8 May 2020

8 May 2020: VE Day ride to Buntingford

Unusual Coronavirus conditions found Steve and me cycling out alone on a glorious day last Friday.
We initially cycled east to Hertford via Essendon.
Would you believe Essendon?
Hertingfordbury had also made an effort with their decorations.
We carried on via the roads to Ware where we'd heard Simmons had opened up some of their shops again. I queued up for coffee and cake, and as you can see it was a popular place. I'm about sixth in the queue in the photo next to the red arrow.
Queuing in Ware
As we'd bought coffee in a take-away cup we were pleased to find a seat at the back of Barclay's car park opposite, near the river, just a short wheel away.
Rickety seat
We left Ware using Poles Lane bridleway and road behind Hanbury Manor hotel to get to Thundridge, then used the bridleway though Youngsbury from Wadesmill to High Cross which is all tarmac road apart from the first 50 yards or so; glorious parkland to meander through. Just before Puckeridge, on the cycle route to avoid the A10/A120 roundabout, we found several slag-heap sized piles of chippings ready for Herts Highways to spread on the roads.
There were several piles like this!
Taking advantage of the lack of traffic we ventured north of Puckeridge north alongside the A10 to turn left to Westmill near Hamels Park golf club. In fact we could ride on a pavement all the way to the junction and there was a refuge to cross the A10 so we could use this route in busier times too. We saw a huge queue at Pearce's farm shop even though the cafe is currently closed. Our destination for picnic lunch was a church on the edge of Buntingford and Steve rode into the churchyard of Layston church looking for a seat before a passer-by told me it was a private residence now. It had been a ruin and was recently renovated at great expense. The "journal" pages of the link above show the most interesting pictures.
Private residence now
We found a seat in the adjacent still-used graveyard and when we left we were delighted to see lots of Alpacas some of whom had had a lockdown haircut. The owner of Herts Alpacas said he had about 100 and bred them for export to Europe
See the clipper markings!
We took a route back via Throcking, Cromer, Walkern, Bragbury End and had a banana stop in Datchworth, passing many VE Day parties on the driveways and pavements en-route. We got back home at about 5pm and joined several neighbours sitting 2m apart on the road in our quiet cul-de-sac for our VE Day celebrations.
Map below of our route - about 58 miles.

Carol B

5 May 2020

Exploring Panshanger Park

Panshanger Park is being transformed into a retreat for wildlife and people now that Tarmac have finished extracting tons of gravel from this 1000 acre site to the west of Hertford. It's somewhere I've bypassed many times but never been in. So, thanks to a tip from Adam of WelHat Cycling, I decided to explore some of the bridleways and a new cycleway in the park. 

Thanks are due to the Friends of Panshanger Park for working on these new routes.

West-East Route

The main cycleable route runs right across the park, between Panshanger Lane and Thieves Lane. Download PDF map.

Entrance to West-East bridleway off Panshanger Lane
A short length of new bridleway leads from Panshanger Lane down an easy slope through woodland. This is still quite new and not fully consolidated, but quite rideable.

15 March 2020

15 Mar 2020: Wheathampstead to Wadesmill

Who would have known this was to be the final formal South Herts ride for the foreseeable future! Coronavirus spreading has now enforced the end of our official Sunday rides.

Anyway five stalwarts turned up for the start in Wheathampstead, and we headed on a fairly direct route north through Ayot St Lawrence, Whitwell and Willian before reaching Dimples cafe at the small golf club on the edge of Letchworth. The seating had been replaced with some rather stylish fifties-style chairs and somehow the conversation turned away from the usual chain rings and sprockets to soft furnishings. I remarked we were getting some new curtains made and suddenly Steve H astounded us with tales of his own haberdashery efforts to make his own! I questioned the quality of the result and you can see below the comparison of John Lewis' pinch pleats vs Steve H's "pencil" pleats achieved with rufflette tape. I must admit I'd describe Steve's as a panel when the curtain is closed, certainly not the minimum two and a half widths of fabric!
John Lewis left, Steve H right
After coffee we headed east through Weston then south via Walkern (where we saw Richard out alone for a short ride heading north) to Benington where we stopped to admire the spring daffodils.
Benington daffodils
It didn't take long to get to the Anchor pub via Whempstead then after a stiff climb up to Sacombe we descended to Wadesmill. Ronny had peeled off near Dane End as he needed to get home early. A wise move as after lunch Katy had a puncture in the pub garden which meant by the time we left the rain had started. We ended up taking the most direct route back to St Albans via Hertford and Steve H left us at Stony Hills to take a more northerly route back to Wheathampstead. I got noticed soft tyre near WGC but Steve pumped it up and it lasted till we arrived home.
Thanks to Steve H for a good route and let's hope we can keep in touch over the next few months and all keep healthy.

We did just under 60 miles door to door - route below