So seven of us gathered in the car park at Asda in Hatfield for the start. First stop was to be the Hitchin Kitchen which, strangely enough, is in Hitchin. Two of the party set off on their own as they wanted a reasonably flat ride. The rest of us headed off via Lemsford and ground our way uphill on the old A1 to Ayot Green. Here Neil sensibly decided to go back home as he was feeling unwell. We were concerned that he would be OK, but as he only had to go back down the hill and into Hatfield where he lived we thought he should be alright. Then we headed on down towards Codicote Bottom and on the way, out of the mist, a small herd of deer ran across the lane just in front of us. Next we turned right at Kimpton Mill with its watercress beds. Then meandered across country using very quiet lanes, which were almost eerie in the mist, climbing slowly towards Preston. From there, apart from some undulations, it was downhill all the way through Gosmore and into Hitchin. Past its busy market and soon we were at the Hitchin Kitchen, where one of our regular riders was already ensconced. Now this busy café is a proper British ‘caff’, with a good range of super breakfasts and very reasonable prices. This despite, or maybe because, it is apparently run by very hard working Eastern Europeans.
Having received a text from Neil saying he had got home OK, we could think about the next leg. The lunch stop was to be Aston, which is actually quite close, so to ensure we built up a proper appetite a hilly roundabout route was chosen, (while some opted for the flatter route using Stevenage cycleways). Off through the northern suburbs of Hitchin, through Willian and down towards Baldock. Having gone down, it was now up with a vengeance alongside Weston Hill. I remarked to one of the others that we didn’t often come this way, which invited the retort that this wasn’t surprising given how ‘xxxxxx’ steep it was. This route now crosses the new Baldock bypass, the A505 with a bridge. From here into the village of Weston and then on via Hall’s Green, skirting well to the west of Stevenage and down to Walkern. We were still a bit early for lunch, so a diversionary loop was put in going further east from Walkern, up to a quite remote hamlet called Bassus Green with it’s ancient cottages. Then back down to the Walkern road again and on to Aston. Here we went into the Rose and Crown. This seemed a very pleasant pub serving excellent sandwiches and a special offer on beer at £2 a pint which is too good to miss despite it being McMullens.
Ready for a cold ride home
Passing early daffodils on Essendon Road
After lunch it was back on the bikes and a quick return to the start at Hatfield via Tewin and WGC. The overall distance start to finish was about 45 miles. It had been a cold but dry day with virtually no wind, so all in all not a bad day’s ride.