25 November 2018

25 Nov 2018: Hatfield to Shepall (Stevenage)

Steve B noticed his front tyre was flat just as we were leaving the house at 8:40 to cycle to the Hatfield start. He decided to stay and fix the puncture while I cycled to the Asda start. We were amazed that he actually turned up just after 9:10 so it had been a fast inner-tube change. We took a wiggly route south and west through Bullen's Green and Brookman's Park to start with before heading to Rose Café via Bayford and Brickendon. Arriving at 10:40 all eight of us ordered and were served within 5 minutes! This must be a record for fast service in a café.

Afterwards we took the park route out of Hertford, then went via Stoneyhills, Stapleford and over to Woolmer Green.

We climbed up and over the A1 motorway through the picturesque Mardleyheath nature reserve, before meandering north, crossing the A1 several times again to reach the edge of Stevenage by the old Roebuck Inn. Remarkably we reached the pub by cycling about 1/4 mile along quiet roads then the old Shepall Lane which is now a pleasant cycle path next to a park, and where we saw a black squirrel, which took us straight to the the old Sheppall village, now surrounded by urban Stevenage.

The Red Lion pub has had a refurbishment since we last visited, and we sat in a room with a bicycle theme. There were many photos and pictures of bikes, and some saddles and handlebars arranged to look like the deer antlers more usually seen in a pub.
Bike trophies!

Unfortunately as we left Steve B had another flat so the group went on ahead and we stayed behind to fix it at the pub. It was easy to find as there was a huge flint sticking through the tyre. As the photo shows, you would not know you are surrounded by modern Stevenage here.
Second one of the day
We ended up getting back at about 3.20 pm just as it was beginning to get dark after covering about 48 miles.


24 November 2018

24 Nov 2018: Hatfield to Hertford

Eight of us met for a morning’s ride over to Hertford, it was an overcast morning and some of us had experienced rain getting here, but we were glad we squeezed another fun ride in before winter. Suitably enough a fun fair was being set up in Hatfield Market Square and they were getting ready for turning on Christmas lights that night, so it all made for a colourful sight.

Dorris and Steve
Jean, John and Julie
This ride was going along some very familiar roads, but riding at this time of year can be tricky, you can never be sure of what the roads are actually like. Silky/rough/icy/full of leaves it’s Hobson’s choice, luckily for us they were OK and quite pleasant to use.

We took a slightly busy A1000 out of Hatfield and quickly left it at the Mill Green turn off to cycle up the path that meets the 414 and then back onto Gypsy Lane through the golf course, navigating the suburbs of WGC to get ourselves to Panshanger. We took the scenic route through the bottom of Tewin and headed out to Bramfield, everywhere looking suitably autumnal, with a lot of colour on show.
Jean leading on the hill to Tewin
Jon and Judy
From Bramfield we took the winding back road into Hertford, this is a nice route that gradually undulates with a drop at the end of it, getting onto the busy main road at Hertford North proved to be problematic, but after some waiting we all made it. Next it was a trip through a park then on to Rose Café.  I needed to check this place out as this café has bravely fought developers and have not been closed like all other shops around them.

After a lovely stop for brunch/snacks we made our way back out of Hertford via the lower Hatfield road for a bit before taking St Mary’s Lane which leads up to Hertingfordbury, a lovely road that has some great views, one of which being a lot of sheep in a wooded area (I think they must have escaped from a neighbouring field). We took our usual route from Hertingfordbury to the Old Coach Road, at Letty Green we said good bye to John and Judy (who headed back to Barnet). We joined The Cole Green Way to get back into WGC then made our way over to Ascots Lane, the A1000 and back to Hatfield.

A really good morning’s ride.
Neil 24/11/2018

18 November 2018

18 Nov 2018: St Albans to Woodside, near Luton

Middle of November -   good forecast - fine, sunny but a bit colder than of late. So there were five of us at the start in St Albans about to head west to our first stop in Berkhamstead. First minor problem was St Albans council had decided (somewhat prematurely in my opinion) to close the High St for an all day festival prior to switching on the Xmas lights that evening. Note my opening sentence that it was the middle of November! However a quick diversion down side streets took us via the Cathedral and Verulamium Park onto the quiet lanes leading to Bedmond. From there down to Kings Langley and then more lanes until we reached the Bovingdon road. Around Bovingdon to Whelpley Hill and the countryside was improving all the time as we dived down a narrow steep and twisting hill before climbing up the other side to cross the A41 and enter Berkhamstead through its western suburbs. Then, great joy, as we came to “The Crown”, a fine old inn in the High St now part of the Weatherspoon empire with all that that promises in terms of bargain prices for value food and drink.
At “The Crown” we were met by Mark who had cycled there direct from St Albans. Now it was onwards to the east to get to Woodside just south of Luton for lunch. As anticipated this was to involve a lot of climbing. First it was out of Berkhamstead past the ruins of its castle. (History note: this was one of the first Norman castles built in England and was where the English formally submitted to the conquering Normans after the battle of Hastings.) 
Berkhamsted castle ruins

