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21 July: Hertford to Saffron Walden

posted 24 Jul 2013, 07:36 by South Herts   [ updated 15 Nov 2015, 22:07 ]
Following some blazing hot days six of us turned up at the start at Hertford for another sunny ride.  Today’s destination was Saffron Walden, hence the Hertford start to make the distance more manageable.  Elevenses was to be at Bishops Stortford and for a change we left Hertford by a new route, riding up the back streets of Bengeo and exploring alleyways until we emerged at the top.  Then it was a sweep across to Wadesmill and Thundridge and on through ‘Cold Christmas’.  The village church here is abandoned and derelict and has been know to give people cold feelings – perhaps we should have visited as we sweated away on a very hot July day.  On through the Hadhams and finally into Bishops Stortford down a back road lined with beautiful historic houses.  Following an excellent elevenses at a proper ‘caff’ in the centre of town, Jon and Bill turned back for home, being very busy people, leaving just four of us to carry on.
Row of thatched cottages
Old cottages in Wendens Ambo
We left heading north and as we went on down smaller lanes the traffic dropped away giving us a beautiful peaceful ride through the countryside.  We went through Clavering and a host of other very pretty villages and, getting closer, through Wendens Ambo (another interesting name, which originates from the joining of two villages, Great and Little Wenden to form Wendens Ambo meaning “both Wendens”), Audley End and into Saffron Walden.  Then down the ancient High Street we found the ‘Temeraire’, an imposing Georgian hostelry, now part of the Wetherspoons empire.  The ‘Temeraire’, as I am sure you all know, was the name of the sailing ship that fought alongside Nelson’s flagship  ‘Victory’ at Trafalgar.  It is also the subject of a famous painting by Turner. 

As always Wetherspoons was good value and then discussion turned to our next leg, which was to get to Braughing for their famous tea and cakes in the church hall.  For once we were in good time and decided if we went straight to Braughing we might well be there too early before they opened for tea.  So in a fit of enthusiasm we headed further northwest away from our destination.  We went through more quiet lanes and villages sleeping in the hot sun: Elmdon, Great Chishill and then Barkway.  Once here it was straight 7-mile cycle south, down to Braughing.  As always the tea and home made cakes were superb.

Finally we made our way down the old A10, now a reasonably quiet backwater, to Ware and then alongside the canal back to the start at Hertford.  All told a total distance of around 60 miles, and despite being in the middle of a rare heat wave it hadn’t seemed too bad.

peteR 21/07/2013