Cycling the North Essex & Suffolk countryside

Having been a very keen cyclist now for around four years, the purchase of a new bike meant of course I had to explore some new roads and take the bike out for a spin.

I had recently visited Greenstead Farm with my family, and enjoyed the fabulous Sunday lunch at the Greenstead Cafe. At the time I noticed a number of cyclists at the farm, and probably because the abundance of cakes on offer it was too attractive an offer to miss. The farm was certainly cycle friendly, and the gardens provided a secure area for bike storage, with many of the cyclists enjoying the summer sun on the garden terrace.

So a new bike and a new venue for that all traditional coffee and cake stop was too much of an attractive proposition. I headed out from my house in Tendring travelling towards Manningtree which is a regular route of mine. At Mistley Towers I headed towards Manningtree town centre with some of the beautiful views of the estuary on offer.

After crossing the river at Manningtree Station I took the East Bergholt route through to Holton St Mary which was a quaint and very quiet village on the way to Sudbury. I then veered off towards Leavenheath enjoying some of the more hilly terrain around Stoke by Nayland and Bures which forms part of the route for one of the most popular local organised sportive tours, 'the Castle Bike Ride'.

Every time I head into North Essex I tend to veer off course and ignore the Garmin just to explore some different roads and today was no exception. The Giant Propel was living up to all expectations and despite its aero qualities, the 22 speed offered by Shimano was making light of some testing hills.

After Bures, I headed South West towards Colne Engane and soon arrived at Greenstead Green. The forty odd mile trip was a joy on the new bike and in perfect English sunshine.

Being able to store the bike safely was a big bonus. A few years back while enjoying a cafe stop in Tendring I nearly lost a bike. Fortunately, an observant person noticed a guy lifting the bike over a barrier, and had also seen me draw up a few minutes earlier. He chased the thief off very quickly as I was exiting the cafe. To date, I still haven't lost a bike, and today was certainly going to be no exception being slightly paranoid with my new shiny investment.

The atmosphere at Greenstead was great. Families enjoying the farm, and relaxing in the gardens, children playing on the trampoline and climbing frames and a number of cyclists talking about their latest sportive endeavours.

The coffee and cake on offer was fabulous.  A huge selection of locally produced cakes, and of course I had to try a couple of varieties. After spending a good hour at Greenstead Farm it was time to head back. I decided to make some adjustments to my route home, and found some wonderful countryside vistas along the way heading towards Great Horkesley and on to Ardleigh. I clocked up 73 miles in total, and a fabulous route to test the new bike and get in that all important midsummer Sunday ride.

If you are in the area or regularly explore the North Essex and Suffolk countryside I thoroughly recommend setting your Garmin route to include Greenstead Farm - very welcoming, and probably the best choice of cake in area.

A big thank you to Mark who contributed this article


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