Fancy pedalling through a little-known history of north Essex? This easy-going four mile circular route begins and ends in the peaceful Domesday village of Ridgewell, but circumnavigates some hostile times in-between.
Head towards Haverhill on the A1017. Turn right onto Ashen Road and then right into Tilbury Road. Weave along this narrow strip of tarmac for three-quarters of a mile before turning left at a sharp right-hand bend. Immediately on the right are 14 moss-covered steps.
These steps lead to an area now given over to a small group of modern houses. But 64 years ago they led to a site that was once the headquarters of the US Army Air Force 381st Bomb Group based at Station 167 RAF Ridgewell.
Continue up the narrow hill between steeply banked hedgerows and follow the lane to its end. You now reach the wide plateau on which RAF Ridgewell was originally built. At the end of the lane, turn left. The road you are now following led somewhere entirely different during the Second World War as it was originally a taxiway used by British and American bombers to reach intersecting runways before heading off to Nazi Germany.
Follow the road's acute angles, passing Essex Gliding Club on the right. Directly ahead is an iron gate. Beyond this (on what is now private property) sat two hangars which were eventually demolished during the 1970s. It was inside one of these that Bing Crosby briefly entertained the US troops.
Descending slightly, you arrive in the small parish of Ashen with its 15th century buildings and royal connection (Lionel, son of King Edward III, is known to have been one of its residents). Turn left into The Street and follow its course. On exiting Ashen's western edge, watch the vista open up ahead to reveal undulating farmland.
Follow the road until it reaches its conclusion in Ridgewell. Turn left and follow the A1017 to the southern edge of the village. On the right hand side is the 18th century White Horse Inn. It was here that many of the wartime servicemen drank to forget their troubles. It now serves as a peaceful reminder of a time and place that should never be forgotten.
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