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19 May: Hatfield to Hatfield Forest

posted 23 May 2013, 09:18 by South Herts   [ updated 12 Jan 2017, 21:25 ]
You may think Hatfield Forest is near Hatfield, but it’s in Essex just south of Stansted Airport and a fairly long ride for the seven people who gathered at the start.  The weather forecast was reasonable, no rain and not too cold, but not very hot either, in fact good cycling weather.  First stop was to be Lea Valley Park Farm (café) in the Country Park.  We set off in a southerly loop via Cuffley and the long climb up to Goffs Oak and then by a back route to Cheshunt.  From here it’s across an unmanned level crossing, looking out for trains, and then entering the park.  The route is very attractive wending past rivers and lakes and through the trees to the far side.  Here, as has happened before, we had some difficulty actually finding the café in the maze of paths.  Once located it was warm enough to sit outside and refuel.  We had a new rider with us called Matt who was wearing a London/Paris top.  When asked how many days the ride had taken, he said 24 hours!  This explained why he had seemed such a strong rider compared to us lesser mortals.

Cyclist riding towards camera
Craig approaching
two riding away
Steve & Carol

From here Harlow lies in the way, so we skirted through the southerly outskirts of the town and then it was out into the glorious little lanes and unspoilt countryside wending northwards towards Hatfield Forest.  The forest is National Trust and it’s always nice, when on a cycle, to enter without paying the steep car park charges everyone else has to pay.  Once inside it’s quite a distance to the café, which is next to a lake, and for a National Trust venue the café was very reasonably priced.  The forest was a medieval hunting ground and is a mixture of open spaces and trees.

Bearded man on bike
Five cyclists collecting bikes
Leaving Hatfield Forest

After lunch we decided to change the tea stop to Ware and we set off south westwards.  Whilst this is beautiful countryside it was amazing how far from the airport was blighted by the noise of aircraft going in and out of Stansted.  On the way we went through Perry Green where there was an event at the foundation of the famous sculptor Henry Moore, who has a permanent exhibition there.

At Ware we stopped for tea and then it was back along the pretty canal linking Ware and Hertford. Finally we reached Hatfield after an excellent day’s cycling, of altogether about 65 miles.