3 April 2011

03 Apr 2011: St Albans to Ivinghoe

Another chilly morning when we set off from St Albans, first stop was to be coffee at Hudnall Corner Cafe.  As a change from the maybe more usual way of getting to this area, we headed off through Sandridge, Nomansland and at Leasey Bridge turned onto the path along the old railway for a few miles.  An excellent path, giving a nice aspect of the upper Lea valley, apart, that is, from the uncompleted section at the back of the sewage works.  Climbing out of the valley up a long drag of a hill, we headed for Markyate.  Would we need to wait at the top of the hill for our new rider, Esther?  No - she soon went past on her bike with the shopping basket on the bars.  Crossing the main Luton road and then passing under the M1, we mistook our lane into Markyate and finished up at the one with the nasty ford (sometimes impassable).  Neil was the first to brave it.  The water was deep enough to be a problem anyway, but then he hit a hidden pothole and had to put his feet down in the stream (shame the camera was not at the ready).  The rest of us crossed without a wetting, apart from Eric who decided go another way.  

Passing through Markyate we headed out on the Whipsnade road, turning to Studham and, crossing the common there, descending down to the River Gade and Hudnall Corner cafe.  It was Mothers' Day and we were keen to get to lunch early to avoid possible problems with crowds of partygoers at the pub, but the cafe was full of bikers - the hairy sort - and we had to wait ages.  By the time we finally got back on the road again, time was really getting on, so it seemed an idea to cut the route to lunch a bit shorter.  So, climbing to Hudnall, we headed north to Ringshall and then down the beacon to Ivinghoe village.  

Ivinghoe village

Not very far, but it was already past 12.30 and the pub was busy.  However, it was just about warm enough to sit very pleasantly in the garden with our food and drinks.  After lunch, we had a nice ride down to Aldbury.  Then climbing up to Wigginton, we followed the road towards Chesham.  Turning to Ashley Green, we wound through the lanes to Bovingdon, then down one of the three parallel lanes that drop down the hill to Hemel.  The tea stop at Shirella's Cafe was a new venue for us and we struggled to find it.  It had been recommended by Jon, and when I saw the prices I understood why - very reasonable.  Our initial group was now quite a bit reduced as people had headed off to their own homes during the day, but there was still a band who needed to get back to St Albans.  Through Hemel and up one of the Bedmond direction lanes, we looped through the Gorhambury estate, pausing for a photo opportunity by the ruins of old Gorhambury.  And so back into St Albans.  A really enjoyable day's cycling, but with timing somewhat messed by things beyond our control.

At Gorhambury


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