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17 July: Hatfield to Birchanger

posted 20 Jul 2011, 02:08 by South Herts   [ updated 1 Jan 2017, 09:05 ]
Despite the prospect of heavy showers, seven of us met at Hatfield for a ride Jon was leading to Birchanger, near Stansted, in Essex.  Craig had a new Thorn bike with big Marathon Plus tyres and Rohloff gears, ready for his trip to Vietnam.  Bill was trying out his new low loaders and front panniers, ready for his ride to the Semaine Fédérale in Flers.

We headed through Welwyn Garden City to the Cole Green Way, following this most of the way to Hertford, from where we climbed to Goose Green, before dropping down into Hoddesdon.  We then picked up the canal towpath into Stansted Abbotts, where we were trying a new café – the Village Café – which offered a good range of rolls, sandwiches and fry ups.
Judy struggles while gentlemen look on and take photos!
Towpath at St Margarets
Village Cafe, Stanstead Abbotts
Near Hunsdon

Despite the weather forecast of heavy showers, everyone decided to continue to lunch at Birchanger.  Our route took us through Hunsdon and then past the Henry Moore Foundation up onto the plateau above Sawbridgeworth.  We then only had to go though Spelbrook and the Hallingburys to Birchanger.  By the time we got near to Birchanger, I was behind the others and Jon stayed back with me, directing the rest of the group to the pub around the big roundabouts near the M11.  Jon and I followed on, only to overtake the others while they were doing a non-scenic detour of the service station.
We settled down to an al fresco lunch in the pub garden against a background of darkening clouds.  Before long, the inevitable heavy rain arrived and, not wanting to leave the fresh air for the inside of the pub, we moved rapidly to a table under a shelter.
Lunch located


Useful canopy
Near Farnham

At 2 pm prompt, the skies cleared and we left in the sun, but with threatening clouds overhead.  We did not get very far before we had to stop under some trees to cape up.  However, this shower was not as prolonged as the first and we were soon in the dry again.  We continued to dodge the showers and remained (more or less) dry until we got to tea at Whitehill golf course near Dane End.  Once again, while we were inside eating our tea and cakes, the heavens opened.  The golfers were in the clubhouse watching The Open, while thunder roared and the gutters overflowed.  Again, luck was with us and we left in the dry, with a dry evening to ride home in.

The group split and by the time Jon & I got home to Barnet, we had clocked up 83 miles.  The rest of the group went back to Hatfield via the B1000 to complete the 63 mile circuit; but descending a steep hill, Craig had the misfortune to clip Bill’s back wheel and fall off, scraping his fingers.  Fortunately, they were near Mimram Kennels and a young lad came out with a first aid kit and patched him up, so he was able to carry on home.