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07 Nov: Hatfield to Braughing

posted 9 Nov 2010, 09:44 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 23:00 ]
A bright, sunny but cold morning (4 degrees C - brrrh) saw 10 of us outside Asda in Hatfield ready to start out for a café in Ware. There is no direct route so we meandered in a southerly loop going through the Broxbourne Woods, which were ablaze with autumn colour. The other beauty of this route is a chance to see the local fauna. Not your usual squirrels, pigs or suchlike but real large-as-life lions. Not many cycle groups around the country can lay claim to lion spotting on a normal country ride. But at Paradise Park, a small local zoo has a pride of lions in an enclosure close to the road. Here the lions often rest upon an elevated platform so they can have a good view of us in our bright cycling clothing, which seems to interest them. It crossed my mind whether a fit cyclist, if pursued by a hungry lion could, pedalling furiously escape it. (All the foregoing is without prejudice to the moral issue of whether it is right to keep such animals encaged in zoos).
A fit cyclist
Anyway, leaving the lions, the next animal we came upon was a saddled horse, sans rider, trotting up the road through the woods. A bit of deft manoeuvring by Bill and the horse was persuaded to enter a nearby garden where it started eating the lawn. Shortly thereafter, a young lad accompanied by a large dog came panting up the road asking if we’d seen a horse. So we reunited them. Carrying on we next came upon a posse of women running up the road, they were enquiring about both the lad and the horse. So we reassured them that all appeared well. After all this excitement, it was a relief after another few miles to finally reach the café in Ware.

Ware is a fascinating place with wonderful old buildings. For example just sitting in the café and looking across the road I noticed that the building opposite had embossed into its plasterwork façade the date 1512, and that is pretty old.

Duly rested we left Ware climbing up through its modern eastern suburbs en route for Braughing for lunch. Again, we took a roundabout route out to the east using little lanes and passing through Perry Green, the home of Henry Moore the sculptor. There is a large exhibition of his interesting works here but (unlike the lions) they can’t be seen for free from the road.
A Henry Moore sculpture at Perry Green
We crossed a ford at the back of Much Hadham and carried on up back lanes at the rear of the village, where there seemed to be an awful lot of traffic for such an out of the way place.  Then it was down into Standon - another very pretty village, Puckeridge and into Braughing heading for the “Brown Bear” pub.
Picnic spot...
...overlooking Braughing ford.
The pub, which has a good reputation, is in a very old and attractive building . Yet strangely, despite a welcoming open log fire and excellent food, it was virtually empty apart from us.  Even the dog seemed desperate to escape from the pub - perhaps he smelled a rat?
Dead rat
Then it was time to head straight back without a tea stop, as we dispense with these in winter, in order to try and get back before it gets dark. Straight back is a bit of a misnomer as it involves wiggling around with a fair bit of up and down as well. As usual, some of the group turned off en-route to head directly for their homes. In the end just three of us went all the way back to the start clocking up about 53 miles in all.