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29 August: St Albans to Great Missenden

posted 1 Sep 2010, 03:08 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 01:00 ]
Peter writes: Bank Holiday Sunday, cold with forecast of some rain, yet 7 of us turned up at the start in St. Albans.  First leg was to get to Chorleywood for elevenses.  Did this by going west via Abbots Langley and then west again keeping south of the M25 along very quiet lanes.  Wondered if all the drivers pelting along the motorway have any idea that, not far away, is another world of these tranquil rural lanes.  Chorley Wood is quite an upmarket sort of place with a surfeit of smart cafes.  So much so that on arrival we couldn’t decide which to frequent.  Issue solved by splitting into two sub groups, one going for the trendy ethically themed cafe and the other going for the cheaper more ordinary café option.

Thus refreshed we left Chorleywood by a steep hill heading for lunch at Great Missenden.  Now the latter is not that far away by direct A road, but of course that would be cheating and somewhat dangerous as it is a very busy road.  So instead we proceeded by a circuitous route through the Chilterns, which are renowned for their hills. Suitably exhausted we finally approached Gt. Missenden from the south going the length of its old and picturesque High St to reach the Black Horse pub which lies just outside the town to the north.  The pub also operates as a base for hot air balloon flights which, in a flight of fantasy, seemed a nice idea for an easy way back.

Reality intruded and we set off by bike back through the High Street.  Now Gt. Missenden was the place where the famous childrens’ author Roald Dahl used to live and there is an interesting looking café in town, themed upon some of his stories, which always seems to attract lots of families with children. 
Roald Dahl museum - photo credit: Kathy Bragg
Further on a lane climbs steeply up away from the town through the local churchyard and there is Dahl’s tomb, so we stopped briefly to take a look.  Going on it started to feel a little drizzly and looking back we could see wall of rain approaching.  In no time it was upon us with a real downpour. Undaunted we carried on regardless intent upon reaching the tea stop café in Chipperfield.  Quite soon the rain stopped but; woe and disaster, the café was closed. All was not lost however; as Steve remembered that the local garden centre might still be open if we were quick.  So, a sprint to the garden centre for the afternoon tea/coffee and cakes.

Then it was the final leg back to St Albans.  Near the end some turned off to finish by going through Gorhambury Park, whilst others sped back by the direct main road route.
Overall, we did just over 50 miles, a relatively short ride for summer, but it was pretty not to mention hilly.