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05 Aug: Hatfield to Tawney Common

posted 8 Aug 2012, 00:36 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Jan 2017, 22:41 ]
Inspired by Team GB’s tremendous haul of gold medals in cycling events we dragged ourselves away from our couches to emulate their efforts in our own way.  No matter that it’s August, in England, so it’s bound to be wet, and what’s more the forecast says so too, plus thunderstorms.  Despite this five of us turned up at Asda Hatfield for the start of our Sunday ride. It was programmed as a ride with an initial stage for beginners, so I had chosen the flattest route I could and also a reasonably short one on account of the weather.  We were headed for the River’s Edge Cafe at Dobb’s Weir near Hoddesdon.  We started off via Welham Green and then down Tylers Causeway where, whilst stopped for a moment, we were caught up by Bill who was heading straight for the café from his home, which he had left too late for the start.
Inside the River's Edge Cafe at Dobbs Weir
Think we'll stay a bit longer
Flooded car park
Sheltered from above but not below

Later on I made my usual detour via ‘Paradise Park’ (zoo), where usually one can see the lions, which always seems amusingly incongruous in this English woodland setting.  However this time no lions on show, and one of us said the elderly patriarch lion had died last year (RIP Thabo - now succeeded by his son Themba).  So on to the café getting there quite early and a good job that we did.  Because no sooner were we ensconced under their marquee type extension with our coffee and buns etc. when the heavens opened.  The rain simply hammered down, so we settled in for a longish wait for it to blow over.  In the end it stopped and we went on with Judy on her trike, which had also come straight there arriving just before the rain.  We headed for Tawney Common in Essex after skirting around the southern edge of Harlow.  After the rain the roads were awash but we pressed on, donning full waterproofs again when the rain restarted.  The rain finally ceased as we approached ‘The Moletrap’ our lunch pub (so called because in the 19thC a local had invented/manufactured a cunning mole trap and with the proceeds had bought the pub).
Wet roads
The gathering storm
Waterproofs are for wimps
Flat roads in Essex

After lunch the sun came out, so we embarked enthusiastically through the Essex countryside on a southerly loop to put in a few miles to avoid arriving too soon at the tea stop in Upshire.  So on our circuitous route we passed through Abridge and then, sunny no more, on came the rain.  We were sheltering under a tree as it started thundering and lightning (Judy was caught in the hailstorm and has the bruises on her legs to prove it).  An interesting discussion ensued on the merits and demerits of being under a tree risking being hit by lightning or getting soaking wet instead.  This was resolved when we saw a phone mast nearby, which was a far better target for any stray lightening strikes.  So the rain eased off and on we went and just around the corner was an amazing view.  Looking beyond a cottage and across fields into the far distance we could plainly see the landmark towers of the City of London; Canary Wharf, The Gherkin and, to the west the new ‘Shard’.  After this we climbed up to Epping and then plunged down again to Upshire Church famous for it’s superb tea and homemade cakes.  It was now dry enough to sit outside and savour these delicacies. Then we were onto the homeward stretch.  Down past Waltham Abbey and the now closed Olympic White Water Centre.  Then to Crews Hill, Potters Bar and Welham Green again, before finishing back at Hatfield with various parties having dropped off (so to speak) along the way to go home.

Sunshine after lunch
The hail storm arrives
Upshire cake display
A pleasant tea stop at Upshire Church

In all about 60 miles round trip, which surprisingly despite the rain people said they had really enjoyed!

5 Aug 2012