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Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: Cambridge to London

Finchingfield, on the route of Stage 3, Tour de France 2014

The route of Stage Three of the 2014 Tour de France, on Monday 7th July 2014, is from Cambridge to London. It's 159km (or 155km/97mi, excluding the processional part of the stage, following the départ fictif in Cambridge), so a relatively short stage. It heads south from Cambridge to Saffron Walden, then on to Rayne near Braintree, Chelmsford, and Epping Forest, before making its way via the Olympic Park in Stratford, into London, for a finish on The Mall near Buckingham palace. You can see the route on the Tour de France 2014 Stage Three map; there's also an interactive map of Stage 3.

400,000 people are expected in Cambridge to watch the start of the race, Cambridge News reports. The race then passes through some beautiful Cambridgeshire and Essex countryside, to arrive in Epping for the day's intermediate sprint. The riders take the road through Epping Forest, and head into London via the Olympic Park. Lots of spectators are expected in London, in particular at The Mall, and the two Tour de France Fan Parks at Green Park and Trafalgar Square.

(See our stage 3 report, which describes how the race turned out on 7th July 2014).

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: video of the route

Our video of the route of Stage Three of the 2014 Tour de France shows the itinerary in around 6 minutes. You can see the roads of the route, the countryside, towns, villages, pubs, landmarks and attractions along the way, plus there's film of cyclists on the route of Stage Three of the Tour de France 2014.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: the route

Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2014 should be fairly easy for the riders. As well as being one of the shorter stages, it's mainly flat. It's likely to set up a sprint on The Mall when the race arrives in London. 

Thierry Gouvenou, the Sports Director of the Tour, who set the route, described it as, 'A short 155km stage to the British capital, which gave the Tour de France an unforgettable welcome in 2007. A prestigious stage which will take the peloton alongside the Olympic Park and London's most famous landmarks before finishing opposite Buckingham Palace. Of course, with everything pointing towards a mass sprint, the spotlight will be back on Cavendish. Will he be at the top of his game? I think so. But one thing is for sure: the crowds will turn out in force, as large and fiery as seven years ago.'

Stage 3, Tour de France 2014: the start in Cambridge (départ fictif)

Parker's Piece, Cambridge   Christ's college Cambridge

Stage 3 begins on Gonville Place, by Parker's Piece. The route turns right up Regent St, which becomes Andrew's St then Sidney St. It passes Emmanuel college, Christ's college, and Sidney Sussex college. 

It makes a sharp left at the Round church, and comes back down St John's St and Trinity St (past St John's and Trinity colleges). The riders will carry on along King's Parade, past King's college, St Catherine's college, Corpus Christi college, Pembroke college, and Peterhouse. They'll continue in the same direction on Trumpington St, which turns into Trumpington Rd, and passes the University Botanic garden, heading out of Cambridge towards Trumpington. 

See our Tour de France in Cambridge section for a map of the route in Cambridge, and a guide to the colleges and churches it passes.

The start in Cambridge is a départ fictif, which means that the riders will go relatively slowly, in a procession, until the racing begins outside the city, 500m before Trumpington.

Round church, Cambridge  Trinity college, Cambridge   

This is our video of the Tour de France route through Cambridge:

Read more about the Tour de France in Cambridge.

Stage 3, Tour de France 2014: Cambridge to Saffron Walden (0-19.5km;0-12mi)

Thatched house in Trumpington   The Plough, Great Shelford

Leaving Cambridge, the Tour de France riders will head south along the Trumpington Rd to the village of Trumpington. (There is a cycle route on the road to Trumpington). In Trumpington, they take the left fork, along the A1301 to Great Shelford - a leafy commuter village, which rather sprawls along the main road.

The A1301 follows the river Cam (or Granta) past Sawston and Hinxton. This map shows the Tour route in Cambridgeshire:

Map of Tour de France route in Cambridgeshire

At the junction with the A11 (Stump Cross), the Tour de France route passes into the gently rolling countryside of Essex. This map from Essex County Council shows the route in the county. The riders will take the B184 past Great Chesterford and Little Chesterford, then continue on the B184 to Saffron Walden.

Littlebury, near Saffron Walden    Cross Keys Hotel, Saffron Walden

Stage 3, Tour de France 2014: Saffron Walden to Wethersfield (19.5-42km; 12-26mi)

St Mary's church, Saffron Walden   Cottage at Sewards End

The riders arrive on the B184 Bridge St, then turn left up George St/Hill St, and continue on East Street, past The Common. From Saffron Walden, the route heads south east on the B1053 Radwinter Rd, through small villages such as Sewards End, Radwinter, Great Sampford, and Little Sampford. 

