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15 August: Hatfield to Tawney Common

posted 20 Aug 2010, 10:21 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 00:38 ]
Peter writes: On the Saturday preceding the ride it had teemed with rain.  Mindful of this I decided that the ride should be fairly direct lest it teem again, and also try not to go off road in case we got bogged down.  So despite the earlier inauspicious weather, 10 of us turned up at Hatfield and we welcomed new rider James.  The first leg to Dobbs Weir involves going due east from Hatfield and no ride going this way should fail to go past the lions of Paradise Park.  These are real lions (in a rather cramped enclosure) at the aforesaid miniature zoo. 
 Lions at Paradise Park
Dobbs Weir Cafe

The lions seem to spend a lot of their time on a raised platform which means they can be seen easily from the nearby road.  The place is in a wooded area and it always seems slightly incongruous when just cycling along to elevenses, to come across lions in an English wood.  Suitably impressed we carried on to the café at Dobbs Weir.  This is on the river Lee or, more correctly, at this point on the canal.  The weir itself is a pretty place, but more importantly the café is a real gem.  A proper café, selling semi-greasy fry ups if that is what is required.

Thus refuelled the group set off for lunch at ‘The Moletrap’ a delightfully named pub at a place known as Tawney Common in Essex.  Again a fairly direct route meant skirting the southern environs of Harlow.  This is not as bad as you might expect as there is a cycle route which gives opportunities to appreciate the architectural merits of Harlow housing estates.  Leaving Harlow we were out in peaceful rolling Essex countryside.  At one point we went through a village called Toot Hill, an interesting name especially as there are other places with the same name.  Later research shows that it derives from the name for a look out point.  The pub was reached in good time and despite its fairly remote location it was quite busy. (mole was not on the menu). 
 Tawney Common
 The Mole Trap
Leaving the pub we headed for the tea stop at Upshire Church.  Now this is renowned for the quality and variety of its cakes.  It must have been the lure of this that induced me to take a fairly direct route with the result that we got there far too early.  A little extra loop of cycling seemed to be called for to while away some time.  The map showed a small lane which could loop round back to the starting point.  Off we went and round a corner a small herd of deer ran across in front of us.  Upshire is near to Epping so perhaps the deer were from there. 
 Tracks north of Upshire
 Upshire Church
At the point where we should have looped back on the road a discussion ensued as it was still early.  The map showed another smaller road/path going on and this we took.  This went through quite remote countryside with the odd farm here and there.  Almost idyllic, apart from the fact that we were now well off road going up and down tracks, which although muddy were not too bad given how much rain there had been recently.  Eventually we emerged into civilisation and cycled back to Upshire only to find that now there was an immense queue for teas at the church which had been open for some time.
 Cakes galore
 Tea at Upshire
Still we fuelled up on superb cakes and set off again.  We all headed down to Waltham Abbey where the group started to break up as people made their way home.  The group going back to Hatfield headed into the Lee Valley Park only to get lost as the signposting was conspicuous by its absence.  However we did eventually emerge from the park and wearily cycled back to Hatfield to complete 60 miles.
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