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25 August: Hatfield to Maulden

posted 30 Aug 2013, 03:50 by South Herts   [ updated 11 Jan 2017, 22:23 ]
August Bank holiday weekend and today’s ride was to a new lunch stop for us in Bedfordshire, The Dog & Badger.  True to form, it’s a bit drizzly and damp, still, quite undaunted eight of us turned up keen to support any persecuted badgers we might come across.  First stage was to Hitchin taking our usual route via the Ayots and various quiet back lanes, some of them officially designated "Quiet Lanes".  Having said that, and not wanting the climb up to Preston, the last bit was down the ‘B’ road into Hitchin which thankfully was very quiet.  The café of choice was the ‘Hitchin Kitchen’ or rather caff because it has all the virtues of the latter.  We were served excellent food at very cheap prices in a proper caff atmosphere, which is interesting, because it is run by east Europeans.  Arriving there we were met by Jon and Judy, who had led their own ‘easy ride’ from the start and arrived before us.

At this point three of the group turned back (and had to miss the best part of the ride) and the rest of us headed off for the lunch stop at Maulden, in what is now known as central Bedfordshire.  I made a point of leaving Hitchin via Tilehouse Street, which is lined with interesting old buildings.  Being a Sunday morning there were no cars and it was as if cycling up a street in a time warp of a couple of centuries ago.  

From there it was out of Hitchin up the B road towards Barton (if it was drier we could have tried the cycle route instead) and to Pirton and then up a 14% hill into Pulloxhill, which made up for the hill we had avoided earlier at Preston.  After going through Flitton we realised we were running early, so instead of going straight to the pub we made a diversion via Ampthill.  Now, not knowing this place, I had always wrongly assumed it was a somewhat nondescript sort of town; but how wrong can one be.  I was very impressed by the town centre with lots of very interesting and attractive Georgian buildings.  Then it was on through Maulden as our lunch pub ‘The Dog and Badger’ is well out of the village to the east.  By now the sun was out so we had lunch outside what was a very pleasant establishment.

The original plan had been to go to Caddington for tea, but to get there means cycling through the suburbs of Dunstable and Luton, not an inspiring prospect, although it might be easier once the new Busway is open.  So following discussion we headed off through Silsoe and Hexton, followed by the long climb up before we could enjoy the run down Lilley Bottom with the wind behind us to Whitwell and tea at Emily’s tearoom.

Judy and Jon
Judy and Jon at Hatfield

Group on quiet lane
Quiet Please!

Three cycling past
Leaving Ayot St Peter

From there we dispersed and those going back to the start found, when they got there, they had done just over 60 miles, which is a respectable distance for us.