This map from Essex County Council shows the route in Uttlesford district (from Stump Cross to Little Sampford). 

The Tour then crosses into Braintree district, and passes through Finchingfield, before arriving at Wethersfield

This map shows the Tour route in Braintree district.

Fox Inn, Finchingfield   Village Hall, Wethersfield

Stage 3, Tour de France 2014: Wethersfield to Chelmsford (42-76km;26-47.5mi)

George Inn, Shalford   Felsted School

The riders take the B1053 past Boydell's Farm and over the river Pant to Shalford. They then continue on minor roads through the flat countryside to Shalford Green and Rayne. They cross over the A120 just after Rayne, and, back in Uttlesford district now, they pass through charmingly-named hamlets such as Bartholomew Green, Frenches Green, Bannister Green, and Watch House Green, to arrive in Felsted. They're on the B1417 out of Felsted through Hartford End, then cross the river Chelmer, and turn off to Howe Street and Great Waltham. They arrive at the western edge of Chelmsford.

This map shows the Tour route in Chelmsford district.

Langleys manor house near Great Waltham   Pig & Whistle, Chignall Smealy, Great Waltham

Stage 3, Tour de France 2014: Chelmsford to Epping (76-108km; 47.5-67.5mi)

Roxwell   Timber-framed house along the route of the Tour de France in Essex

The route of Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2014 follows the A1060 west from Chelmsford, then branches off left on Vicarage Road to Roxwell. It crosses into the district of Epping, and goes through Shellow Bowells, Birds Green (a hamlet with three fishing lakes - the closest one to the road is Bridge Lake), Fyfield, Moreton, Tyler's Green, and North Weald Bassett. It crosses the M11, and takes the B181 through The Lower Forest (part of Epping Forest) to Epping. The day's intermediate sprint takes place on Epping High Street.

This map shows the Tour route in Epping district.

St Nicholas church, Fyfield   Nag's Head, Moreton

Stage3, Tour de France 2014: Epping to The Mall in London (108-155km; 67.5-97mi)

Epping Forest   A104 London, near Leyton & Walthamstow

The race now heads through Epping Forest on the B1393 then A104. It crosses into Great London near Buckhurst Hill, just before the junction with the A121. At least a million spectators are expected to watch the Tour in London, according to a report in the Evening Standard.

For the Tour de France, Transport for London is responsible for all arrangements inside the M25. On TfL's Tour de France site, there's a nice map of the whole Tour route in London. They also have maps of smaller sections of the Tour de France route in London, starting with an Epping Forest to Stratford Tour de France map.

Stage 3 passes Woodford Green (in the London Borough of Redbridge) on the A104, and continues on the A104 Woodford New Road through Walthamstow. It then joins the Lea valley, going along Orient Way on the edge of Hackney Marsh (known for Sunday league football, with 80+ football, rugby, and cricket pitches), and close to Leyton Orient's Matchroom Stadium. It takes the A106 Eastway/Ruckholt Road, goes under the A12, and along Waterden Road through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, past Here East (the Press and Broadcasting centre during the London Olympics), past the Copper Box arena, over the river Lea, and along Westfield Avenue, with the Olympic stadium to the right. 

Hackney Marshes   Orbit tower, Olympic Park

Next the riders go towards London City airport and Canary Wharf. This TfL map shows the section from the Olympic Park to Canary Wharf

The riders will join the A118 High Street, and head south east through West Ham on the A112 West Ham Lane/Plaistow Road/High Street/Greengate Street/Prince Regent Lane. (West Ham is known for West Ham Park, and West Ham United Football Club). After crossing the A13, they turn down Tollgate Road then Stansfield Road, past Beckton District Park on the left, and on the right King George V Park, which contains Newham City Farm

They arrive at the Royal Albert Dock (home to the London Regatta rowing centre), near London City Airport, and cross Connaught Bridge, before heading west on North Woolwich Road between the Thames and the Royal Victoria Dock. Here, they'll ride alongside the Docklands Light Railway, and they go under the cable car. The race takes the Lower Lea crossing, over the river Lea where it joins the Thames. It goes past East India Dock, and continues on Aspen Way, through Blackwall, past Billingsgate Fish Market and West India Quay, and close to Canary Wharf. 

