Cycle your way round Essex!
One of the best ways to explore the sites is by bike. Country parks especially are most suitable for off road cycling for the whole family. Some have special cycle paths and offer cycle hire. Great Notley Country Park (near Braintree) for example and the nearby Flitch Way cover an area of 100 acres with views across open farmland to the west, and a link to over 15 miles of walking and cycling paths completely off-road ideal for families with young children. The park's Cycle Centre offers you the chance to hire bikes, tandems, trailers, child seats and tagalongs.
Our five cycle maps illustrate circular routes meandering through some of the county's most beautiful rural areas and passing through many of its most charming villages and towns. Each route has details on the towns and villages as well as places of interest that can be visited whilst in the area together with quality assured accommodation, should you wish to stay longer, and places to eat.
The five cycle routes are:
1. Medieval markets, mazes and Morris dancing. Routes around Saffron Walden and Thaxted.
The route meanders through some of the most beautiful countryside of north Essex. As with all routes you can start and finish wherever it suits you but make sure you visit the attractive historic town of Thaxted with it's landmark buildings and the ancient market town of Saffron Walden with a rich heritage of old buildings. Visit the many attractions including the Bridge End gardens, a hidden gem near the Fry Art Gallery and the Saffron Walden museum. Not to be missed are the unique and ancient turf maze, the largest example of its type in the world and one of only eight surviving turf mazes in England.
2. Designer shopping and country living. Routes around Braintree and Great Dunmow.
Braintree has a long and fascinating history - emerging from a Bronze Age valley settlement as an important and flourishing market town located at the crossroads of two Roman roads. Amongst the many attractions you can visit are the Braintree District Museum and the Warner Textile Archive Gallery. As you cycle around Great Dunmow the atmosphere of a prosperous market town becomes quite apparent. Do look out for the charming historic buildings such as the ‘Old Town Hall' of 1578 and the ‘Clock House' of 1586 as well as the restored ‘Maltings' in Mill Lane.
3. Picture-perfect villages. Routes around Coggeshall, Finchingfield and the Hedinghams.
Cycle around these villages and you will discover textbook examples of traditional English villages. Finchingfield is described as the ‘most photographed village in England' and has won won many awards
for its traditional picturesque setting. Coggeshall has an attractive village centre and is made up of nearly 200 listed buildings, many are timberframed dating as far back as the 14th century. Paycocke's House is an exceptional example of a 16th century wealthy clothier's house.Castle Hedingham's "real" history begins with the Normans. Visit Hedingham Castle today and marvel at this superbly preserved keep and just imagine how it must have looked when King Henry VII, VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited.
4. Cultural sites and Constable Country. Routes around Colchester and Dedham.
For a relaxing ride visit Constable Country. Its sublime gently rolling agricultural landscape broken by Dedham church and the mills and barns that Constable immortalised in the 19th century can be best explored on foot or by bike. For something more energetic and diverse head for Colchester. For years the town celebrated its status as Britain's oldest recorded town, documented since it was the Celtic stronghold of Camulodunum. Today it is a place which offers a happy blend of heritage of international importance together with a strong contemporary atmosphere including small specialist shops, cafés, restaurants and galleries. There are so many attractions you can visit, a day will not be enough.
5. Chelmsford treats and riverside retreats. Routes around Chelmsford and Maldon.
The county town of Essex, also known as the birthplace of radio, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan town surrounded by picturesque villages each with their own charm and history. Chignall St James and Chignall Smealey have delightful cottages revealing traditional Essex plasterwork and Pleshey has thatched cottages and a castle mound. As you cycle towards Maldon the landscape slowly changes revealing the character of Estuary landscape. Follow right down to the Hythe. As you cycle down to the Quay the most impressive and spectacular view spreads in front of you - the graceful and majestic Thames Sailing Barges. Once an essential means of carrying goods to London they are now mainly used for leisure.
TrailNet offers you the chance to hire bikes, tandems, trailers, child seats and tagalongs. Cycle hire is available at Great Notley Country Park, Thorndon Country Park and Hatfield Forest in Takeley. For more information please visit the website.
The Outdoor Hire Centre operates a fleet of cycles available for hire to visitors and residents in the North Essex and South Suffok area.
Hired equipment is delivered and collected to / from your home, your holiday cottage, hotel or your campsite - always at pre-arranged times convenient to you. For more information please visit the website.