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13 June: Thornwood Common to Writtle

posted 14 Jun 2010, 12:10 by South Herts   [ updated 22 Dec 2010, 01:31 ]
Jon writes: Judy & I cycled the 17 miles to Thornwood Common, where we found Tracey and Peter and headed off towards North Weald airfield along a minor road that is only shown on recent OS maps.  The airfield first saw service in 1916 to protect London from Zeppelin raids and was an RAF base for the battle of Britain and through to the ‘50s.   As we came close our conversation was drowned out by a loud jet taxiing along the runway.

We looped North through Hastingwood then crossed the once northern extremity of the Central Line (now kept alive by train enthusiasts operating a weekend service) and approached Chipping Ongar via Greensted church.  Having visited the oldest freehouse a couple of weeks ago, it was only fitting to visit the oldest wooden church, dating from the 11th century.
Greensted Church
 Paslows Farm track

We reached Norton Heath Café just after 11 am via the track through Paslows Farm.  Recently refurbished and now open on Sunday mornings, this café is proving popular with the local cycling clubs.  The sign said Good Food Café and it certainly lived up to this claim.
Norton Heath Cafe

I did my best not to get lost in the network of small, quiet lanes and was helped by following National Cycle Route 1, which took us through Writtle Agricultural College (or should I say University) to the village for lunch at the Rose & Crown.  Light rain briefly sprinkled on the sunshade in the garden, but had stopped before we left.

Then we took a fairly direct route via Kelvedon Hatch, where I was tempted to divert to the ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’ for a cuppa (it’s worth a visit if only to see the Maggie Thatcher dummy tucked into a bunk bed), but we pressed on to Stapleford Aerodrome for tea, where we watched several light aircraft taking off and landing.
 The old road near Kelvedon Hatch
 Stapleford Aerodrome cafe

The route finished with a climb through the top end of Epping Forest to complete a 50 mile circuit and a pleasant day spent exploring unfamiliar and relatively flat lanes in the lush Essex countryside.
View full route map.