London City airport   Royal Victoria Dock and Canary Wharf

This is a TfL map of the section from London City Airport to London Bridge.

Stage 3 continues via the Limehouse Link, which takes the riders onto the A1203 The Highway. This TfL map is of the final section from The Highway to The Mall

Tower Bridge, London   Tower of London

The riders continue west on East Smithfield to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Tower Hill, Byward Street (past the Old Custom House, and HMS Belfast), and Lower Thames Street take the riders to London Bridge, then they're on Upper Thames Street past Southwark Bridge to Blackfriars Bridge. The race continues on Victoria Embankment past Waterloo Bridge, Cleopatra's Needle, and Embankment tube station. There'll be views of the London Eye before the riders get to Westminster Bridge. 

Cleopatra's Needle   Houses of Parliament, London

The Tour de France goes via Bridge Street, Parliament Square (past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben), St George Street, and onto Birdcage Walk (along the side of St James's Park). The riders will veer right on Spur Road, pass the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. Green Park (where there's a Tour de France Fan Park) is now on their left. They'll sprint to the finish part way along The Mall. 

(At the other end of The Mall is Trafalgar Square, where there's another Tour de France Fan Park). 

Buckingham Palace, London   The Mall, London

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: where to watch the race

Where to watch Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: the start in Cambridge

Parker's Piece, Cambridge

The start in Cambridge will be a popular place to watch Stage 3, with perhaps 400,000 people there. There's space for 10,000 at the spectator hub on Parker's Piece, and there'll be many more lining the roads. The riders will roll fairly gently on a route past many of the colleges and churches, then head out south towards Trumpington. See our Tour de France Cambridge page.

Where to watch Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: the Olympic Park

Olympic Park

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was at one time listed as a Tour de France Fan Park, but appears to have been removed from the list. However, it seems that it is still an official spectator hub, to be run by Transport for London. Anyway, there's no reason why you couldn't watch the race from here. The riders will take Waterden Road past the Copper Box arena, then Westfield Avenue. There is plenty of parkland, and there are cafes for refreshments here. We assume that TfL will put up a big screen. The Olympic Park will provide a magnificent background to the race.

Where to watch Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: Tour de France Fan Parks

Apart from Parker's Piece and the Olympic Park, there are two other official spectator venues - the Tour de France Fan Parks on Stage 3 of the Tour de France 2014 - the London equivalent of spectator hubs, which are at Green Park and Trafalgar Square. (There's also a Fan Park at Canary Wharf, but it opens at a later date, 24th to 27th July, for the end of the Tour).

They'll all have big screens to watch the event, food and drink available, and entertainment. They are family-friendly venues.

Where to watch Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: the intermediate sprint at Epping

Black Lion, Epping

There are no climbs on Stage 3 - it's designed to lead to a sprint on The Mall at the finish. However, there is an intermediate sprint. Those riders hoping to win the Green Jersey of the points classification for the most consistent sprinter will contest the intermediate sprint on Epping High Street. This will be a popular spot to cheer on the peloton - but be warned, the riders will be past in a flash.

Where to watch Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: the finish on The Mall

Buckingham Palace from The Mall

The stage finishes on The Mall, the riders coming up Birdcage Walk, along Spur Road, past the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, and towards the finish part way along The Mall. There are sure to be throngs of spectators. To see the rest of the stage on a big screen, head to the Tour de France Fan Parks at Green Park or Trafalgar Square.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: timings

The Thames, London

The Tour de France organisers have published the estimated timings for Stage Three of the 2014 Tour on Monday 7th July. There are three different scenarios, based on different average speeds of the race. Stage Three leaves Cambridge at 12.15 (ceremonial start), and the racing starts at 12.25 just before Trumpington. The riders should arrive at the finish on The Mall, London between 3.42 and 4.01pm.

