This gentle ride starts out at Cudmore Grove Country Park on East Mersea, which offers a big sandy beach and a huge expanse of grassland. Word of warning : you do have to pay to park, and hopefully the toilets are in better condition that when we visited for this ride.
But it’s a good base to start a lovely 12-mile, almost virtually flat, cycle ride that takes you all the way into West Mersea, with plenty of options for refreshment stops. I’ve set up a Google Pedometer map as before, here’s an overview pic of the route, and click on the image to load the full version
The route takes you back out from Cudmore Grove heading west on East Road, the road that you will have driven up to get to Cudmore Grove. It’s generally quite quiet – but don’t be intimidated and hug the verge, cycle assertively and make it clear that cars are going to have to overtake you properly, not squeeze past you and force ou into the kerb.
You’ll pass the Dog and Pheasant pub on your right (never been in there), and there are two options for you to the left. First up you could turn down Church Lane to check out the church and the lanes around there (there aren’t many of them), before heading back onto East Road. And a little bit later you could exercise an option to turn left (it’s clearly signposted) and head down to the Mersea Vineyard/Brewery. I’d recommend you do – it’s not far (you do have to double back though) and there’s a shop and a cafe there open a lot of the time. (My recommendation would be to get a couple of bottles of their excellent beer).
Further along is Chapman’s Lane, which is clearly signposted to the left as being to West Mersea, and head down it, bearing right onto East Road again. You’ll pass the Fox Inn, a good place for refreshments if you need them just 3 miles into the ride!
Watch out for Seaview Avenue to the left, and turn left down it. It’s an avenue with, erm, a sea view. At the bottom of the avenue it’s worth dismounting and admiring the beach and the beach huts to the left. The Seaview Cafe is also there, for refreshments and replenishing supplies. We found that the water we were carrying was in a bottle that hadn’t been rinsed out after being washed up – a Fairy Liquid aftertaste on the water was not nice!
Follow Victoria Esplanade, then turn right up Broomhills Road before turning left onto Prince Albert road and straight across onto Yorick Road. At the t-junction turn left. You’ll see the church to your left (behind which is the Mersea Museum), and a couple of cafe’s on the right (more of these later).
Drop down onto Coast Road, and watch out for the great view. You may want to stop for a moment (get the cameras out) to soak it up.
As you drop down Coast Road, watch out for The Victory Inn to your right, which serves decent beer and food. The Oyster Bar over the road gets very, very busy, and the car park is always heaving, so you can be a bit smug an park the bikes up on the railings and pop in.
Follow the road further up (you may want to be pushing your bikes now if you’re not familiar with the island and want to soak up the atmosphere). There’s the famous Company Shed seafood bar further up, and go as far as The Lane and wander up it and admire the old cottages.
And there’s also The Coast Inn, with a sun-drenched patio (hopefully) overlooking the estuary. They may also have Mersea Brewery beers on offer.
So that was the six miles from East Mersea to West Mersea, and whilst you can loop around West Mersea, it’s nicer to head back on the same route. We stopped off at The Art Cafe for a very nice cup of tea and cake – not that we wanted to, you understand, but purely in the line of researching this article. There’s seating outside if you want to go alfresco, and it’s very nicely presented inside, with lots of art – paintings and ceramics in particular – to look at and to buy.
Instead of following the route direct back to Cudmore Grove, from The Art Cafe you can head up The High Street to explore the town’s shops before turning right on Upland Road to head back along East Road.
So, a gentle 12mile round trip, lots of fresh air, lots of places to stop off at. What’s not to like!