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19 Sept: St Albans to Hinxworth

posted 21 Sep 2010, 10:50 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 01:17 ]
We met at the St Albans start at 9am as today's ride had a coffee stop in Barton le Clay, which was over just over twenty miles by the route I had chosen. We'd had a phone call from Bill at 8.30 saying he'd only just noticed the earlier start so he would make his own way to Barton directly from Barnet.  We crossed Harpenden Common then climbed up to Peters Green via Batford, before skirting Luton airport and dropping into Lilley Bottom.  After the long drag up to the top of Gravel Hill we flew down the hill to Hexton then along to Barton.   The new coffee stop was on the wrong side of the A6 dual carriageway, but with a little help from Google street view, I could see there was a safe crossing point to use.  The cafe was good and situated on top of a shopping emporium and garden centre. It was based round an old mill.  We wondered what had happened to Bill and he just arrived as we were leaving. 
Barton Mill

 A house in Barton le Clay
There was a pretty house on the route out of Barton where we stopped for a photo shoot.  We headed east via Gravenhurst and Shefford then crossed the A1 to arrive at Hinxworth where Jon and Judy were waiting for us.  We made good time as there was a strong tailwind all the way.
After lunch we headed back via Ashwell, Baldock and Weston then skirted the edge of Stevenage on the old Weston Lane where the group stopped to take a peek at Rooks Nest House, which was the childhood home of the novelist E M Forster.  It is believed he based Howards End on this house. There is also a memorial to him in the church at the bottom of the lane.  
Rook's Nest House

I found this link to the EM Forster country website. It looks interesting, as there is a campaign to prevent the land north of Stevenage being developed. It gives history of his links to the area.
Monument to EM Forster

We went through Old Stevenage on paths before taking a direct route to the ever-reliable cafe at Whitwell.
 Emily's Cafe, Whitwell

Fortified by excellent carrot cake we sped back to our various homes.