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31 Oct: St Albans to Tring

posted 3 Nov 2010, 08:12 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 01:57 ]
Richard writes: It was Halloween - and the first ride of the autumn after the clocks had gone back, so there would be no tea stop on this trip.  The ride was not especially long overall, but the first leg to coffee was a bit over 20 miles, so a direct route was called for via Redbourn and Gaddesden Row.  Nine of us set off from St Albans heading for Dobbers cafe in Leighton Buzzard. 
Clements End Road, near Studham
Dobbers in 1930

At Whipsnade, we took the old road running beside the zoo enclosures (none of the fiercer types of animal were in evidence, though I spotted a surly wallaby), and then down Bison Hill and onto the Vale of Aylesbury. The sharp hill at Billington is a nasty shock - one of those sudden steep hills that are scattered over the otherwise flat countryside of the vale. When we got there, the light railway was doing extra business for Halloween and, judging by their appearance, the staff in Dobbers cafe seemed to be taking the date seriously - it must be the first time my food has been served up by someone with a green and blue face.
Pages Park Station

We were served by a giant green woman and a witch in Dobbers cafe.

Apart from that, a pleasant stop. Here some stoked up with a decent breakfast, probably their second breakfast of the day. We then skirted through the fringes of Leighton Buzzard, marred by recently extended industrial estates, but one must take the rough with the smooth.  Then we were out again on quiet lanes and on to Ledburn.  The pub here used to be a fairly regular venue but I think it went up market and unwelcoming.  Continuing to Mentmore cross roads, the rain, which had been threatening for a while, started up a bit more seriously and a stop for waterproofs was called for. Then left to Mentmore, another of those sudden steep hills, then Cheddington. We crossed over the Grand Union Canal at Cook's Wharf, passing the Duke of Wellington pub, also a former venue, but recently closed.
Bill in Mentmore
One of 12 support rollers for a 38 ton kiln operating at 1700 degrees C
 and used at the cement works in Pitstone Green.

Turning left here, we continued past the Pitstone Green Museum and on to Tring itself. The lunch stop, the Kings Arms, was completely new to me, but came with a strong recommendation. It is well tucked away in the side streets of old Tring, but turned out to be an excellent stop, a CAMRA favourite and with good food too. I'd rate it one of the best pubs we have visited this year, certainly one to go on our next list.
A cold, wet sandwich outside...
...or a hot, wet sandwich inside.
Stylish headgear

After a hearty feed for most, it was time to ponder the trip back. My group went for the more vigorous ride across to Aldbury, Ashridge and Bridens Camp. The woods at Ashridge were looking at their autumn best, but by now it was raining and we didn't hang around. I had turned in 60 miles by the time I got back.   Others favoured an easier route down the valley. 
The Grand Union canal at Northchurch
Well surfaced towpath
Rod, pole or perch?

This was equally scenic, with autumnal views along the towpath and a pause to negotiate passage past fishermen, who were engrossed in a competition that appeared to be more about who had the longest carbon fibre pole.
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