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10 July: Hatfield to Fiddlers Hamlet

posted 15 Jul 2011, 04:00 by South Herts   [ updated 1 Jan 2017, 09:02 ]
The weather forecast was good, so when I arrived at the start in Hatfield I was pleased to see seven other cyclists waiting for the off. Two of these were women, new to the group (welcome to nurses Rachel & Andrea!).  That made a good balance of four women and four men on the ride.  It’s always good to have new members, but sometimes the ride leader has a little trepidation, lest they have difficulty keeping up. In this case my concerns were completely groundless as it was more my difficulty keeping up with them, rather than the other way around.  Anyway, first stop was to be at the new Olympic white water centre in the Lea Valley near Waltham Abbey. Our route included a southerly loop via Brookmans Park and Cuffley and then we crossed the New River and the A10 on the new cycleway and bridge.
20110710 Silver Street
Silver Street near Goffs Oak
New River Bridge
Paul Cully Bridge over the A10
Crossing the A10

Eventually this led directly to the Lee Valley Park via an unattended railway crossing. As you approach the white water centre from the north at first all you can see is a very modern looking building and a large mound. Parking the bikes at the bottom you can then go in and up through the building or up the mound itself. The upper level has a nice café with an outside terrace and beyond this is the white water course. This is an excellent free spectacle watching alternately, rafts (inflatable boats) with 9 paddlers in them, or canoeists tackle the plunging white water rapids. Apparently, they have enormous pumps pumping the water to the top from where it cascades down as rapids. This might explain why the rafting sessions cost £50 per person. Nevertheless, it does look thrilling.

White Water raft

10k Fun Run in the Lea Valley

Duly excited and fed we attempted to leave whereupon Neil found he had a puncture.  Having dealt with this we decided to change our onward route and go north in the Lee Valley Park. This is very pleasant riding alongside tranquil waterways and lakes with waterfowl etc.
Near Fishers Green in the Lea Valley

Unfortunately, Neil’s tyre let him down (literally) again. Now we had intended to go to a pub called the ‘Moletrap’ deep in the Essex countryside to the southeast of Harlow. However, time was ticking away and we decided this was too far and a nearer venue was needed for lunch. Therefore, we left Jon to help Neil fix his puncture and instead we took a direct route to The Theydon Oak in Fiddlers Hamlet, just beyond Epping.

The pub was very busy, but the staff were friendly and efficient.  Having lunched, some at the pub and others with sandwiches, off we went again. Next stop was to be at Upshire church famous for its Sunday teas and absolutely superb cakes. This was not too far from where we were. So to earn our reward a loop of a couple of miles and a few hills were put into the route. Strangely whilst the countryside generally was idyllically quiet, there was a part of this loop where there seemed to be an excess of noisy motorways and intersections. (M25/M11). Still, once we were away from that and had negotiated the Epping road through Epping Forest, we were soon dropping down to Upshire village. There, as always, the garden around the church was full of tables with people hard at work eating cake.

Horses near the M25
Upshire Church
Upshire cakes

As proper cyclists, we are fully trained cake eaters ourselves, so having selected from the scrumptious array of cakes we were soon joining in.  Neil liked them so much he bought the recipe book.
Now it was time to head for home. Just after Waltham Abbey, the party split with half going towards north London and the rest towards Hatfield. Just short of Hatfield the weather, which had been dry all day despite looking a little suspect at times, decided it was time for some very light rain. Overall, the distance from the start at Hatfield and back there again was about 63 miles on a very wiggly course.