See the full timings for Stage Three, Tour de France 2014.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: road closures

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014 road closures: Cambridge

Road closures in Cambridge will begin at 5.30pm on Sunday 6th July 2014, with the roads around Parker's Piece, then continue with other roads at 4am on Monday 7th July, and a further tranche at 7am. See Tour de France in Cambridge for details.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014 road closures: Uttlesford district

Tour route into Saffron Walden

In Uttlesford district, the roads of the Tour route will be closed from 7.30am to 4pm on Monday 7th July. See Uttlesford DC's maps showing the route and the closure times.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014 road closures: Braintree district

Braintree District Council say that roads in the district on the Tour route will be closed to traffic from 7.30am to 4.30pm on Monday 7th July. Once the roads are closed, there will still be pedestrian access via stewarded crossing points. See Braintree DC's Tour information including road closures.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014 road closures: Chelmsford district

The planned closures in Chelmsford district on Monday 7th July are from 8am to 5pm. Chelmsford DC say that the roads affected are those of the route itself, and the roads need to be clear of vehicles before they are closed. Residents can park at Melbourne Park or Admirals Park. There will be pedestrian access to the route after the roads close to traffic, with stewarded crossing points. They have produced a letter for residents about the road closures.

See our Tour de France in Chelmsford page.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014 road closures: Epping Forest district

In Epping Forest district, roads on the Tour route to the north of the A414 Talbot roundabout will close at 8am on Monday 7th July, and to the south of the roundabout, they will close at 9am. Epping Forest DC say that the target re-opening time is 5pm.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014 road closures: Greater London

A104 Leyton, London

The broad timing of road closures on the Tour route in London is 10am to 6pm, according to the TFL Tour de France travel & disruption page. The general advice on driving is only to drive if there's no alternative, avoid areas near the event route, plan ahead, consider re-timing your journey, and allow more time than usual. Other points on driving include:

  • there may be some closures before 10am where barriers need to be put up
  • there are no closures on key strategic roads (A11, A12, A13, M25, A406 North Circular, and Rotherhithe & Blackwall tunnels), but displaced traffic from the Tour route may make other areas busier than normal
  • parking is suspended on the Tour route and some surrounding roads
  • driving to airports may be difficult, particularly to City Airport, where public transport is recommended

TFL have a status updates page, with a map showing the route and road closures. There's also a pdf of traffic impact maps (unfortunately, you have to tilt your head 90 degrees to read them).

There'll be diversions to certain bus routes. Most tube and rail services will run as normal, but the Circle and District lines are expected to be very busy, as are stations along the route, especially in Zone 1 and from midday to 6pm. 

Cycle Hire docking stations on and near the Tour route may be suspended.

Stage Three, Tour de France 2014: towns and villages on the route

Great Shelford

Great Shelford Post Office   Mini garage, Great Shelford

Great Shelford is a village a few miles south of Cambridge, with a population of 4,233 (2011 census). It is a couple of kilometres west of the Gog Magog Hills.

Shelford already existed at the time of the Domesday Book (1086), when it was called Scelford (meaning shallow ford), and had a population of 70 to 120 people.

Great Shelford has connections with several famous people. Theatre director Sir Peter Hall lived in the Station House as a child. Novelist Tom Sharpe had a house in the village. US President Barack Obama has an ancestor who lived in Great Shelford then adjacent Stapleford: Thomas Blossom (born around 1580) moved first to Leiden, in the Netherlands, then to Salem, Massachusetts, according to an article in the Daily Telegraph

It is said that Pink Floyd performed at a large house in Great Shelford in 1965 (Trinity House, Cambridge Road), and the cover photo for their album 'Ummagumma' was taken there.

The Shelford Feast, which goes back to Medieval times, is a community event held every year in the second week of July. 

Great Shelford has two bike shops - Trumpington Cycles and the Cambridge Cycle Company

The Tour de France is due in Great Shelford around 12.30pm on Monday 7th July 2014. Great Shelford Community website has a Tour de France section, with details of road closures. The race route and some adjoining roads will be closed from 7am to about 3pm on 7th July. It also mentions that Great and Little Shelford School will close that day. It suggests accommodation at High Green Lodge B&B, Lesley's Lunches B&B, Shelford Lodge, and Cambridge Camping & Caravanning Club site on Cabbage Moor, Great Shelford.

Sawston

The Greyhound, Sawston

Sawston is a village about 7 miles south of Cambridge, with a population of 7,275 (2011 census).

The most notable building in Sawston is Sawston Hall, a Tudor manor house which features priest holes, and Cambridge Milk Parsley in the grounds, making it a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It was used by the US Air Force during World War II. 

Sawston Hall was originally built in Norman times. Mary I spent a night there in 1553, and it was then burnt down by the Duke of Northumberland. Mary paid for it to be rebuilt, over 27 years, using stone from Cambridge Castle. In October 2013, Cambridge News reported that the owners had put it up for sale after extensive renovation.

