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03 October: Hertford to Sawbridgeworth

posted 3 Oct 2010, 13:26 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 01:33 ]
Jon writes: We were delighted that Sunday turned out, contrary to earlier expectations, to be mostly dry.  However, the forecast may have put off some of our less stalwart members, as just three of us set off from the Hart in Hertford with the sun starting to come out.  Approaching Goose Green, we had our first wild life encounter of the day as a large grass snake wriggled its way at high speed between Judy’s three wheels.  We snaked through Hoddesdon, Dobbs Weir (where the river was in spate) and Roydon, then south of Harlow to the garden centre at Hastingwood.
The distinctive bronze statue of a hart in Hertford
At the top of Low Hill Road in Roydon

Leaving elevenses, we took a tour of some Essex lanes through Magdalene Laver and High Laver.  After Matching Green, we explored the bridleway past Matching Pond and the isolated Matching Church.
Matching Pond
 Matching Church

In the quiet lanes between Matching Church and Sheering, was the highlight of our day.  We spotted a falconer emerging from a field with a huge buzzard from South America - pictured here holding the rabbit it had just caught.  Two more falconers then emerged carrying smaller Harris Hawks.
South American buzzard with rabbit
Real ales at the Gate in Sawbridgeworth

The Gate pub in Sawbridgeworth had a good range of food on offer, together with beers and cider from the attached microbrewery, so we were not keen to leave too early.  It was raining when we left, but this cleared up after an hour and the sun came out again, just as the familiar cry of “puncture!” went up.  Fortunately, it was easy to fix in-situ on the Trice front wheel.
Barwick Ford

We by-passed Hadham ford (a new concrete ramp is being installed here) and walked around Barwick Ford as the river was quite high.  Tea at Whitehill was enlivened by a group of crows struggling to fly across the links but being beaten back by the wind.
The drive to the Golf Club
A deserted golf course

We returned via Hertford after 50 miles, pleased at our close encounters with wildlife, not only the more unusual specimens mentioned above, but also the more common pheasants, ducks, rabbits and squirrels.