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14 Oct: St Albans to Great Missenden

posted 28 Oct 2012, 03:28 by South Herts   [ updated 1 Jan 2013, 00:44 ]
As I actually live in Barnet and, being idle, have a tendency to drive to the start of our rides I was a little perturbed to find early that morning my car was iced up. Still duty called and I was soon in St. Albans. Onto the bike and a short ride to the start reinforced my view that it was pretty cold, but the sun was shining and it looked to be a nice day. So eight of us started out heading for our first stop at Pitstone Wharf just beyond Ivinghoe. One of our party was a visitor from Australia who had been lent a bike for the ride. Our route skirted around Hemel Hempstead and about here we noticed a guy on a mountain bike riding the same route as us. After a while when we were stopped just before Nettleden he asked if he could join us and of course we said we would be delighted. So after the long climb up to Ivinghoe Beacon (where our two new friends were nearly outpacing us) we hurtled down the other side into Ivinghoe and on to the canal-side café at Pitstone Wharf. There we performed our good deed for the day by noticing that someone else’s bike that was parked there amazingly had its front forks fitted facing backwards! (Admittedly the forks were pretty straight ones with disc brakes but there was no doubt that they were back to front). So we managed to ruin the owners day by pointing out to them that their forks were wrong and dangerous to boot. 

After this two of the party had to return whilst the rest of us pressed on to Great Missenden our lunch stop. The route took us up (with emphasis on the up) through Wendover Woods with fantastic views across the plain to the north. Then it was up and down through a myriad of small lanes until we reached the “Black Horse” just outside Great Missenden. Despite the fact that there were only a few of us the virtually empty pub declared that they couldn’t do sandwiches as they were too busy. So we went on into the village and found a far better pub, which despite being very busy, did very good sandwiches remarkably quickly. Top marks to “The Cross Keys”, on the list for a future visit. 

Now it was time to start the return journey. Great Missenden’s current claim to fame is as the home to the childrens’ author Roald Dahl and our route took us through the churchyard where he is buried. Almost a secular place of pilgrimage for families with children. Then it was up and down through different myriad small lanes until we reached the community café in Chipperfield for our afternoon tea stop. 
After a suitable break we summoned up the strength to mount our bikes for the last leg back to St. Albans. In summary it had been an ideal day, despite the chill the sun had shone, an Australian had seen some of the best of English scenery in the Chilterns, and a passing cyclist who had joined the group appeared to enjoy his ride with us. Total distance about 55 miles in easy stages.