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12 Dec: Hatfield to Ley Green (or Weston)

posted 13 Dec 2010, 08:35 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 23:31 ]
Neil writes: The day started off wonderfully with Simon, Jon, Judy, Tracey, Jackie and new comer Steve and I meeting at ASDA at 9.15.  It was a bright chilly morning and we had a warning of ice out by Ascot's Lane.  So off we set out of Hatfield to Welwyn, then down towards Tewin as a few spots of rain made their presence felt, but this didn't last too long at all.  Along the B1000 a bunch of healthy buggers passed us, which included Jacki's husband Steve.  They motored on ahead while we took the more scenic route to Tewin.  From here it was a nice ride over to Bull's Green then Datchworth, where we made a right and cruised down to Watton-at-Stone.  We pottered along the high street and made our way up Walkern road where I spied a sign for Aston.  Judy and Jon had decided to make their own way to the café, so we took this left, which turned out to be very nice.  The countryside looks lovely covered in frost, and there were several small iced-over streams.  The road led us to Frogmore Hill, from there to Aston, then Aston End and the wilds of Stevenage.  The frozen lake in Fairlands Park made a picturesque scene while we refuelled at Costello’s. 
Fairlands Park, Stevenage
Costello's Cafe

Jackie decided to wait for Steve to join her and go home, and Jon and Judy decided to make their own way to lunch via the Stevenage cycle tracks.  I think that was a cunning plan and they knew what was going to happen.  I decided to avoid Stevenage as I thought the hardest part of the ride would be going through it; how wrong could I get?  Yep, you guessed it, we got lost and I led the team into the wilds.  In fact, Stevenage was easy as we kept to the cycle paths.  Just outside Stevenage, Simon found a road that led into Graveley with relative ease.  From here on in, I was relying heavily on the map and checked it as much as I could.  The plan was to go to Great Wymondley, but I took the road in the opposite direction leading to Weston instead.  Once we had realised the mistake (when we were at Weston) a decision had to be made - do we carry on or stop for lunch?  Steve got a puncture so the decision was made for us and we were soon having lunch in the Red Lion, a lovely pub with nice food, an open log fire and a lot of friendly people.  After some chat we decided to go back via Preston, so we headed to Great Wymondley.  Here we should have turned left on Arch Road down into St Ippollitts, but that didn't happen because I stuck to my guns and dutifully read the map wrong, going full steam ahead into Hitchin!  This wasn't such a great disaster as it seemed, because we were just around the corner from the London Road, which leads right into Old Welwyn.  At the B651 Simon left us and made his way to Hemel via Kimpton, while myself, Tracey and Steve motored into Old Welwyn then WGC, where Tracey left us, then we made it back to Hatfield.  A great days ride - really good fun that tested my map reading skills, but showed me that I should be more confident and take a little more notice of my surroundings.  As was pointed out to me, where I was reading there were no houses and we had just gone through an estate. 

Jon adds: I just kept the sun on our left through Stevenage (brown route on map) and ended up on cycle paths passing Aldi (where we did a bit of xmas shopping).  We found the road out via Redcoats, where we found Richard lurking about, then reached the pub in good time.  As per my txt back to Tracey, they were lucky in stopping at Weston as the Plough in Ley Green had beer, but no food (the freezer had broken down).   It’s worth phoning ahead next time to check.   Carol & Steve joined us at the pub, having explored an off-road part of the Chiltern Cycleway near Hitchin, so we were not alone and starving (just starving).
Chiltern Cycleway near Hitchin

Their bikes had been covered in mud, but as were leaving, the pub dog was kindly doing its best to wash the mud off Steve’s front wheel, panda fashion! 
The Plough, Ley Hill
Ley Hill Post Office (cafe)

Carol noticed the Post Office in the Ley Green had a sign up and, on the way out, we asked the owner, who confirmed they were opening on Sunday mornings for coffee and cake (new cafe for the map).  We pressed on to Whitwell, where Steve and Carol stopped for a meal at Emily’s cafe.  It was getting late so Judy & I carried on and I picked up a snack in Wheathampstead to fuel up for the journey home to London.  It all made for a varied and interesting ride.