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12 Sept: Hatfield to Croydon

posted 17 Sep 2010, 13:28 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 01:10 ]
Tracey writes: Ten of us met at Asda in Hatfield; and it was great to meet and welcome Mark, a Wednesday night club rider, to our Sunday ride.  We set off promptly at 9.05 a.m. on a fine bright morning and headed out via Hatfield Garden Village, through Lemsford and up to Ayot Green, where we were joined by Stewart, who kindly agreed to take some pictures on route.  We then headed to Codicote and followed country lanes up towards Preston.  When we turned off to Hitchwood Lane the road was closed due to flooding!  Not wanting to deviate from my planned route we went "off piste" through Bluebell wood and joined the road further up the hill.  We continued to Gosmore, through Hitchin town centre and up hill to our coffee stop at Hitchin Garden Centre. 

Thus fortified we set off for the next leg of our journey through Letchworth and on to Baldock, where we turned off towards Bygrave.  I was really glad the sun was shining through a lovely blue sky, as this is a very open and uphill stretch of road!  We then cycled through the picturesque villages of Ashwell and Guilden Morden and turned off towards Shingay.  We were bombing along this road (well for me anyway, about 16 miles an hour!) probably because the wind was behind us and I had just had the most humongous cheese scone at breakfast!  As we were ahead of time, I decided to loop around to Wendy-cum-Shingay and up to Wimpole, to go through the National Trust Wimpole Hall Estate before lunch. 
Wimpole Hall Park

It was busy with fun-runners doing a charity event, but we managed to persuade a walker to take a great picture of us all in front of the very impressive Hall. 
Wimpole Hall

We continued through the grounds of the estate admiring some of the rare breed cows with big horns (they may have been White Park cattle).  We came out of the side exit at Arrington, crossed over the Ermine Way and followed the lane up to Croydon, where we parked up at the Queen Adelaide Pub. There some of us enjoyed a pre-ordered sandwich lunch or hot meal and we sat in the nice gardens and had a well deserved drink!  (The half-pint glass Peter had looked smaller than anybody else’s; optical illusion?). 
Same again?
The Queen Adelaide

From the lunch stop, we did a parallel route back to Wendy then Shingay and turned off to Abington Piggotts, around Litlington Church and on to Steeple Morden.  We then realised we had lost Richard!  Steve, (who had more miles left in his legs than me) kindly went back to try to find him.  The rest of the group waited at the impressive Steeple Morden 355th Roll of Honour Memorial.  It stands outside the old Steeple Morden fighter base (AAF station F-122).  This was manned by USA personnel during World War 2 and from here flew P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs.
355th memorial at Steeple Morden

Richard’s bike had got a puncture and after fixing it he returned to the group and we continued back to Ashwell, headed south-east to Slip End, continued up to Rushden then up to Cromer windmill and right to Ardley Church Farm for afternoon tea and cake.  Our homeward journey took us through Wakern, Aston and Bragbury End.  The St. Albans posse turned off towards Woolmer Green and the Hatfield posse went on to Datchworth, Tewin and Welwyn Garden.  It was a long but enjoyable ride of 76 miles, aided by good weather and good company!
12/09/2010

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