Thursday, August 29, 2013

From the water to the sea by bike -- via New England and California

Today was much brighter weather than forecast, and I took the chance for one last long spin in the countryside while Karen was waiting in for a visit from the District Nurse. So after a bit of leafing through maps, I thought I'd take the Roman Road in the direction of Haverhill, then ad lib from there.

Despite wet weather having left some of the local bridleways churned to quagmire by farm vehicles -- so needing to carry my bike for a while on the first couple of miles -- the going on the actual track was never more than "not entirely dry", even in the bits where it is a byway open to motor vehicles in the summer or doubles as a working route for farming.

Wandlebury stage

A most shaded section

Eventually the byway becomes a bridleway, with that stage opening with a deep ditch and a bridge signed as "Pedestrian bridge -- unsafe for horses and livestock" demonstrating that we were far enough out of town for cycling not to have been considered as an option. And then it becomes a footpath, a couple of miles short of Haverhill. There being no reason to go into the town, I looped around, through West Wickham, the Thurlows and Wrattings, then because it was only a few miles further, out to Clare

Clare sign

Town Namepost

where I'd been in June, then back along the A-road (relatively quiet in mid afternoon) to New England

I'm not looking for a new England

New England

where I took the turn to Steeple Bumpstead and Saffron Walden (having to go that far south to avoid the main A11 and A1307, which are not for bicycles. There was a little bit of excitement as the road was closed in Steeple Bumpstead, but there was, fortunately, a pedestrian way past.

Maze at Saffron Walden

Maze at Saffron Walden

Then Saffron Walden to home is terrain I've cycled so many times in the past in several variations.

So now, by virtue of going from home to Clare in a half-day, this summer I have laid a continuous path Grafham Water → home → Clare (via New England) → Needham Market → Woodbridge (via California district of Ipswich) → Southwold (via another California near Wickham Market) -- or all the way from Grafhan Water west of home to the sea and back in what would be five days easy going by bike.

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