We took advantage of the lovely weather today to try something different. We took our bikes on the ferry service run by Brightlingsea Harbour, hopping on board their foot ferry at the Hythe, and travelling up the River Colne all the way to Brightlingsea. Fuelled by refreshments at The Rosebud in Brightlingsea, and The Pointer in Alresford, a ten mile return journey on the bikes had us back at the Hythe in next to no time.
We boarded the small 12-person ferry on the Hythe, next to the red lightship. The service has to be booked the day before, and the timing is entirely dependent on the tide – more details at the ferry website here. The first part of the journey, past Fingringhoe and Wivenhoe wasn’t new to us, as we walked the Wivenhoe Trail from Hythe to Wivenhoe not long ago. But seeing it from the middle of the river gave a different perspective!
Going through Wivenhoe you pass the enormous tide gates, and the sand and gravel pit, and then the Colne broadens out and there’s a long stretch of beautiful countryside – long low horizons, and lots of sky.
There were canoes, kayak and other boats on the river, both modern all-mod con yachts and older sail boats. The journey took almost an hour, the only noise the chugging of the twin outdoor motors on the ferry.
As Brightlingsea hove into view there was more activity, including Essex Man on his jet skis, with lots of sails on the horizon further out to sea. The colourful beach huts were a welcoming site, and the marina was bustling with boats of all sizes being sailed, and rowed.
Disembarking was simple, and then it was time to cycle back to Colchester. We took a minor detour, heading up to the High Street and cycling along to Hurst Green to make our first trip to The Rosebud Pub. The High Street was unexpected – a wide range of lovely buildings ranging from very old beamed houses, to lovely Victorian houses with white wrought iron balconies. Hurst Green reminded us of the green at Southwold. The Rosebud has a beer garden with a view to die for, and was serving four beers from The Might Oak brewery in Maldon, and Oscar Wilde Mild, Champion Beer of Britain a couple of years ago, was on great form.
Climbing up out of Brightlingsea, there was a left turn and a mile on the B1027 before we turned left onto Wivenhoe Road and cycled through Alresford. It seemed churlish not to stop off at The Pointer, who served up a nice half of Woodforde Wherry.
As you get to Wivenhoe, the road becomes Alresford Road, and there was the option of turning left and cycling into Wivenhoe, but we kept straight on to Wivenhoe Cross, and after half a mile it was a left turn into the University and a drop down Boundary Road to make our way back to the Hythe, a nice 10 mile cycle from Brightlingsea.