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19 Aug: St Albans to Quainton

posted 24 Aug 2012, 04:48 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Jan 2017, 22:24 ]
We're having some great rides this year and this was to be one of the longest and maybe most challenging rides of our summer programme.  It was already warming up when we met at the start of our ride and forecast to be one of the hottest days of the year.  Our numbers were down on our normal turnout (wimps?).  We muttered about not doing the full ride if conditions proved too difficult, but resolved to at least get to the coffee stop and then decide the next leg.  We headed off towards Hemel and, dodging round the centre of the town, picked the quiet lanes running along the valley towards Berkhamsted.

Here the stiff climb brought us through the lanes to Cholesbury and on from there to Wendover Woods and the very welcome morning stop.
Richard makes it up the hill in Berkhamsted
It's what trees are made for
Wendover Woods Cafe
Time to relax

The cafe was full of cyclists of all persuasions.  After a spot of refreshment, we decided we would do the full route - the stretch to lunch another 20 miles skirting to the east of Aylesbury.  We were just moving off when a sweaty and weary figure came into view; it was Adrian.  Having had mechanical problems on his way to the start he had struggled to catch us.  We hung on while he grabbed a cup of tea, then fixed a puncture, and we were off.  Down the steep descent to Aston Clinton, through Astrope (what an odd village name), Wingrave and Cubblington and then turning west to Whitchurch.  

Passing through Oving, we were on Pitchcott Hill with its superb views across the vale to the Chiltern escarpment beyond.  But ominous black thunderclouds were forming over the hills - would we be in for a soaking?  Soon we were arriving in Quainton, one of the most attractive of villages, and into the George & Dragon a highly recommended stop.  
Adrian not having a great day
Vintage bike of a different kind in Quainton

The thunderclouds seemed to be just missing us as we set off for the return leg.  Adrian said he knew the way through Waddesdon Park; we gave it a try but still finished up at the bottom of Waddesdon Hill having missed a right turn in the park.  But soon we were going down hill again through traffic free Eythrope Park, over the River Thame and then on for a long stretch heading due south.  We went through Halton and then, picking up the path beside the branch of the Grand Union Canal, arrived gasping for drink at the Zebra Cafe (Natural History Museum) in Tring.  Mercifully it was not full of screaming summer holiday kids.  From here we all felt that the quickest and flattest route was to be preferred, even if it wasn't too attractive to look at.  So straight down the valley through Berkhamsted and Hemel soon got us back to the start.  I certainly knew I had been for a cycle ride when I got into the soothing bath, but a great day out.

19 Aug 2012

Richard 19/08/2012