Over the last 200 years or so, paper and printing, and leather, were the main industries in Sawston, taking advantage of the clean water supply from bore holes and streams. More recently, the village has expanded, with housing development, to help fulfil Cambridge's need for more houses.

To the north of Sawston is what passes for high ground around here - Huckeridge Hill, peaking at 32m.

Sawston has cycle routes to Whittlesford to the west, and to Babraham to the east.

The Tour de France trophy was in Sawston on 5th March 2014, at Sawston Village College. The College will close on the day of the Tour, Monday 7th July.

Hinxton

Ford of the river Cam at Hinxton   Old house in Hinxton

Hinxton is a small village on the river Cam, just on the Cambridgeshire side of the Cambridgeshire/Essex border. The name Hinxton is a contraction of Hengestestun, meaning town of Hengest (a leader of an invading Anglo-Saxon army in the 400s). 

Hinxton Mill was used for grinding corn. The present mill was built in the 1600s, but is on the same site as a mill mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086). It is open to visitors.

Hinxton Hall is a red-brick building from the 1700s, which is now the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, working on genome sequencing. 

Hinxton has a pub and a village hall.

Great Chesterford

Great Chesterford   Great Chesterford church

Great Chesterford is an ancient settlement, which was already inhabited in the Bronze Age. There was a civil Romano-British settlement in the C1st AD, which had a tax office and a temple. In the C4th, the Romans built a wall around the village. 

After the Romans, the settlement continued. The name Chesterford is first recorded in writing in 1004, and it was used in the Domesday Book (1086).

In the 1200s, All Saints church was built. In Medieval times, there was a weekly market, confirmed by Charles I by Royal Charter of 1634.

Today, Great Chesterford has a population of 1,494 (2011 census). One of the central features is the Crown House Hotel.

Sewards End

St James' church, Sewards End

Some of the village dates back to the C11th, according to Sewardsend.org. At that time, it was not a defined community, but the village developed around Wills Ayley, where monks from Saffron Walden owned land. 

There have been variations on the village's name, from Syward-hes-haund (1286), to Sewers End (1500s to the early 1900s). The name may come from an early landowner, Sigesward, food taster to Geoffrey de Mandeville. Until the C20th, Sewards End was mainly an agricultural village, but nowadays, it is largely a dormitory village for commuters to London and Cambridge.

St James' church is a chapel of ease of St Mary's Saffron Walden, dating from 1847. Another significant mid-C19th building is The Towers, a large redbrick house now divided into flats.

Sewards End has about 190 houses stretched along the B1053.

Radwinter

Radwinter village sign and church

Radwinter is a village on the river Pant, in the district of Uttlesford and the county of Essex. It has a C14th church and a primary school.

Radwinter history says the village has Roman origins, and that a Medieval tile kiln and fish ponds have been found. Much of the present village is the work of the Bullock family, who were Lords of the manor and rectors of Radwinter from the mid-1700s until the early 1900s. This includes the village school and village hall.

Great Sampford

Great Sampford   Red Lion, Great Sampford

Great Sampford ('the Samp', or 'G Samp') is a village on the river Pant, in Essex, with a population of 586 (2011 census).

It has a primary school, and a church (built 1320-1350) which at one time belonged to Battle Abbey. There's a park, a cricket club, and the Red Lion Inn.

Uttlesford History says that this was a Neolithic site of significance, with worked flints found. There were Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements, and small Roman buildings with heating and tiled roofs. In the Domesday Book, there were two manors, and the place was called 'Sanfort' or 'Sanforda' - from the Old English for sandy ford. (There is still a sandy ford).

During the Second World War, Great Sampford took 150 evacuees from London.

Nowadays, Great Sampford has fewer agriculture workers than traditionally lived here, and is home to many commuters.

Finchingfield

Finchingfield village green   Ducks in road sign, Finchingfield

Finchingfield is a village in the Braintree district of Essex, with a population of 711 (2011 census). It is sometimes called 'the most beautiful village in England', or at least it may be the most photographed. There are a number of photos of the village on finchingfield.org.uk.

Finchingfield Parish Council has a good history section. There was a Roman villa here, but the present village was laid out by the Anglo-Saxons. In Norman times, the village was referred to as Phincingfelda or Fincingefelda (meaning the fields of Finc's people). At one time, nearby Spain's Hall (built early 1400s) dominated the village, as the main landowner and employer. (Spains Hall now does weddings and corporate events, and is offering Tour de France accommodation in holiday cottages, and at a campsite, as well as Tour parking including cycle parking). Later, Finchingfield became a staging post for London to Norwich coaches. 

