Making the most of it

Icknield Way Trail
Icknield Way Trail

A week away from home working and staying on the Cambridgeshire-Essex border didn’t look like it was going to provide many mountain biking opportunities of an evening. Looking at the map around Saffron Walden there also appeared to be very little in the way of bridleways or trails. But I was not going to be deterred so I took my hard tail with the intention of doing some exploring.

The Slade - Saffron Walden
The Slade – Saffron Walden

Heading into Saffron Walden from my accommodation in Littlebury looked like it was going to be a simple road ride, but my trusty Garmin Edge helped me spot a little byway that proved to be a lot of fun. As I neared Saffron Walden (after only a mile or so) I found a dried up river bed (The Salde I think) that I followed right through the town – it was a bit of fun and had a few drops and hops to keep me on my toes.

Audley End Estate and Gardens
Audley End Estate and Gardens

The local landmark is the Audley End estate – it looks very nice but was of course closed to cyclists. My little explore was only around 14km but was certainly worth the time.

Large Snail at Coploe Hill Pit
Large Snail at Coploe Hill Pit

The following evening I pedaled up and over the M11 motorway, hoping to explore a wood I had spotted on the map.  It was very clearly marked as private so i decided against it and instead tried to follow something that was called the Icknield Way Trail.  As with may trails and bridleways at this time of the year they look very tempting a map but turn into a nettlefest when you actually find them.  I think I was stung more in about 100m of trail then I have ever been before and it took my poor legs a good 2 days to stop tingling.

The Icknield Way Trail looks actually very interesting and it goes from somewhere in Bedfordshire and all the way towards Thetford Forest. The 170 mile route looks very interesting but if the short section I rode is anything to go by, cover your legs!

The highlight of this little ride was certainly the snails at Coploe Hill Pit. It looked like a great spot for a ride (a disused chalk pit), but it was overrun with huge snails and a ride through would have certainly resulted in a few getting crunched so I headed back into the wind and a tiny bit of rain.

Italian Burger at the Queends Head Inn, Littlebury

I final explore on Wednesday evening was much more successful. I had found a walking route on the internet called Beechy Ride – sounded ideal – so decided to head south of Saffron Walden for an explore.  What I found was some fantastic singletrack and bridleway routes. Some 20km later I was back at the pub tucking into an enormous burger and a few pints of Stowford Press.

The route can be seen below on my Strava pages along with a couple of photos on Instagram.

Yesterday I visited Hadleigh Park – the site of the 2012 Olympics MTB route – but that’s worth a post of its own I think.


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