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01 May: St Albans to Weedon

posted 5 May 2011, 03:32 by South Herts   [ updated 1 Jan 2017, 03:27 ]
Another bright sunny morning, but with a stiff wind that would be with us all day. Off we set from St Albans, first stop Ivinghoe Tea Rooms. As this is quite a long way out, a direct route seemed to be called for. So, up the A5 to Redbourn, then to Gaddesden Row and down into the valley to Great Gaddesden. Climbing, we took the lane past the Buddhist monastery - there was a shaven headed chap outside having a fag, so the smoking rules must apply there too. The lane briefly becomes a footpath, muddy in wet weather, but perfect in this dry spell. Emerging onto Hudnall Common, we turned to Ringshall. Then, descending Ivinghoe Beacon we arrived at the village.

Here we were met by Jon and Judy, not, as might be expected, already nicely tucked up in the tea rooms, but standing by the side of the road bearing the melancholy news that the tea rooms were closed - not just for the day, but shut for good. Oh dear! Goodbye another familiar haunt. Fortunately, a memory of the cafe at Pitstone marina sprang to mind and we were there in a few minutes.
Waterside cafe at Pitstone
Boats at Pitstone Wharf

A very pleasant refreshment stop by the canal it turned out to be - one to use again. Heading off again we passed through Mentmore, Wing, Cublington, Aston Abbots and then the road to Weedon emerges onto a high ridge with superb views across the countryside in each direction.
Pause for breath outside Mentmore

The Five Elms was a new stop for us, couldn't have been more charmingly situated in this quiet village, and I thought the food was good, though some parsimonious types found it a bit pricey. A very relaxing stop in the spring sunshine. Graham suggested we have a rating system for lunch stops. A great idea, I would give this one 8 out of 10.
Five Elms at Weedon


The next leg was going to be a bit long as Aylesbury was in the way of our return direction and we had to get round it. Jon and Judy decided to return more directly as they were already a long way out from their north London start (88 mile round trip). However, we headed north again to Whitchurch, turning to Pitchcott and its hill, again offering panoramic views across the vale of Aylesbury.  On to Waddesdon hill, a steep climb, then left, descending through Eythrope Park, still a Rothschild residence. Here Lady Alice Rothschild famously told a visiting Queen Victoria to stop treading on her flowers. Crossing the River Thame by the picturesque bridge, we continued south east for a few miles, through Stone and Bishopstone to Terrick. Then turning east, passing the Chiltern Brewery, and dodging round on quiet back roads we arrived at Halton. Here we turned onto the canal towpath and, following this for a couple of miles, emerged to climb to the bridge over the A41 and then on into Tring.
The gatehouse at Eythrope Park
Bridge over the Thame
The canal at Halton

The tea stop in the High street was a welcome break; we could sit in the garden at the back. All that remained now was to get back from Tring. All seemed keen to take the direct, rather than scenic, route. So, we took the old A41 down to Berkhamsted (horrible road surface), then after Berko, turning down past the canal to arrive at Hemel centre. Then up Bunkers Lane, newly restored after its winter's collapse. Esther headed off to Watford and the St Albans and beyond group continued along the main road. It turned out to be around a 70 miles round trip from the start, more door to door. A really enjoyable ride, blessed by superb spring weather and some good stopping places. 

1 May 2011