Amazing what a lie-in can do. With our winter later start at 10:30 am, twelve people turned up at Jenny’s in Hatfield for a coffee before the actual cycling bit.
Anyway the lunch destination was The Anchor pub in Wadesmill, about 12 miles to the east. In order to make sure we all got enough exercise a more devious route was required. So we started due south to Welham Green and then to the infamous Essendon Hill, although this time we were going down and not up. Then it was Letty Green and a diversion through the pretty back lanes there, until we emerged onto ‘The Old Coach Road’ to Hertford, where we swung around to Hertford North station. From here we climbed up to Bengeo through its interesting back streets. It was here at Pest House that a Dr Dimsdale developed the smallpox vaccine with which he variolated Empress Catherine of Russia. At the top it’s a bit of a plateau with an easy run through open countryside towards Sacombe. However here the easy bit finishes with a very steep and difficult climb uphill to High Cross on the old A10.
The pub is only about a mile away from here and actually downhill into Wadesmill. Now the original plan at this point was to put in a loop to the east of about 6 miles going to Barwick Ford to see the river in spate and then through the beautiful countryside around Cold Christmas and Thundridge. However time was getting on, much energy had been expended climbing the Sacombe hill and the general consensus was enough was enough, we had done about 19 miles and it was time to head straight to the pub. So down the hill we went to The Anchor, passing the spot where, in June 1785, Thomas Clarkson resolved to devote his life to bringing about the abolition of the slave trade.
The core of the Anchor is very old and the layout is higgledy piggeldy – so very interesting. And they serve good food. After that it was back to Hatfield for most of us by a direct route. It had been a dry but chilly day with some sunshine to lift the spirits, with an overall distance of about 27/28 miles. That is apart from those who had cycled to the start and back to their homes, who had done considerably more.
PS: An honorable mention must go to Neil and Vish, who ventured out last Sunday and despite the best attempts of the Hertfordshire lanes to block their route with floods, actually reached the pub at Caddington only to find it wasn't doing any food.