Epping to Hatfield Broad Oak 26 June
Eight of us met at Leytonstone station and rendezvous with three others, who had cycled from Walthamstow, at Epping. The weather started rather uncertainly but gradually improved throughout the ride and we enjoyed spinning through the lovely Essex countryside in the midsummer.
We faced the undulating terrain of Toot Hill before crossing the A414 and the quieter and flatter lanes beyond. Avoiding the flooded road we passed through Matching Green where Bill had to leave us. Onward we went up the stunning Sparrows Lane to the village of Hatfield Broad Oak, the most northerly point on the journey. We joined faster roads to Hatfield Heath and Sheering before diverting to Matching Tye and the Fox pub, our lunch stop, where they had some fascinating geese
After lunch we followed Faggotters lane through the ford to Magdalen Laver and the through North Weald back to Epping.
A great ride with few mechanical problems, I had my chain break and was rescued by Martyn having a magic link at the start of the ride. Bikes should be in good working order before coming on rides and I will endeavour to follow this advice in future. We had two punctures on the ride and Mick decided to walk back to the station after sustaining the second of these.
Valentineâ€™s day ride around the Hundred of Hoo
With Gravesend only 17 minutes by train from Stratford the Hoo peninsular was a convenient destination. Ten of us, with our bikes, took this train and met two more, Nick and Nigel, at Gravesend station.
The weather was cold but bright with a north easterly breeze providing a slight headwind as we set off towards the medway and the infamous Kingsnorth power station. We were soon out of Gravesend and riding through the bleak and open farmland which makes up much of the peninsular. As we passed Hoo St Werburgh the route provided us with some great views of the river Medway and Kingsnorth, the pretty village of Stoke gave us a convenient comfort break and we were then approaching Allhallows, the most easterly point of the ride. This was significant as the wind should have been behind us for the rest of the ride. In the 1930â€™s All Hallows was planned to be a major resort, to rival Southend, which can be seen across the Thames, but WW2 intervened and the Pilot pub and a large estate of mobile homes is all that remains of this dream. However the views from the beach were impressive as a huge container ship sailed up the estuary confirming that the river must be deep despite the tide being so far out.
We stopped for a good lunch at the Fenn Bell Inn in St Mary Hoo, where we had a group photo with the pet shark:
After lunch we had a couple of navigational challenges and went off piste before regaining our route and finding the delightful village of Cooling, with its fascinating church and castle. The 13th century church provided Dickens with the inspiration for the opening chapter of Great Expectations, where Pip meets the convict Magwitch, and more recently where Jools Holland married Christabel McEwan and they now live, happily ever after, in the castle.
Another detour saw the group split, although we both followed basically the same route. This led us along the Thames and Medway canal and alongside the Eurostar rail track and into the industrial side of Gravesend. Although a designated cycle route, we had to negotiate flood water, glass and fires to complete our intrepid adventure into this wild and desolate corner of Kent.
The group were reunited at Gravesend station for the short ride back to Stratford
If you are interested in the ride statistics here they are:
By Steve Smith
Forest Gate to Greensted Church Â Â Â Â 10th January 2016
We were 13 at Coffee7 at 9am on Sunday morning which was an excellent turnout for the first ride of the year.Â Â Perhaps the New year resolutions were applying some leverage. The weather was sunny and dry but after so much rain had fallen over the previous days the roads were still wet. The route followed suburban roads through Woodford, along the Roding Valley to Loughton and then out to Theydon Bois. We then found a few undulating and invigorating hills as we followed country lanes through Toot Hill to Greensted in the bright winter sunshine.
The church, claimed as the oldest wooden church in the world is charming, and includes the grave of a crusader and a lepers view hole. All these elements give the church a fantastic opportunity for imaginative stories about their origins and those visitors who were here long before us.
After restarting the ride we followed small lanes toward Navestock and Stapleford Abbots.Â Â The lunch stop was at the two Brewers Chigwell Row was a busy pub/restaurant, this meant lunch consisted more of a refreshment stop with a drink and a few crisps and nuts for most. It may be a good idea to let the lunch venue know of our arrival on future rides, if we can estimate the number of riders
On the way back we followed the newly emerging quiet way from Fairlop to Wanstead and finished the ride where we started, outside a coffee7 under a darkening sky.
We had a few punctures which slowed our pace, however the group was well equipped and we were easily able to fix them.
More photos (taken by Robin Stephenson) can be found onÂ Flickr
On the evening of Monday 7th December, Newham Cyclists toured the extravagant lighting displays of London’s West End. We met by the steps at St Pauls Cathedral before following a route that took in all the major shopping streets and some iconic London venues such as Trafalgar Square and Somerset House.
Bill joined us on Bond Street outside Burberry’s, had he been Christmas shopping? It was not clear, as he wasn’t saying. The route deviated from the plan and we took Regent Street instead of Piccadilly down to Piccadilly Circus. A minor route planning mistake by the ride leader caused a little confusion, but once regrouped we headed for the bright lights of Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square
The famous Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square looked as if it had been exposed to strong winds as it seemed to have a natural tilt, and the horse skeleton with the stock market data stream on the fourth plinth required some interpretation. Carnaby Street lights were impressively gaudy and Covent Garden had an excellent tree, as did Somerset House.
There were some challenges as the roads were busy and there were lots of pedestrians, however the evening temperature was mild and and dry and there was no wind. We returned via Winterville in Victoria Park, but the bike parking was woefully inadequate so we did not go in and diverted to the People’s Pub on Victoria Park Road for deserved and festive refreshment.
More pictures, courtesy of Robin here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rsstephenson/albums/72157662020002231