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01 August: Hertford to Hatfield Broad Oak

posted 4 Aug 2010, 00:03 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 00:08 ]
Jon writes: We gave two new riders (William & Paul - both from Broxbourne) a very warm welcome.   Hertford was also a convenient start for Mary and the cooler weather had coaxed Judy out on her Trice so, together with Neil, Pete, Stuart and Vish, nine of us set off up the long hill to Brickendon.

The proximity of Hoddesdon to Hertford allowed for a more interesting route to morning coffee via Wormley and up the towpath beside the River Lea.  We crossed to the east bank towpath at the Old Nazeing Road.  Here the surface was poorer, with large corrugations and dips, although thankfully the muddy puddles that plague this section in winter were completely absent.  We re-grouped at Dobbs Weir, where we crossed back to the west bank and the surface was fine again through to Rye House.
 Crossing the Old Nazeing Road on the Lea
 Dobbs Weir

After a good value elevenses at the Rye Park Café, we headed for the cycle route through the middle of Harlow. This is a completely car free route through the Town Park and along the old Netteswell Road to Old Harlow.  You could almost imagine how nice it was before Harlow was plonked on the landscape.  We then followed quiet lanes through the Matchings and up Sparrow’s Lane to Hatfield Broad Oak. 
 Rye Road toll
 Harlow Town Park

We had paused at Churchgate Street to consider donning waterproofs because the sky looked threatening and a few drops of  rain were falling, but, despite these leaden skies lasting most of the day, we avoided any proper rain.  In fact the weather was perfect for our picnic in the large churchyard (accompanied by some hot parathas thanks to Vish), washed down with a cooling drink at the Cock pub (they do a huge roast beef if you want one); then we were off again across the cattle grids of Hatfield Forest.
 Tasty paratha anyone?
 William's roast dinner

All was well until the notorious Hadham ford claimed its next victim.  Being situated at a T junction makes for a tricky turn on the slimy wet concrete ramp leading out of the ford.  Pete thought he had made it until he touched his brakes as the group slowed and over he went.  Thankfully, his bike was alright and so was he.  Next time we’ll know it’s best to walk the footbridge even in summer, unless you’re on three wheels - I’ve now reported it to Herts Council hoping for some advisory signs to be erected.

Tea at Hopley’s Plants was idyllic.  A beautiful, tranquil setting outside the long barn amidst a 5 acre display garden, friendly service and Suzie’s home made cakes - we didn’t want to leave.  Nice to go somewhere that actively encourages cyclists.

After tea we paused on the Ware to Hertford cycle route to administer first aid to a young boy with a cut on his finger - revenge of the crayfish.
 Tea at Hopleys Plants
 Ware-Hertford cycle route

Strangely, our return to Hertford carried an outdoorsy rock music theme.  We had a stream of Harley Davidson bikers emerging from Moor Place accompanied by Buddy Holly records, a rock concert in the grounds of Hertford castle, and I even saw a group of ageing Mods on scooters near Potters Bar.  Maybe they were thinking about all the groups of cyclists they had seen?
Circuit of 51 miles.  01/08/2010