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14 August: St Albans to Prestwood

posted 19 Aug 2011, 13:20 by South Herts   [ updated 1 Jan 2017, 09:38 ]
I was substitute leader for this Sunday's ride, and as the planned route went to new venues for both the morning and afternoon stops, and involved the use of 4 separate OS maps, and I did not know the area too well, the only question for me was ‘when would I get lost?’  Anyway, off we went from St Albans in what passed for reasonable weather for this summer. Crossing the Gade valley, through Flaunden, down Flaunden Bottom, we were soon struggling up the steep hill from the Chess valley towards the Chalfonts. A loop through the back roads soon brought us to Little Chalfont station and Ozzy's Cafe just beyond - a new stop for us.
Ozzy's Cafe in Little Chalfont
Leaving Little Chalfont

The place was full of people who looked as through they appreciated value for money and turned out to be one of those Italian (?) run cafes - cheap, good food, pleasant service. Highly recommended. So far, the route had been familiar. Now we headed down some quiet lanes to Chalfont St Giles. Here, turning right by the church, we climbed in the direction of Winchmore Hill. Crossing the A355 and teetering on the edge of two maps, we climbed a serious hill into Cole Hill. At the top I realised I had gone wrong.
Somewhere in The Chilterns

We needn't have done the climb, but lacking the nerve to say this and go back down, we carried on. This meant a spell on the busy A404, but we soon turned off into Penn Street and down to Penn Bottom, then on through Holmer Green and Great Kingshill to Prestwood. We had made good time, but it had been a 9.00 start. The Polecat is a popular eating pub, which we have used regularly. After meals and sandwiches, we set off for Hampden Bottom, with a nice flat run down into Great Missenden. Through the village and up past the church, we took the road to Hyde Heath, then through Chesham Bois. Descending into the Chess valley, we climbed the other side towards Ley Hill, then looping back down to Chenies. Our new tea stop was the church, right next to the manor house, and this turned out to be an excellent find.
Chenies Church
Tea in the churchyard

Home made cakes, beetroot and chocolate cake (!) a speciality, and free tea re-fills, and an impressive setting. After this, it only remained to get back to our respective homes, most heading towards St Albans, but with people peeling off on route.