June 2012 weekend ride reports

24 June: Wheathampstead to Whitwell

posted 27 Jun 2012, 04:15 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Jan 2017, 23:18 ]

It was supposed to be the Herts hilly 100k today.  I had done my homework, organised the stops and had the written directions from the 40+, I had the application forms, and I had the map and a Google map print out of the 2010 route (which we were going to do).  Sunday morning arrived and the skies were crying, I knew there was to have been a lot of water overnight, but it looked like it was stretching into the morning.  Wheathampstead was wet and I took shelter in the doorway of the Bull pub.

The only person to turn up was Richard and he had to be back by lunchtime, this suited me and we decided to do a short ride instead of the event, so the ride was cut short, very short indeed.  We headed off toward Lamerswood and then turned left to wards Kimpton Bottom; from here we were making our way to Darley Hall.  It has to be noted that there was a huge amount of water on the roads with several sections flooded.  The whole of the countryside looked as if it had had a damn good soak.

On our way to Darley Hall we passed a sign for a castle, I scoffed at this and Richard said no, there really is a ruin.  So without further ado we went to have a look.
Tumble down brick walls inside castle
Someries Castle

Someries Castle: The castle is a brick building built by Sir John Wenlock in the 15th century. What remains is in ruins but will allow you to imagine how it must have looked in its prime. The remaining brick building is the gatehouse to the actual manor house.  All that remains of the manor house is the clearly visible earthworks that outline the plot where once the house would have stood. The bricks from the manor house were used to build the nearby farmhouses in the 17th century.

Safe from our brush with culture we decide that tea at Emily’s in Whitwell would be great, but on our way there I did a delightful controlled skid into the hedges opposite me.  A car came up in front of us as we were on a descent, I touched my brakes lightly and off I skidded into a neighbouring hedgerow.  With a mouth full of stinging nettles I waved the car on then humbly picked myself up, dusted down, straightened my forks and headed off to Emily’s.

Tea, ah! it’s nice, and the café was full of cyclists.  At this point I noticed the stingers were becoming uncomfortable, especially in the ear (not recommended).  From here we made a beeline back to the start.  All in all a good mornings ride and I felt better for doing it, but I’m quietly happy that nobody else turned up.

24 June 2012

Neil 24/06/2012

17 June: Hertford to Matching Tye

posted 23 Jun 2012, 07:17 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Jan 2017, 23:25 ]

The weather may have been iffy for ages, but nothing to complain of for today's ride.  We met in the centre of Hertford and set off up the Bengeo hill to Stoney Hills.  Passing through Sacombe Park, with its fine views over the valley below, we were soon crossing the A10 and then the ford at Barwick.  Only one cyclist braved the ford itself, but as she was on a trike, she could hardly fall off!  

Entering Sacombe Park
Barwick Ford

Then on to Much Hadham, where the signs of recent flooding were well in evidence - masses of gravel washed down the hill into the road.  Climbing to Perry Green, we took the main road into Bishops Stortford - there are not that many ways into the town from the west.  Our coffee stop was the good value Bridge Cafe in the town centre.  It was going to be a fair way to lunch, so most stocked up on nourishment while the going was good.  We continued through the town, heading south.  Then passing round Hatfield Forest, we zigzagged through the surrounding lanes, to reach Hatfield Broad Oak.  A left turn here took us through more traffic free lanes to Matching Green and then our lunch stop at Matching Tye.  

Hadham Ford
Matching Green

The Fox is a pleasant pub with a nice garden to sit and chew your sandwiches. After lunch we still needed to head south to reach tea in Epping Forest.  Passing through Magdalen Laver, my knowledge of the local geography began to run out.  Jon suggested a more traffic free route than the one I planned, and, keeping to small lanes were soon crossed the M25/M11 junction to reach Theydon Bois.  Then it was a very long climb up through the forest to cross the main road, then a side road to the church.  

