14 December 2014

14 Dec 2014: Hatfield to Potters Bar

Hertford. Would we make it to that destination, on a rather icy morning? To be honest I wasn’t really expecting anyone to come out when I left my home, as the road beneath me sparkled and crunched in a rather delightful way.

outside the cafe
The elusive Broadway Cafe in Potters Bar
But I did attract one customer and that was Richard, so the pair of us set off on a careful ride. Now Hatfield to Potters Bar is a staggeringly awesome mileage of 7 miles: not really stretching it is it? So I managed to work out a wiggly route that covered 18 miles, and most of them were icy. We headed out via Green Lanes and up over Woodcock Hill, dropping down into Jersey Farm, then we wobbled up through Oaklands College (I’m slightly envious of sheep and their warm, woolly coats).

Soon enough we hit the outskirts of St Albans and I chose to power on through and take Napsbury by surprise, when most of the natives were still in their beds.  In the more built up areas ice was not a problem, but as soon as we were on the quiet lanes slushy ice was everywhere and strangely enough, there was a lot of running water as well.

We headed towards Shenley, and were well warmed up as we tackled Black Lion Hill, named because there aren’t any Black Lions in the area at all. Then we took to the lanes and followed a lovely meandering route sandwiched between major roads (M25 and A1M). This widdly (sic) winding lane takes us into Ridge and down into Trotters Bottom. Leaving Trotters Bottom is a nice leisurely climb. Then we were in Potters Bar and we zoooooooomed straight past the café: I could have sworn it was the other side of the bridge. I couldn’t find the bloody café anywhere but after making enquiries we were directed back the way we came. It’s a good café and had an added extra as Stuart was waiting for us.

Even though it was heating up we called it a day at this point; one of our party had a rather chesty cough and I wanted to see him back home OK.
Neil 14/12/2014

7 December 2014

07 Dec 2014: St Albans to Woodside

Not many daylight hours at this time of year, so this ride was quite short. The weather forecast was rain in the morning and sunny in the afternoon, which was not too far from the truth. Starting in St Albans we followed what turned out to a somewhat cultural tour of Hertfordshire.  Heading towards Sandridge via Valley Road and Sandridgebury Lane we crossed Beech Bottom Dyke, thought to have been built by King Cunobelinus (subject of the Shakespeare play - "Cymbeline") during the Iron Age as part of defences that stretched between the rivers Lea and Ver. Then we rode through Sandridge and along the old Roman Road to Welwyn, where planting more trees is extending Heartwood Forest, although we were hard pressed to see any. Turning left we crossed through Nomansland Common and over the River Lea at Leasey Bridge. Then we ascended to Gustard Wood and took a quiet lane to Ayot St Lawrence to see George Bernard Shaw’s house and the ruined Church. 

group at church
The church in Ayot St Lawrence
Bridge over the B653

Then it was down the hill and left to Kimpton Mill, where we crossed the River Mimram at some watercress beds towards Whitwell. The weather decided to show us who was boss here and the result was a rush to get out of the rain in Emily’s café, which was packed with cyclists as usual. Dried out in the cafe then we headed up the hill to Bendish and through Peters Green to pick up the Cycle Path towards Luton along the Lea Valley.  The cycle path is very pleasant and there are steel cutout statues of the comedian Eric Morecambe and Capability Brown the designer of the gardens at Luton Hoo.  

Statues on NCR6 near Luton
Mike posing as Eric Morecambe

Reaching the edge of Luton we followed the cycle paths towards the town centre and took a left up a long and very steep Cutenhoe Road and into Stockwood Park, where we managed to avoid the Christmas fair. I was hoping to take the cycle path to Woodside but it looked too steep and muddy so we took a short detour to Farley Hill, crossed under the M1 and headed to the Plough at Woodside.  We got to the Plough in time to miss an afternoon shower as a front came over.  After lunch it had turned colder and we headed to Harpenden via Pepperstock and Kinsbourne Green.

Mike 07/12/2014