The village is built around a duck pond and village green. There are picturesque Medieval and Georgian houses, and up a small hill, the church of St John the Baptist (1300s). There's also a windmill, and three pubs - the Fox Inn (which is offering picnics, VIP packages, and live music in the evening on the day of the Tour), the Red Lion, and the Three Tuns.

Essex County Council's Tour de France site says that there will be stalls and events on the village green, with a big screen showing the whole of Stage 3 live.

Braintree District Council say that roads in the district will be closed to traffic from 7.30am to 4.30pm on 7th July 2014. Once the roads are closed, there will be pedestrian access via stewarded crossing points.

Wethersfield

Wethersfield church

Wethersfield's name probably comes from a Viking invader, Wuthha, or Wotha, who had a field or clearing here. People from Wethersfield were amongst those who emigrated with the Pilgrim Fathers to New England, and there are Wethersfields in Connecticut and New York state. Wethersfield has more recent connections with the USA, too, because Wethersfield airfield was used as a base by the US Air Force in World War II, and again as part of a NATO agreement from 1952 to 1990. It is now occupied by the UK Ministry of Defence police, who guard military bases.

Wethersfield-Essex.co.uk (click on the link to 'Visit the Village) gives an indication of the main features of the village - a village green, church of St Mary Magdelane, High Street, village school, Post Office stores, and garage.

Much of Wethersfield life is centred on the Village Hall and club. The Hall is a former malting from the 1800s, which was given to the residents of the village in 1921, and is looked after by the Parish Council as trustee. The club is the only place to drink in Wethersfield.

Sunday 6th July 2014 is Wethersfield Fun Day, and the festivities will continue into Monday 7th July, for the Tour de France, with a big screen to watch the stage in the club. According to Essex CC's Tour site, there be a French-themed cafe and stalls on the village green. There'll also be Tour de France parking on Wethersfield sports field.

Shalford

George Inn, Shalford

Shalford is a village of about 750 residents in the Braintree district of Essex. 

The Parish Council says it has a primary school, village shop, Village Hall and playing fields. There's also St Andrew's church, and the George Inn.

There's to be camping on the playing fields by Shalford Village Hall on the night of Sunday 6th July, so campers can be ready to watch the Tour de France pass by on Monday 7th. There's also Tour de France camping at Great Saling, half way between Shalford and Rayne, and parking at Great Saling Village Hall.

Rayne

The Swan, Rayne

Rayne is a village in the Braintree district of Essex, with a population of 2,096 (2011 census). 

Rayne is on the Roman road Stane Street, which linked Colchester (Camulodonum), the first capital of Roman Britain, and St Albans (Verulanium). At the time of the Domesday Book (1086), Rayne was lumped together with Braintree as part of the Manor of Rayne Hall, which was mainly a sheep farm. In 1199, Braintree was granted a royal charter for a market, and separated from Rayne. In the 1500s, rayne-info says that life centred around the village's three manor houses - Old Hall, Rayne Hall, and Haverings. There was an iron foundry in Rayne from the 1820s (initially making agricultural machinery such as ploughs) until 2001. 

The oldest part of All Saints church, Rayne, is the tower, which dates from 1510, although there has been a church on the site since Saxon times (the 600s). The rest of the church dates from 1840.

Pubs in Rayne include the Swan and the Welsh Princess.

Rayne is on National Cycle Network route 16 between Stansted and Braintree, also known as the Flitch Way, which uses the trackbed of the old railway. 

Felsted

The Chequers, Felsted

Felsted is a village in the district of Uttlesford, and the county of Essex, on the north bank of the river Chelmer, and not far from Great Dunmow. It has a population of 1,315 (2011 census). The name comes from fell (hill) and stede (place). In the Domesday Book, it was called Felesteda, and was part of the land of La Trinité de Caen.

Felsted School is perhaps the most famous feature of the village. It was founded by Richard Lord Rich in 1564, three years before his death. (He is buried in the Holy Cross church). Originally, the school was in a converted Guildhall in the centre of the village, but subsequently buildings were erected specifically for the school. 

Oliver Cromwell is associated with Felsted School. He knew Martin Holbeach, the Headmaster, from Cambridge, and he married a Felstedian. Cromwell sent his four sons to the school. 

Felsted School has a history of producing good cricketers, including Trevor Bailey and Derek Pringle.

