Today’s ride was meant to be so easy! Maurice and I had decided upon an easy spin along the Flitch Way to the Green Café at Little Canfield. Same route out and back, along the familiar Route 16. No need to take the map. Famous Last Words!
We pedalled off, heading due west into a headwind, but sheltered by the hedgerows along the Flitch Way. All went well until we were approaching Great Dunmow, where the route goes off the old railway line, to meander underneath the A120, where there are route improvements. We came across huge concrete barriers, about a meter high, completely obstructing the route, with a Council Byway Notice, stating the route was diverted via Braintree Road and The Street. No map on the diversion notice, just small print. We wondered about lifting the bikes over the barriers, but decided not to. Big mistake. The diversion was a shambles. We pedalled up the stony path, to a T-junction. No diversion directions, but another Council Byway notice, too small to read – sellotapedto a byway post, stating, I think, that there was a diversion. Totally inadequate. We had no map, so guessed it was a right turn. We followed the Byway sign as it was a Byway diversion. (Wrong! We should have followed the footpath sign). At the next T- junction, again no signage, so we turned left and this took us out on the road that leads south to Felsted. We had nearly done a complete circle! And an extra 3 miles.
We turned left instead, over the A120, and turned left down the B1417 (old A120) towards Dunmow. We turned right to ride up into Dunmow, to find the road closed because of a St Clare Hospice event/fund raising day. The roads were congested with traffic trying to find parking for this event, and we rode up to Church End, where the traffic got even worse as we approached the car park, as cars were tailed back in both directions. We picked our way through the town centre, and picked up Route 16 again.
It was quiet as we pedalled west along Route 16, and I was parched, looking forward to tea at the Green Café. Which was closed! According to an allotmenteer, they could not get enough volunteers to run it. I suggested maybe they could update their website as I’d checked it before leaving, and it said they were open from early May (but not this year!). So Maurice and I pedalled back to Dunmow (where the traffic was even worse) seeking tea and toast.
I could not face fighting traffic up the old A120 to go home, so we decided to chance our luck and try Route 16 back to the diversion site. We headed south from Dunmow, and lifted our bikes over the concrete blocks obstructing the entrance to the Flitch Way. We crossed the River Chelmer, and along this part the surface has been improved. We rode under the A120 and pedalled up to the concrete blocks that had obstructed us on our outward journey. Maurice and I lifted our bikes over these concrete blocks and continued on our way home. What puzzles me is that I cannot work out why Route 16 is obstructed by these concrete blocks, as the route has been considerably improved and is passable. The whole point of having traffic-free cycle routes is to encourage people to ride their bikes. Which now appear to be obstructed for an unknown reason, with diversions that are inadequately signed. The council seem to be making a really good job of putting people off using their cycle routes!
However it was still a good 27 mile bike ride, on a reasonable day, in good company. Moaning Minnie will now be quiet!