JOY OF ESSEX
Not a white van in sight
Bert’s tea hut is a popular meeting spot buried deep in Epping Forest and the first port of call for those escaping the big smoke to ride the picturesque Essex countryside. Fuel up with a buttie and a brew then follow the signs for Epping – there’s a filling station at the second roundabout so you can top up your bike’s tank, too. After Epping High Street take the B181 to pass through North Weald and join the A414, where the fun really begins.
Head east towards Ongar and you’ll find a wide two-lane blacktop that climbs rapidly to crest with a left/right S before swooping through a series of sweepers to the roundabout at the Four Wantz. Take a left here for the B184, a sinuous ribbon of kerbless grey whose grassy flanks grow wild at the height of summer to overhang its fast flowing apexes.
Turn right on the A1060 for about a mile, then left on to the B184; with broad fields either side this section runs almost dead straight, culminating in a token dip and twist before the left turn into Great Dunmow. Take a right at the Saracen’s Head and as you roll out of town turn right again for the B1057 to Finchingfield. This road is legendary among local riders and demands respect. Verdant verges set the scene while the tarmac carves a devilish groove, curling through a barrage of tight, technical turns that conspire to keep you guessing. Follow the vanishing point as it describes the depth of each tantalising bend, whisking your focus from one to the next and, as the road opens up, disappearing into the distance.
Take a well-deserved break at Finchingfield, where it’s likely you’ll find a few fellow riders parked up around the green. This picture postcard village lies at the crossroads of the B1053 and B1057, providing a natural staging point for anyone enjoying these fantastic roads. For tea and cake you’ll find no warmer welcome than at biker friendly Bosworth’s, who just happen to knock up an awesome brekkie too.
The accepted norm is to turn around and head back, but there’s a further loop to the north worth taking in first. Stay on the 57 to explore the flowing turns that unfold towards Steeple Bumpstead, before turning left on the B1054 to enjoy even more of the same. At Hempstead peel off on the B1053 which will take you, via Great Sampford, back to Finchingfield. The return ride to Dunmow is as spectacular as it is satisfying and will leave you making plans to head back this way soon.