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28 Aug: Hatfield to Gamlingay

posted 1 Sep 2011, 12:34 by South Herts   [ updated 1 Jan 2017, 09:47 ]
August Bank holiday weekend and the weather forecast (typical bank holiday) was rather poor for the fairly long ride to Gamlingay. Arriving at the start in Hatfield there were 6 of us despite most people having other things to do on a bank holiday.  So off to Letchworth for our first stop. The route, keeping mostly to the lanes, was to the west of Stevenage. This included one very muddy stretch, where muck spreading after the harvest was in full swing.  As we rode into Letchworth, we went around what is claimed to be the first roundabout in the country (1909). This was about the time that Letchworth, the first garden city, was built.
Taking the direct route into Letchworth
Still looking good at 102

This approach was impressive and as we cycled down the wide straight road, ahead in the distance were fountains spurting skywards. Past them and into the pedestrian precinct there were more fountains and trendy water features.
Fountains in Letchworth

Then into the more prosaic elevenses stop of a Weatherspoon pub ‘The Three Magnets’, which served extraordinary good value breakfasts.  It is ironic that this pub’s name derives from the three magnets theory of Ebenezer Howard, who founded this once dry town, on the basis of combining the attractions of both town and country in a garden city.

Lunch was to be at Gamlingay, a village in Cambridgeshire. By the time we got to Ashwell, a very pretty old village, the wind was getting stronger. So a little further north, just before Steeple Morden, instead of heading off in a large anti-clockwise loop to approach Gamlingay from the east as planned, I decided to go directly north to lessen the headwind. In reality it still seemed pretty strong. After a bit of a struggle through the rolling countryside we were into Gamlingay and ‘The Cock Inn’.

Just as we were thinking of leaving, the heavens opened and the rain pelted down. So thankfully we sheltered at the pub until it passed over. Then we were off taking the large loop I had abandoned in the morning, but now in the opposite direction.
Route planning for the return
Gamlingay church

And it led through really nice remote countryside dotted with thatched cottages. We even went through a tiny place called Wendy, which is rather a strange name for a village. However, now it had decided to rain in an intermittent fashion. So it was on and off with the waterproofs all the way to Stevenage, the tea stop, going via Ashwell where we had been in the morning, but now taking a more easterly route.
An old bus spotted in Ashwell
Outside Ashwell Post Office

The tea stop was at Aston golf course where we seemed to slump into the chairs for a well earned cuppa and a rest. Then off again with the group breaking up as people went their own route homewards. I went back to the start at Hatfield having done about 75 miles, though some from further afield would do a lot more.

Peter 28/08/2011