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20 June: St Albans to Lacey Green

posted 22 Jun 2010, 01:46 by South Herts   [ updated 22 Dec 2010, 01:28 ]
Peter writes: On Sunday, the day before mid-summer, eight of us gathered in St. Albans to set forth on what seemed like the coldest June morning since records began.  Undaunted, apart from some light moaning, we began our ride to that distant mountainous region known as the deep Chilterns.  This was to be via a coffee stop in Ivinghoe, reaching which in itself required a certain amount of climbing as a sort of training for what was to come. We got to Ivinghoe by skirting Hemel Hempsted and then climbing through Nettleden and along the edge of the Ashridge Estate.  Then we climbed again across Ivinghoe Common, which opens out to give beautiful views across the downs.  Then, cycling heaven, a long fast descent down Beacon Hill to Ivinghoe village.  ‘Ivinghoe Tearooms’ are in a quaint, ancient cottage dated circa 1500 with a beautiful garden looking out upon a distant windmill, and the ‘fare’ is good too.
 Beacon Hill

From here the direct route to the ‘Whip Inn’ at Lacey Green for lunch is across the Chiltern hills, which involves far too much going up and down.  Further but much flatter is to keep to the north of the escarpment via Halton.  Which we did.  Not far from Aston Clinton we took to the towpath of the abandoned Wendover arm of the Grand Union canal which is a delightful backwater.  Leaving this in a little way we turned south into the Chilterns proper, passing ‘Chequers’ the prime minister’s country retreat.  We paused there to consider whether to call in upon Dave and Sam Cam but decided we couldn’t spare the time.
 Wendover canal
 Chequers entrance

Then it was time for some serious climbing and twisting and turning in the lanes of the hills.  As ride leader I came to the conclusion that the actual terrain seemed markedly different from what was on my map as I became increasing confused as to where I was.  Others appeared to think it was my map reading that was defective, but I stoutly maintained the locals had deliberately altered the landscape/signposts in order to discourage interlopers.  Emerging at the top of the scarp slope, We paused to watch a soaring red kite near the Loosley Row windmill. However, eventually we reached the pub and had a restorative lunch.
Red Kite above Loosley Row windmill
 Peter, Phil, Carol, Steve, Sue, Tracey & Richard

Then it was back into the confusing maelstrom of lanes and hills as we headed east to pass through Chesham before reaching the church at Flaunden, which unsurprisingly, is at the top of yet another long steep hill.  Still the church provides excellent afternoon tea and cakes and comfortable chairs to collapse into.  It was thus with great difficulty that we finally managed to rouse ourselves and head off again via Kings Langley and back to the start at St. Albans.
 Little Pednor farm
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All in all about 67 miles of varied and interesting cycling.