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22 July: Wheathampstead to Marston Vale

posted 24 Jul 2012, 04:56 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Jan 2017, 22:53 ]
A bright, sunny and warm day! Sun creams, and not waterproofs, were at the ready when we met up at Wheathampstead.  There was a good turn out of cyclists – too many to count easily.  Our first stop was to be Harlington - the other side of Luton. We could either circle round it - a long and hilly route; or boldly go straight through it.
14 gathering at Wheathampstead
Lee Valley cycle route

Following the Lee Valley cycle route we went directly towards Luton (diverting to the road to avoid that annoyingly muddy bit in the middle).  Soon we were startling the gathering winos and misfits in Luton town centre, who didn't know whether to run for it or say hello when they saw us cycling towards them.  Following the Bedford direction through the town we picked up the more pleasant green route along the upper course of the Lee, eventually emerging on the road to Sundon.  Then it was a smooth climb through the villages and over the edge of the escarpment - a fast descent - and through Harlington to the garden centre.  

From this coffee stop, some of us needed to return home, but the rest soon pressed on through the quiet woods surrounding Woburn and then past the Milbrook proving ground and on to our lunch stop at Marston Vale Country Park.  Here we were due to meet up with the Cambridge CTC group. They weren't there when we arrived and in fact didn't arrive until we had eaten and were itching to leave.  So socialising cut a bit short.  However, it was nice to see them for a brief chat.  
Marston Vale Country Park
Boys will be boys

Picnic by the lake
Cambridge CTC arrive

We left the park through the model village of Stewartby, built in the 1920s for the workers at the London Brick Co. Once the largest brick works in the world, whose legacy is the enormous clay pits (now recreational lakes) and four preserved chimneys.  The works were closed in 2008, because of the difficulty of removing sulphur emissions from the clay - it is full of ancient seaweed, which gives off fumes when burned. 

Note the sandals
Looking cool

Our course now lay east, cutting across several north/south roads, so a bit of a zigzag, passing through Haynes, Ireland and Southill. A nice trip, though, through rolling countryside. Eventually arriving at Langford, we took a welcome tea break - the unaccustomed heat was getting to us. From here most headed back to Wheathampstead where parked cars were waiting and a straightforward route took us through Hitchin and Codicote. 

22 July 2012