Employers in the area were Ridleys Brewery (at Hartford End, to the south), and the sugar beet factory (which was to the west, in Little Dunmow, from 1926 to 1999).

The oldest part of Felsted church is the Norman tower, dating from 1140. Felsted has a village shop, Argyll House B&B, the Chequers pub and the Swan Inn.

Essex CC's Tour de France site says there'll be parking in Felsted, and there may be Tour de France camping on Felsted playing fields.

Great Waltham

Langleys manor house, Great Waltham

Great Waltham is a village on Walthambury Brook, in the Chelmsford district of Essex. It is overlooked by a mansion called Langleys, which has private gardens, and woodland and parkland with public footpaths across it. Great Waltham is a large Parish, with several hamlets including Howe Street. The population of Great Waltham is 847 (2011 census). 

There were some Roman buildings in the area, and the site of Great Waltham may have been a vineyard in Roman times. Roman coins were found at the ford. The name 'Waltham' is Saxon, though, 'walt' meaning 'wood', and 'ham' meaning farm or homestead.

The people here traditionally worked in agriculture. It is still a farming area (according to alansmeccano.org), producing potatoes, wheat, barley, and oil seed rape, but these days most inhabitants are commuters.

The Parish website says Great Waltham is twinned with Ceyrat, in the Auvergne region of France.

Great Waltham has a primary school, church (of St Mary & St Lawrence), a cricket club, and the Rose & Crown (which says it will be celebrating the Tour) and Beehive pubs.

Essex County Council says that for the Tour de France, there will be refeshments at Duffries Close, and a pop-up pub in the village hall.

Roxwell

St Michael & All Angels church, Roxwell   Shop and Post Office, Roxwell

Roxwell is a village in the district of Chelmsford and the county of Essex. It has a C14th church (St Michael & All Angels), the Chequers Inn, a primary school, and a village Post Office and store.

Roxwell is having a Community Games Tour de France celebration on Sunday 6th July, and Monday 7th July 12-3pm. There'll be volleyball, carpet bowls, and cycle rides of different lengths on the Tour route. Also, under the guidance of a local sculptor, there's a project to make a giant bicycle out of straw bales.

Shellow Bowells

The name Shellow Bowells comes from the Scheuele manor, scheule referring to a winding stream, and Bowells to the Bueles, or Bouelles, family, according to foxearth.org. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086). (Bowells is pronounced 'bowls').

The former church is now a dwelling. Shellow Bowells is in the Parish of Willingale.

Shellow Bowells is the first settlement on the Tour route in Epping Forest district. Epping Forest District Council says the roads to the north of the A414 Talbot roundabout will close at 8am; south of the roundabout, the roads through North Weald Bassett, Epping, and down to Buckhurst Hill, will close at 9am. The target re-opening time is 5pm.

Fyfield

Fyfield village sign   Queen's Head, Fyfield

According to Fyfield village's website, the name Fyfield comes from the Saxon word fyfe, which means (as anyone might guess) five, and hyde, which was the amount of land which could be ploughed in a single day with a team of oxen. It was first mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), when Fyfield was recorded as having a water mill.

Fyfield is on the river Roding, 2 miles north of Chipping Ongar, and was traditionally an agricultural village. It has a fine village sign, made out of oak, and displaying an image of St Nicholas' church, and the Fyfield pea, a flower associated with the village. 

Fyfield Hall is a very old building, dating from the C12th. It once belonged to Lord Scrope of Masham, the Lord of the Manor. The church of St Nicholas also dates from the C12th.

There are two pubs in Fyfield - the Queen's Head and the Black Bull.

For the Tour de France in Fyfield, there'll be parking for motor homes and caravans at Fyfield Village Hall (£10); car parks (locations to be announced, at the time of writing); the pubs and the village shop will be open all day; there'll be a BBQ at the village hall; and children's activities are to be put on at the bus stop outside the Queen's Head. (You have to wonder if there isn't a better place for children's activities than a bus stop, but maybe this one is de luxe and spacious!)

Moreton

Moreton church   White Hart, Moreton

Moreton is a village in the district of Epping Forest, and the county of Essex. It is on Cripsey Brook, a tributary of the river Roding.

It was on the route of the Roman Road from Great Dunmow to London, and there was a bridge over the Cripsey Brook here in Roman times.

Moreton has a primary school, St Mary's church, and two pubs - the White Hart and the Nag's Head.

