a route for people who don’t like to get into a low gear and strain uphill!

You go up Fiddler’s Hill and then along Fordham Road for about three miles until you come to the top of the road, and at the t-junction, turn left. It’s a busier road than most of the route, and it’s downhill for a couple of miles. Ignore a couple of lefts and wait for the signposted junction where you turn left at the sign for Mt. Bures and the brown Railway Museum sign.

Strain up the hill to Mt. Bures, across the railway lines, and you’ve got some nice views for a couple of miles. As you start descending you’ll pass the railway museum and Chappel railway station to the left. At the bottom of the road, at the t-junction, look to the left and admire the height of the railway viaduct. Then ponder that you’re about to climb up to the level of the railway line at the top. There is a general stores opposite, and you may wish to refuel. Cross the road, bearing fractionally to the right to get onto The Street, engage a low gear, and start to climb.

As you enter Great Tey, keep an eye out for the church. It’s not difficult to miss.

Turn right onto The Street

Turn right onto The Street, so that the church is on your left, and watch out for the nice row of houses to the right, with a little sign commemorating one Reuben Hunt, a wealthy family linked to Earls Colne over several generations.

Reuben Hunt

Reuben Hunt

At a junction down the road take the left turn signposted to Coggeshall. After a mile and bit, you’ll take the first proper turn to the right, signposted to Coggeshall, and follow that lane for a mile or so. At the end of that lane, watch out as the lane ends at a t-junction, but the road markings are very faded. There were signs that said Coggeshall to the left, and Earls Colne to the right, but they appear to have gone. You do in fact want to turn right – it’s a minor detour but gets you across the A120 much more easily. You’ll go past a couple of Motability garages, and a Montessori school, and come to another t-junction.

Turn left there, and you’ll pass Marks Hall Estate (subject of a previous post) to the right. You’ll quickly come to the A120. It’s a fast dual-carriageway, but the road markings are clear and it’s quite easy to get across if you pay attention. The main risk is traffic from the left who are wanting to cross the road and come up the road you’re on.

You’ll drop down into Coggeshall, and at the bottom of the road, a roundabout points you to the right for the town centre. If you’re visiting Essex and won’t be back for a while, take a detour into the village. Otherwise turn left.

At the end of that road, turn left and then immediately right onto the road for Feering. You’ve got a couple of miles on this road. Watch out for the turn that only has enough width for one car! You’ll go through the village, under the railway line, and come to a t-junction.

Turn right and after a hundred yards or so, turn left, towards Tiptree. You’ll go through Inworth, and strain up a hill past the Perryvale Garden Centre (also subject of a previous post). As you get into Tiptree you come to the B1022, the Colchester/Maldon road. Turn right at the mini roundabout, and then immediately left at the adjacent one to get into Tiptree.

There are lots of shops, but if it’s a Sunday most will be closed. Tesco’s will be open if you’re in need of refreshment.

Past Tesco’s, look out for Station Road on the right, as you’ll be turning left at that point, onto Chapel Road.

(If you’re feeling up for it, you can carry straight on, going via Tolleshunt, Peldon and Fingringhoe : pick up the route halfway through this previous blog).

If you have decided to stay with this route you’ll go down Chapel Road, then up it, and after a climb look out for the crossroads at which you will turn right for Layer Marney. Follow that road, bearing left to head up into Layer Marney (which isn’t very big!). At a t-junction you can turn right to look at Layer Marney Towers, or turn left to go to the crossroads at which you’ll turn right.

You’ll drop down Winters Road, and climb up Shatters Road, into Layer Breton. At the t-junction turn left, admiring the church on your right, and turn right as you approach the pub. This is the back route to Layer de la Haye, and follow the road for a couple of miles, down and up, and then bearing right. At the crossroads you go straight on, passing a pub and then a general stores on the right (or not, if you’re after refreshment).

Follow the road for a couple of miles, keeping an eye open for the left turn down a hill as the road turns right. It’s a steep hill! At the bottom is a sharp left over a stream, and then it’s up hill. And by this point, it’s going to hurt!

You’ll finally come to another junction (a pub to the left). Straight ahead though, and you’re on Berechurch Road, on tarmac which at the time of writing (and for several years) has been a disgrace. You could take the wide cycle track on the right behind the hedges.

You’re now getting into town, and after the traffic lights, you’ll come to a t-junction at Mersea Road. Turn left and the road drops you down to St. Botolph’s Roundabout. Keep to the left and go round the roundabout in the left lane to get into the railway station.