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05 Sept: Panshanger to Birchanger

posted 7 Sep 2010, 07:01 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 01:07 ]
Carol writes: We thought we’d try a new start point this week for the ride, so I was pleased to see ten people gather at the entrance to Panshanger Golf club on the northern edge of Welwyn Garden City for the 9am start.  Leaving from this point saved spending up to half an hour cycling through urban Hatfield and WGC before reaching the start of the country lanes we planned to use to access a route to Much Hadham for our coffee stop.
We wiggled through Tewin, Bramfield and Stapleford, then climbed out of the Rib valley and over to the Beane valley via Sacombe.  James from St Albans had joined us for the first time and had no problems keeping up as he had recently completed LEJOG (or should I say JOGLE as he started in Scotland). 
Carol leading through Stonyhills
Sacombe Green

Near Barwick Ford it was disappointing that the Llamas had gone from the field, but we made it to the Ash Valley Golf Club for bacon sandwiches and coffees all round.  It was a welcome stop after fighting an unusual warm east wind all morning.  Judy was a bit late getting there, as her recumbent’s rear wheel tyre developed a nasty bulge (due to scraping off the rubber on a climb) and one of its front tyres punctured. 
After coffee we took a new route south of Bishop’s Stortford and Hatfield forest, before turning west again to use a Sustrans route that allowed us to get to Birchanger without using the large roundabout over the M11 near Stansted airport. Using a bridge and two underpasses, the bridle path offered a ‘dry weather’ alternative.
Joining NCR 16 near the Dunmow Road...
...crossing the Stansted Airport flypath...
...and under the M11 slip road.
View map full screen

We emerged at the Three Willows pub, which was friendly and welcoming – great sandwiches with local granary bread. Twenty miles to tea via Burton End, Elsenham, Ugley, Farnham and Little Hadham – some lanes we had never used before.  It was remarkable how quiet and pretty it was in Burton End, then moments later a Ryanair jet took off over us, watched by a myriad of plane spotters parked by a hedge next to the runway.
Braughing teas were up to the usual standards in the village hall then it was about twenty miles home, this time with a strong tailwind to help us along the way.   We left Jon patching up Judy’s tyre as the bulge had by now caused a puncture, but we all got back OK in the end.