Then  ever upwards through the wooded Ashridge estate, beautiful in the sunshine. Followed by a long fast downhill to Hudnall followed by an inevitable long climb back up again. Through Studham to Markyate and another climb, before looping around near Caddington to end at “The Plough” near Slip End. This is a non-pretentious pub which serves excellent grub at realistic prices. 
Leaving “The Plough” we used back lanes to Harpenden, then a slight diversion through the common there before taking the cycle path alongside the main road back to St. Albans. 
East Common, Harpenden

All told the total distance had been about 42 miles, and all agreed it had been an excellent cycling day for the time of year.


11 November 2018

11 Nov 2018: Hatfield to Wareside

Gotta admit when I awoke for this ride the skies were teeming with rain and looking out the window I saw it was quite windswept as well, but as the morning got underway the rain stopped and stayed stopped.
Five of us met at Asda in Hatfield and met a new Sunday rider, Dimo. We took a familiar route out of Hatfield. Lemsford/WGC and up Harmer Green Lane. 
Harmer Green
Here we stopped for a breather and directed the police who were looking for a fallen tree opposite the train station (which is on New Road). Whilst cycling down to Woolmer Green we zipped past the delightfully named Robbery Bottom Lane (we must go up there again sometime). I must say the trees were looking resplendent in all their autumnal glory. We passed Datchworth and headed down the road to Watton-at-Stone, something we haven’t done for a while, as we are usually going up that road. We also took in the full length of Mill Lane (quite often we would turn off this road); the end of this lane is quite pleasant and meets the Whempstead road. 

From here we took a direct route to the golf club but at the bottom of the hill our newest rider copped a puncture.

We had a lovely leisurely break in the club discovered a broken chair and generally enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere. Our route to Wareside was very much like our route to the first break, all familiar roads but taken in a different order, the skies by this time though had taken on a deep blue colour and the wind was doing all it can to make things blustery. We headed up to Haultwick and then back on ourselves to head for the crossing at Nasty. It’s a nice little jaunt down to the A10 on this road but just before we get there a little farmer’s road takes us onto the A10 roundabout. On this concrete track Carol had the misfortune of suffering a mechanical problem. We decided to navigate the roundabout and stop in the next village to see to the fault in a quiet carpark where the diagnosis was a front disc pad had fallen out.
After this we made good headway to Much Hadham and a more direct route to Wareside arriving very late at 1.30pm. The pub carpark was packed and inside was quite busy as well but we got served very promptly and lunch was really pleasant, nice herby and tasty sausages. After lunch it was Babbs Green/ Ware/Hertford and home. It was a really pleasant day’s ride.


Carol's note: We found out later that two others had gone to the pub but left before we arrived.

4 November 2018

4 Nov 2018: St Albans to Mangrove Green

Five riders assembled outside The Blacksmiths Arms for the 9.15 departure before heading out towards Sandridge and Nomansland common. We crossed the busy Lower Luton Road, then climbed up via Mackerye End before heading back west across Harpenden and Kinsbourne Green to reach Markyate at about 10.45. Dugs Mugs cafe wasn't very busy so we were served quickly.

Eamonn left the group to return home and the rest of us carried on to the lunch stop. On the corner of Wesley Road and the High Street we spotted a new pub called "The Local". A man was gardening in what we thought was next door's garden but it turned out he was the owner of the pub and he kindly invited us in to have a look around.  It is open only in the evenings and serves gravity-fed beer from the barrel as well as from bottles.
Inside "The Local"
Outside "The Local"
We went to Mangrove Green via Slip End and West Hyde then used the small country lanes to skirt round the end of Luton airport runway to reach the refurbished George IV pub where we were welcomed and served with good-value food. Richard joined us at the pub having been unable to wrench himself from his bed in time to reach the start.

There was a beautiful oak tree on the green to provide a backdrop to the photo as the group left to return to St Albans via Lilley Bottom and Kimpton. We were home by 3.40 on a pleasantly warm Sunday for the time of year.
Oak tree at Mangrove Green

I think we covered about 46 miles on the round trip.

Carol 4/11/18