On Saturday night I was looking at the Cammas Hall fruit farm website, wondering whether the raspberries were in season after the cold, late spring. As it turns out, the raspberries are about 2 weeks late commencing their fruiting and there are limited supplies as yet. However, the fruit farm - and its tea shop - open at 9am for early fruit pickers. That decided me upon a destination for a Sunday bike ride.
I put out the call for fellow riders for a 7am, early start, the following day, and Diane and Adrian responded. As it turned out, Adrian felt somewhat ill and wan, and did not ride. But at 7am, Diane and I met up and set off. We are both naturally ‘a lighter shade of pale’, so did not want to spend too much time in bright sunshine and heat. We pedalled off down the Flitch Way. Half way to Rayne, I realised I had put on my sun visor … but not my helmet! A quick phone call to Jim, led to him driving to Rayne station with my crash hat. Suitably attired, Diane and I went through Bartholomew Green, down to Felsted and turned left down Mill Lane. We crossed the B1008 at Onslow Green. We saw our first buzzard along here, about 8am, flying from one fence to another, across the road in front of us. We pedalled on to Aythorpe Roding, crossing the B184. We saw another bird of prey here, sort of brownish, and almost directly overhead, looking much bigger than the first. Once again we assume it was a buzzard.
To get to Cammas Hall from Aythorpe Roding, we had to ride around 3 sides of a square. Unfortunately we missed the last right turning to cycle there directly, because we were following the strawberry shaped fruit farm signs, which take you the long way round. I think the reason why the road signs take you the long way round, is because the road we intended to take, has several sharp right angled bends, which are not suitable for larger farm lorries, and is narrow, so not suitable for a lot of two-way traffic. Next time I’d look out the correct route more carefully because we spent too long on the A1060 and it added about 2 miles to our route.
On arriving at Cammas Hall at 9.15am Diane and I were delighted to realise we’d done 21 miles at 12mph! Very fast for us - on a largely flat route with a cool tailwind. We met Jim who had driven out to join us for a cup of tea and a bun. We watched people picking new season cherries - on the website Cammas Hall had said their cherries were in season, but were in very limited supply and would be available this weekend only.
As Diane and I both flag in the heat, we only stopped for half an hour. We replenished our water supplies and leapt back on the bikes. Because we did not want to go back on the A1060, we headed north out of Cammas Hall, to Great Canfield. We found a different point to cross the B184 and picked up Cycle Route 50. We noticed the horse chestnut trees appeared to have some disease affecting their leaves with unsightly brown blotches. We went through High Easter, Pleshey, and Howe Street. It was getting hot now, and we both started to feel our legs tiring. We headed due north to Willows Green and Bartholomew Green. Each of us pedalled stoically over the bridge over A120, and thankfully entered the shade of the Flitch Way back to home.
We were home by midday. Once home (with my bike in the sun), the computer registered 31 degrees C. We totalled 43 miles, averaging 11.5 mph (burning 2,400 calories!). Incredibly fast for us!
For anyone wanting to increase their mileage, we’d recommend this as a good ride to test extending ride distance. It’s relatively flat, and is almost entirely on very quiet, unclassified roads. Our route back home was on Route 50, so you can reasonably expect other road users to be familiar with bikes. There is plenty of bike parking at Cammas Hall, although the cyclists seating is in full sun. If you have a bike lock, you can leave your bikes and sit in the ‘tea room’ which is a marquee. Great ride. And next week I might even go to pick some raspberries. What not to like!