It was a perfect day for escaping the urban scene, by heading off to the tranquil settings for our three stops for today. The first of these was the café next to the marina at Roydon. It was a warm, sunny day, so I opted for the shade provided on the disused railway line that is the Cole Green Way. The only hazard along there was the guy running ahead of us wearing headphones, and no amount of shouting seemed to be getting through to his ears. Safely past him, we made for Hartham Common and the cycle path along the River Lea – the top dressing in the central section, either side of the A10 flyover, is now completely eroded away and it’s really only fit for mountain bikes.
We are a pretty tolerant lot generally, but we were being shaken to bits and this cycle path is getting beyond a joke. Cycling UK is pushing the Space for Cycling campaign, so you can help by writing to Councillor David Andrews, Ware North at Hertfordshire County Council and asking if he can assist in any way.
After a rather scary slope down from the Ware road bridge, the towpath was actually quite smooth and we followed this as far as Stanstead Abbotts. It was now a short stretch on tarmac to the secluded marina, tucked away near the village of Roydon. Neil and Tracey loved the relaxed atmosphere so much they didn’t want to leave, so we left them there. We cycled off, passing Ray Winstone’s favourite pub, and found a quiet route through Harlow on NCR 1 and out to the Essex lanes.
What a pleasant county Essex is for cycling. Many lanes had been resurfaced recently and looking back I don’t recall seeing a single pothole between Harlow and Epping Forest. It just shows that by contrast Hertfordshire really needs to get its act together.
At the isolated pub in Tawney Common we saw the usual veteran motorcycles had arrived, including a pre-war BSA in fine condition and a wartime despatch bike.
It wasn’t far to tea at Upshire Church. This time I arrived in time to grab a piece of their fantastic homemade strawberry gateau. That was worth cycling up Sixteen String Jack hill for. Reluctantly, we headed for home to complete the 62-mile circuit.