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Motorcycle rideout to the Suffolk coast, 20th-21st August 2020

Wednesday, 26 August 2020 at 21:04

Old Bourne Bridge Wherstead on Dr John Dunn.

Old Bourne Bridge, near my Wherstead accomodation

After passing through Baldock I chose to avoid the A505 dual carriageway (which incidentally follows the line of the ancient Icknield Way) and ride instead over the chalk hills through Wallington, where I passed close to an old timber-framed farmhouse with overhanging upper storey. I rode along narrow country lanes to Sandon and then to Buckland where I crossed over Ermine Street (A10), to arrive at London Road (B1368) in Barkway. Both this section of Ermine Street and London Road were once maintained by the Wadesmill Turnpike Trust (1733).

This is the last stone in a set of 16 milestones from Cambridge to Barkway put there by William Warren, using money from a charitable fund set up in 1586. Warren started setting up these milestones in 1725. They are said to be the oldest set of milestone surviving today. This milestone was first placed on 29 May 1728. The two crests are arms of Robert Hare (whose money along with Dr William Mowse, a Master of Trinity Hall set up the charity) and the arms of Trinity Hall. The iron plaque was added later (early 19th century) by the Wadesmill Turnpike Trust and covers the original inscription. The stone originally stood by the village inn but now stands by "Milestone House” ( )

I rode on from Barkway, along the old turnpike to Barley, where I turned right to pass under the famous old Fox and Hounds inn sign on the B1039 to Great Chishill, passing by the historic windmill, rebuilt in 1819 from the material of an earlier mill.
Famous pub sign

Great Chishill Windmill

Continuing along this lovely winding road I reached Wendens Ambo where a sharp bend in the road is accentuated by an adverse camber. Here the old turnpike coaching route runs parallel to the railway that led to the former’s demise. This was the Hockerill Turnpike (1744), now the B1383, with which I briefly flirted before turning off along the B1052 to Saffron Walden. The deep chalk cuttings and embankments along this road might well have been made to facilitate a more horse-friendly connection between Saffron Walden and the Hockerill Highway in the coaching era.

I passed through the busy town centre, famed for its colourful 14th and 15th century timber-framed buildings, to leave by the B1053 Radwinter Road.

I had intended to ride through Radwinter to Steeple Bumpstead, but roadworks intervened at Hempstead, diverting me along delightful country lanes through Great Sampford and Cornish Hall End before I reached Steeple Bumpstead via the B1057, where I was immediately met by the striking Guildhall.

Guildhall, Steeple Bumpstead

From Steeple Bumpstead it was but a few short miles along the B1054 to Wixoe, where I joined briefly the Redcross Turnpike (1766), now the A1077, before I crossed the River Stour into Suffolk at Baythorne End to join a branch of the Sudbury to Bury St Edmunds Turnpike (1762), now the A1092.

I followed the turnpike route through Stoke by Clare, Clare, Cavendish and Long Melford, all quintessential coaching towns with their roadside inns and houses, many contemporary with the turnpike and earlier.

Bell Hotel Clare
Quintessential coaching inn