Colchester to Ardleigh Car Boot Sale

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This is a short but enjoyable circular cycle ride starting and finishing in Colchester. It utilises National Cycle Route 1 for part of the way. From Colchester town centre, cycle down East Hill and turn left on a signed cycle path - just before the bridge crossing the River Colne. The cycle path and footpath continue following the river upstream. It is easy and pleasant cycling beside the river which is crossed just before the Castle Park. The route now continues along the edge of the sports centre car park and along Cowdray Avenue. A signed turn off to the left passes under a railway line and emerges at the edge of a housing estate . As an alternative start, turn left off East Hill and continue along Roman Road and down beside the park to the same bridge. This is the way we cycled. There is another choice at the start of the housing estate. The main route is signposted ahead and continues on a cycle path alongside Ipswich Road. A more interesting alternative is to follow the cycle path through to Highwoods Country Park. This was our choice. After the park the way continues to be marked through Highwoods Estate, eventually passing into more open countryside. Care is needed on a short stretch of busy road - Severalls Lane. A right turn takes the cyclist on a less busy road through to Langham - Langham Lane. Note: It is best to continue on the main road past the right turn and cross the road some 50 metres further where visibility in both directions is much better. The way continues to follow National Cycle Route 1. A very nice section of lane is cycled with a fairly prolonged slope. At the bottom there are attractive water meadows on both sides. A short climb follows and where more open countryside is reached. At the next junction do not turn left and down the hill to Stratford St Mary. Instead turn right and then next left - Birchwood Road - heading towards Dedham. The main A12 road is crossed on a road bridge. Turn right at Lamb Corner. After a short fairly busy road section the way continues very pleasantly on quiet country lanes - Malting Farm Lane joining Hart’s Lane. The car boot sale field is joined s short distance along the Old Ipswich Road. This is a huge boot sale with a regular attendance of 400-500 booters or even more. It will take some time to walk around it all. Of particular interest to me on my last visit was the number of people selling collectible items such as stamps and coins. Continue back to Colchester along the Old Ipswich Road turning left before the main slip road onto the busy A120. This quiet lane gives access to Ardleigh Reservoir and the best way to continue is across the bridge over the A120. This continues as a lane which joins the A137 Colchester Road. Turn right onto this and follow this road which becomes the Harwich Road - all the way back to the town centre.

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