Friday dawned bright and cold. 10 Easy Riders turned up outside the Con Club, and pedalled off south along London Road. The Rodings are the largest group of villages in the UK to bear the same name – 8 in total. (I think there are 7 Hatfields)
We turned right at Youngs End, opposite the Green Dragon. Somewhere along this next road, Paul managed our first puncture of the day – on the rear wheel! Adrian and Brian proved adept at making a team of 3 and getting Paul back on the road again, to catch up with the rest of us, waiting at the staggered junction further on. We rode down to Littley Green picking up Roger on our way and turned right, freewheeling down the hill to Hartford End, to go left onto the road from Felsted.
At the junction of this B1417, and the B1008, there is a house with a lovely row of pleached trees on the boundary. Pleaching is where trees have a clear main stem, and then the branches are trained onto a framework of canes, usually to make a high level visual barrier along a boundary. Pleached trees are often lime (which drops sticky honeydew) or hornbeam. I’ve been watching this row of trees for a few years now, and they are now robust trees which are a pleasure to look at. One day I’ll pluck up the courage to ring the gate intercom, just to tell them how much pleasure I get from looking at their trees, every time I cycle past.
We turned left from the B1008, skirted the north side of Pleshey and rode through Stagden Cross and to Aythrop Roding. In 1248 the Domesday Book records a man called Aitrop held the local manor, which was owned by the Abbess of Barking. Next came Leaden Roding on a junction. According to the Dictionary of British Place Names, Leaden Roding gets its name from the fact that the parish church had a lead roof, again dating from 1248. I recognised this junction, and thought “oh good, 21 miles, nearly at Cammas Hall. I really need my lunch soon”. Famous last words (or thoughts!) – because we did not turn right towards Cammas Hall!
We turned south towards Margaret Roding. This gets its name from the parish church, which was dedicated to St Margaret from at least 1245. We went through the Four Wantz (common name in Essex and Kent, for a four way junction) and turned onto one of Mick’s beloved tracks, at the end of which mercifully we stopped for a refreshment break and I gobbled my energy bar.
We rode some lovely quiet roads to reach Berners Roding. Berners Roding appears to have been named after Juliana Berners, a Benedictine Nun, Prioress of St Mary of Sopwell, who was born in the parish. Next we reached Beauchamp Roding, which has been known under this name from 1238, something to do with the de Beauchamp family who occupied a manor owned by the Abbess of Barking (the most powerful abbey in Britain in its day). We then headed north to White Roding, just north of the A1060. White Roding is another place name dating from 1238, notable for the whiteness of the walls of the freshly built parish church, when new. This road led us our lunchtime destination of Cammas Hall fruit farm – which was absolutely over-run with half term children and adults, with huge queues for the pumpkins and the tea room. 28 miles.
Once all of us had devoured our lunch, we set off again. Although there was beautifully bright sunshine, it was noticeably colder, and the wind was picking up. About 6 of us reached the first junction and realised only half our group were there! It turned out Paul had had another rear wheel puncture while leaving the Cammas Hall fruit farm! Perhaps his tyres were too slick? We skirted Hatfield Broad Oak, turning right to Taverners Green and Hatfield Regis Grange. A grange was a farm that supported a monastery or convent.
We turned right to pick up Route 50 which took us to High Roding. This name has the earliest derivation, coming from followers of a person called Hroth, in about 1224. There were a couple of showers, the second of which included hail – definitely an indicator of cold north winds. We left Route 50 to head north east, crossing the B1008 at Onslow Green, and toiled up the hill into Felstead. At Watch House Green we continued north to take the bridge over the A120, then turned right into Rayne. Here we split, with some of us taking the steady gradient down the Flitch Way, with the more hardy souls taking the undulating Rayne Road into Braintree. Another great bike ride. I so enjoy biking with my mates.
48 miles, 4 hours 18 minutes pedalling time.