Traditionally, most residents of Moreton worked in agriculture. There is still a mill (Moreton Mill), a couple of miles to the north of the village, but most people now commute to Harlow, Chelmsford, or London.

Essex County Council say that there will be parking in Bridge Road, Moreton, for the Tour, and this will be accessible from the A414.

North Weald Bassett

King's Head, North Weald Bassett   North Weald airfield

North Weald Bassett is a village in the district of Epping Forest, and the county of Essex. Weald refers to woodland, and Bassett comes from Philip Bassett, lord of the manor from 1260. It has a population of 4,477 (2011 census). The Parish includes the hamlet of Tyler's Green, which the Tour also passes through.

North Weald Airfield (formerly RAF North Weald, and active as a fighter station during World War II; now owned and run by Epping Forest DC) and North Weald Golf Course are adjacent to the village. It is close to the M11, and the town of Harlow.

Essex County Council says that there'll be Tour de France parking at North Weald airfield, including overnight campervan and caravan parking; and Tour de France parking at Tole House Field.

Epping

Church, Epping High Street   Black Lion, Epping

Epping is a market town in the district of Epping Forest and the county of Essex. Its population is 10,289 (2011 census). The market is on Mondays, and dates back to 1253. Epping sausages have been made here by Church's butchers since 1888.

A community called Epinga was mentioned in the Domesday Book, but this was to the north of present-day Epping, at Epping Upland. The current town existed as Epping Heath, later Epping Street, from the middle of the 1100s. 

In the 1800s, a number of stage coaches and mail coaches passed through Epping, which was on the route from London to Norwich, Cambridge, and Bury St Edmonds. There were coaching inns on the High Street, including the George & Dragon and the Black Lion, which survive today.

Winston Churchill was MP for Epping from 1924 to 1945.

Today, Epping is a market town, mainly inhabited by commuters. Although close to London, it has a certain rural charm, by virtue of Epping Forest. 

Epping is at the start of the Essex Way, a long distance path between Epping and Harwich.

Epping Forest DC says there could be as many as 20,000 people in Epping for the Tour de France on Monday 7th July. Epping St John's School has been identified for car parking by Essex CC (bookings only). The day's intermediate sprint takes place on Epping High Street.

Epping Forest

Epping Forest

Epping Forest is ancient woodland - continuously forested since Neolithic times - formerly part of the Royal Forest of Waltham. Part of the forest is in Essex, and part in London. It is managed by the Corporation of London.

It is on a ridge of high land between the valleys of the rivers Roding and Lea. The soil is alluvial clay, sand and gravel, laid down by the Thames in ages past. There is woodland, open grazing, and ponds.

There are forest visitor centres in Epping Forest - High Beach, Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge & The View, and The Temple (Wanstead Park).

According to legend, highwayman Dick Turpin at one time hid out in Epping Forest, in Turpin's Cave.

Walthamstow

A104, London, between Leyton & Walthamstow

Walthamstow was historically part of Essex. Since 1965, it has formed part of Greater London. In the C11th, its name was recorded as Wilcumestowe, or Wilcumestou (Domesday Book, 1086), meaning place of welcome.

It was largely rural until the C19th, when it began to develop, and the population swelled. At the start of the C20th, buses were built at premises in Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, by the London General Omnibus Company.

Walthamstow market has existed since 1885. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday, and is said to be the longest street market in Europe.

Famous Walthamstow residents include William Morris, and the 1990s boy band East 17 (named after their postcode).

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

London Olympic Park

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park was the main venue at the London 2012 Olympics. Following the Games, it closed, and re-opened to the public in April 2014 (see the Park's timeline). The stadium is due to open next for the Rugby World Cup in 2015, then from 2016 it will host West Ham United and athletics events.

The river Lea runs through the park. The Olympic venues within the park are the Olympic stadium, the Aquatics centre, the Copper Box arena, the Lee Valley Velo Park (the Olympic velodrome and remodelled BMX track, plus a one-mile floodlit road race circuit, and 8km of mountain bike trails), and the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis centre (opening June 2014). The venues are shown on the Olympic Park map.

There are cafes at some of the venues, plus the Timber Lodge Cafe near the Tumbling Bay playground, and the East Twenty Bar and Kitchen at The Podium. There's a good deal of parkland with play areas and climbing walls. The Sponsorship Omitted twisty tower is open, and it costs £15 for adults to go up.

Orbit tower   Olympic velodrome