26 May 2019

26 May 2019: Hatfield to Nuthampstead

At the start in Hatfield we thought we might have some new riders join us, but only one turned up, an existing CUK member called Rob, which meant we had a party of six.  Our first stop was to be in Much Hadham and, anticipating that there might have been new riders, I had planned as flat a route as possible. So we started out westwards along the Cole Green Way to Hertford, then followed the Lee navigation towpath to Ware. From there a gentle climb up through the suburbs of Ware and we were out in open countryside. We went  through Babbs Green and on using  very quiet lanes across more open country in the sunshine to Much Hadham. A bit further brought us to Ash Valley Golf Club, a low key friendly place for a bite to eat and coffee. There we were joined by Steve and Jackie who had ridden there to join us, but who went back when we went on to our lunch venue.

Route check at Washall Green
Originally lunch was to have been at the Bull near Langley, but having discovered that they weren’t doing any food I had switched to the Woodman at Nuthampstead. So from elevenses we headed north through the Pelhams and skirted Anstey to get there. It was a beautiful route with virtually no traffic and idyllic countryside. The Woodman is an interesting pub as it is adjacent to a former WW2 US air force bomber base and has much commemorative information on display. There we were met by Adrian who had ridden directly there from his home. I was pleased to meet him as he would be able to lead us to our tea stop at Rushden as it is an area he knows far better than I.

By now it had started to rain so we stayed in the pub as long as possible before having to move on. The countryside was still idyllic but seems less so when one is being rained on and facing a head wind. However we reached the nursery at Rushden, where we put our bikes out of the rain in one of their poly-tunnels whilst having tea in another.

On leaving, Adrian headed off homeward, whilst we headed due south with a fine view of Cromer windmill before reaching Walkern. From there it was still southwards via Aston, Datchworth and Tewin, then into WGC and back to the start at Hatfield. From there many of the party still had to get themselves back to St Albans so they would have done quite a bit more than the 60 miles I logged from start to finish.


19 May 2019

19 May 2019: St Albans to Wing

Another special ride we'd promoted using the Lets Ride website as part of the Sustainable St Albans Festival attracted five newcomers to our group along with Sue who had ridden up from Barnet for the 9am start. Other Sunday regulars were manning a market stall today so missed the ride. We set off via the back roads to Sandridge before crossing Nomansland Common and climbing up to Mackery End where we had a good view of the house before descending to the Lee Valley again to cross Harpenden using the splendid tarmacced Nickey Line. A short cycle on quiet lanes near the M1 brought us to our coffee stop at Harpers farmshop and café. This building used to be pub called the Half Moon. You can see some photos of how it looked in the 60's and before Harpers did the splendid job of rescuing it here

After coffee we made a fairly direct route to lunch at the 33 mile mark in Wing. After an easy climb from Markyate we whizzed down Bison Hill (where sadly there is no longer a Bison visible) onto the plain of Bedfordshire. Good progress brought us to an early quick lunch in the garden at the Cock pub in Wing.  A largely flat and downhill route took us to the group photoshoot outside the gates of Mentmore Towers. History of this Rothschild mansion here. If you are not interested in the history you may be interested in the films that have been shot here.

Mentmore Gates
Our cleverly designed flat route back to Berkhamsted carefully avoiding the edge of the Chiltern Hills  meant we reached Berko at 2.30pm. So rather than stop we just carried on through Hemel and up Hyde Lane to Bedmond before the usual route back into St Albans. A man was spotted petting the cows as if they were small cats or dogs!
Petting the cows!
 After 59 miles we got back early and some of us looked at the market stalls which were still manned for the sustainable week's events.
We all made it back....
Well done everyone and we hope to see you again.

The route is below

Carol & Steve

18 May 2019

18 May 2019: Hatfield to Knebworth

We had a good turnout for the Hatfield ride and welcomed a new rider, really wasn’t too sure of the weather, which I think may have put some off, so I had a rucksack full of extra clothes. Six of us set off for the wilds of Hertfordshire countryside.

We passed through WGC and Panshanger with the greatest of ease, then headed up Archers Green. It was as we were coming into Tewin that I felt the need for a wardrobe change. Off came the light jackets and they stayed off. We spied some very inventive scarecrows as we passed through Tewin (Rose and Crown had a competition going on).
Scarecrows in Tewin
The riding was pleasant and steady. Our new rider was keeping pace and we were a happy little group going through Datchworth, then we went up one of my favourite winding little lanes: Rectory Lane. This little treat goes all over the place and leads to a crossroads that can get you lost if you don’t have your bearings (I know I’ve done it). Not too far from there is the lovely downhill road that leads into Knebworth town. Our stop was to be Coasters, but it was rammed and there was a queue for seating, so I went in search of a new café. I popped into the Simmon’s (next to the delightfully named Ming Che) and found that there was a café around the corner called Vero.

