Off-road ‘Tour d’Essex’, anyone?
ranted, Essex is probably not the first place you think of when someone mentions mountain biking, but the new Olympic course at Hadleigh Farm promises more than enough to challenge the best riders in the world when they arrive here in 2012.
Designers have been busy sculpting this rather scenic spot into a series of stock-strewn paths, steep, technical descents littered with tree roots – and even a tunnel.
It promises to be spectator-friendly too, with grandstand seating for 3,000, and space for another 17,000 people to get up-close and personal with the action at various points around the lap.
But if you can’t wait that long to get involved, there’s good news. Essex is quite blessed when it comes to off-road trails, with Epping and Hainault Forests, The Fitch Way, Langdon Falls and Thorndon Park already well established with riders around the UK.
Best of all, they’re all linked by a network of bridleways, so if you’re feeling keen, you could set out on your own off-road ‘Tour d’Essex’.
Back at Hadleigh Farm meanwhile, there are plenty of reasons to visit before 2012 – and they don’t all involve biking. As you might have guessed from the name, there’s a rare breeds farm here where youngsters can meet the resident goats, sheep, rabbits and pigs – as well as tackling the tricky willow maze and other activities.
Then of course there’s the nearby ruins of the 13th-century castle, where you can look out across the Essex marshes. Why not jump on your bike and see what it’s all about?