Meeting in Hertford for a change, we had a slightly longer than usual first leg ride to the coffee stop to do, so a reasonably direct route seemed called for. Heading through Stony Hills and Sacombe Park we continued through the villages to Buntingford. Then passing through Wyddial, a slow climb brought us to Barkway and a turn along the ridge to Reed and its ever popular, and very cheap, Silver Ball cafe – the bikers' favourite. Tea is 80p and there's a special shelf for patrons' helmets. The lady looked askance when I asked for brown bread, they don't do that poncey stuff.
We fleetingly bumped into the Stort Valley CTC group also seeking cheap and cheerful refreshment. Continuing on our way, we passed through the pleasant village of Therfield, for those of a certain generation - the manor house was once the home of a member of the Pink Floyd. Then we descended to cross, with care, the A505. A series of quiet and flat lanes brought us to our pub stop at Croydon, a nice venue in a very off-the-beaten-track Cambridgeshire village.
The return leg took us along the flat route to Ashwell and then a long climb to re-cross the A505 and on to Cromer. Here, turning past the windmill, we were soon in Ardeley and the cafe at Church Farm. How different, how very different, to our morning stop this was. Vases of pleasing herbs and fresh flowers adorned the tablecloths (tablecloths!). Still that sort of thing does not come cheap! An enjoyable stop though. Now it was just a matter of taking the quiet lanes through Dane End to either get back to cars left in Hertford or head back to Welwyn and Hatfield.