This café was a little find and we were made very welcome, they even set a table out before we had got in there, a return visit will be happening. Whilst there we picked up Steve and Doris, who were late to the start due to house works. The route back was via Rabley Heath, another great network of lanes, then we skipped past Codicote via Cowards Lane and dropped down to Kimpton Bottom, then followed the Codicote Road to the Ayot St Peter turn off.

After going through a very pleasant Ayot we took our usual route back into Hatfield, Sue left us to head into Sherrard’s Park and the rest of us continued home.

Great morning’s cycle ride, next one is in June when we take on Black Lion Hill to get to The tea room in the Orchard.

Neil 18/05/2019

12 May 2019

12 May 2019: St Albans to Naphill

Today's ride was a special one as it had been advertised using the Let's Ride website as part of the Sustainable St Albans Festival. Six people joined us who had not ridden with our group before and there were six others at the start on a sunny spring day. We took a route to Amersham via the usual Bedmond  and Kings Langley lanes, passing by the Green Dragon at Flaunden (reputedly a drinking haunt of Joachim von Ribbentrop & Guy Burgess) before the downhill to Latimer. This was followed by the steep uphill to Little Chalfont before taking a back-road route to the ever reliable Masterchef café. Just before the café we heard Steve and Ian had stopped to fix Ian's puncture. It was good that everyone could cycle at a similar pace even though there were a few hill climbers who shot ahead sometimes.

Steve H dropped in at the café for a chat as he is currently afflicted with sciatica and cannot ride a bike at all. A little behind schedule, 10 people carried on to the lunch stop. We managed to find some small lanes along the way before being well looked after at the Wheel pub in Naphill which is probably closer to High Wycombe than the advertised Princes Risborough.

Outside The Wheel pub, Naphill
After leaving the pub we cycled past RAF strike Command at Walters Ash where we  stopped for a photo in front of a Spitfire and a Hurricane.

RAF Strike-command planes
To reach the afternoon break in Chesham meant climbing over three large hills before the final descent via Pednor. We paused while passing 'Pipers' in The Lee to admire the ship's figurehead of Admiral Lord Howe, taken from the Navy's last wooden warship, HMS Impregnable. The Lee has an interesting history, thanks largely to the influence of Arthur Liberty, who founded Liberty's store in Regent Street.
Admiral Howe

Just as we reached the top of the climb from Chesham I got a puncture so held the group up for a while as Steve fixed it for me. We then had a fairly straightforward route back to St Albans via the pretty Bovingdon Green before going down Ruckler's Lane and up Bunker's Lane. The weary group got back  to St Albans after 61 miles with 3300ft of climbing up and down! We'll done everyone and we hope to see you again.

It was a hilly route!
Route below

Carol 13/05/2019

5 May 2019

05 May 2019: Short circuit

With many of the regular cyclists exploring country lanes abroad and a northern wind cooling down the air to single digit degrees, only one cyclist showed up for the Sunday ride. The sunshine was nice and warm and so they went for a short ride. The photo shows the view over the river Mimram next to Archers Green.

River Mimram
After passing through Burnham Green, Woolmer Green, Codicote, Kimpton, and the outskirts of Harpenden, the tour ended after about 45 km, just as the weather became completely cloudy.

Ronny 05/05/2019

4 May 2019

04 May 2019: St Albans to Wheathampstead

We had another great turnout today and another new rider; the destination was Charlie's in Wheathampstead, so the route was not as long as it could’ve been.

We headed off down the Harpenden Road, which for some reason was very busy, so it was quite a relief to be getting off it at Ayres End. From here we took a detour via East Common and made our way around the golf course then dropped into the back end of Harpenden. Then it was back up and around to meet the other end of Ayres End to shoot down towards Nomansland Common, but before we got there we took on Bull Lane leading us to the junction of the Elephant and Castle. Not long after this we headed into our destination town and Charlie's Café. This establishment soon filled up with 13 of us occupying all the spare seats including the outside tables.

It was quite windy and the rain was threatening all throughout the ride. Our way back featured the hills and rises of Beech Hyde Lane and Coleman Green Lane. We hit Sandridge and made our way back to Jersey Farm via House Lane and from there we got back to the start via Oaklands College. The bouncing lambs were out in force and the alpacas were looking very relaxed.

It’s easy to get confused between llamas, alpacas and vicunas.  Llamas have distinctive banana-shaped ears, alpacas are smaller and have triangular, pointed ears and vicunas are the smallest.

 Llama                                                   Alpaca                                       Vicuna

Neil 04/05/2019