High Beach churchyard
Entering the Lea Valley Park from Mott Street

High Beach church is a new tea stop for us - would the teas be as good as the exceptional neighbouring Upshire Church?  Not quite, although the recital in the church added a bit of culture to our day.  Then, descending to the Lea Valley Park, we split into smaller groups heading for different homes - still a fair way for most.  A really enjoyable day out into the quiet countryside of rural Essex.

17 June 2012

Richard 17/06/2012

10 June: Hatfield to Shepreth

posted 23 Jun 2012, 07:06 by South Herts   [ updated 20 Aug 2012, 06:26 ]

Jon leading through Barkway
This ride coincided with the start of the club tour to East Anglia.  Three riders returned home after lunch, while ten of us headed off to spend the first night in Ely.   

03 June: Norton Heath to Maldon

posted 4 Jun 2012, 08:53 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Jan 2017, 23:35 ]

I like rides with an element of challenge and adventure and today’s ride filled the bill nicely.  The idea behind our car-assisted ride this year was to venture into unfamiliar territory and get to the east coast, or at least the tidal waters of the Blackwater estuary at Maldon.  Maybe it was this prospect that attracted 12 cyclists to defy the weather and gather at Norton Heath (nothing to do with my pestering them about it the previous week!).  I was glad to see so many eager participants, including some friends from the Essex B Forty Plus – were those genuine smiles or grimaces as we started off in the rain?  

The route demanded some careful pre-planning, although with so much online mapping and Google Streetview available there’s a danger of spending more time ‘flying’ the route on screen than actually riding it on the day.  Surely following NCR1 all the way to Maldon must be easy-peasey?  On a dry day I would have used the official route, but I decided to avoid some muddy off-road sections after Chelmsford.

Setting off from Norton Heath Cafe
The cycle route through Chelmsford

However, our first hazard came soon after I missed the correct crossing of the River Can just after High Bridge Road (those tiny blue signs are easy to miss when specs are misted up).  I took the next bridge instead and luckily spotted the wet sleepers in time, so we slipped and slided across that one on foot fairly safely.  But the next bridge, a hump-back masterpiece, nearly had me off as I missed seeing the ‘Cyclists Dismount’ sign – it was bad enough walking down the slope in cycling shoes as everyone else did.

Slippery hump back bridge
Stanford Mill footbridge- Just wide enough for the Trice

The footbridge at Stanford Mill demanded some skillful Trice steering by Judy to avoid plunging over the edge – I felt my popularity waning a bit at this point.

My next trick was to avoid the muddy Graces Walk and take Hurrells Lane just to the north instead.  The river was 1 foot deep at the ford here, so it was another narrow footbridge for the Trice.  As we crossed someone noticed the Footpath Closed signs had washed into the river.  Several planks were missing at the end of the bridge.  Carefully we handed the three-wheeler, plus all the other bikes, over the gap with the river running below.


Hurrells Lane ford.  A favourite spot for gathering firewood?

After this it was a steep climb to the highest point of the ride at Little Baddow; then downhill and we knew the sea wasn’t far away as we reached Cut-A-Thwart lane (cut across?).

Cycling through Maldon it looked quite deserted, surely everyone wasn’t at the Jubilee picnic in Maldon Park?  No, most seemed to be in the harbour front pub we had chosen.  So, after a quick look at the sailing barges, we headed back to town and found the cosy Crystal Café, where we watched the rain-soaked crowds at the Queen’s Thames Pageant catching hypothermia as we tucked into a cooked lunch.

Jean on Cut-A-Thwart Lane
Arriving at Maldon Harbour
Sailing barges lined up##
The Thames Pageant showing in the cafe

The rain had finally eased as we did the short hop to the BHN garden centre for a mid afternoon cuppa, but it came on again as we passed a full Hanningfield Reservoir, so I missed out the off-road short-cut of Metsons Lane.  My cunning plan to avoid all rough stuff didn’t quite pay off as, with just half a mile to go to Norton Heath, Neil was unlucky enough to get the only puncture of the day and walked back to the cars.  Must do this ride again on a summer’s day.

Queen and Prince scarecrows taking shelter in Purleigh
Loading up Giles' van

3 June 2012


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