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16 Nov: St Albans to Hyde Heath

posted 19 Nov 2014, 23:08 by South Herts   [ updated 6 Jan 2017, 23:30 ]
Eleven of us met at St Albans for another ride into the Chilterns, famed for its picture postcard countryside, pleasant lanes and villages.  On a grey and chilly morning we were pleased to see two new riders out:  Yvette from London Colney and Hari - a refugee from Essex CTC. It had rained pretty hard overnight and the lanes were covered in matted soggy leaves, but neither had mudguards: perhaps a mistake in light of the route we were taking.

Yvette joins her first CTC ride
Richard joins his umpteenth ride
We followed familiar lanes through Potters Crouch, Abbots Langley and into the Chilterns at Sarratt. Shortly after Sarratt, we turned onto a track with some very thick mud on a corner at the bottom of the hill. Rather than face a long slog back up the hill we persevered and the track was not as bad as we had expected. Eventually we emerged onto tarmac but the planned route took us back onto tracks, using a foot bridge over the Chess.  This involved lifting Judy's new e-trice over a barrier, but fortunately there were a couple of people mad enough to assist.  They then carried it along the wooden foot bridge, which was about a centimetre narrower than the wheel track width, while nervously trying to keep balance on the slippery planks.  Another rather muddy track followed (uphill this time) before we reached Chenies, from where it was a short ride into Little Chalfont for a much-needed elevenses at Ozzy’s.

Having stopped at Ozzy’s in Little Chalfont we set out on our detour to Hyde Heath. This is only about 5 miles in a straight line so we planned to make a loop round to the south of Amersham. Unfortunately we had two problems: the ride leader (myself) did not know the area and this short journey required 3 maps of which he only had two. We set off through Chalfont St Giles and on to Penn Street. So far so good. Then we should have gone through Holmer Green and on to Little Missenden. Unfortunately we made wrong turning in Holmer Green and ended up in Great Kingshill. At least we had avoided Beamond End Lane, which is just as well as the last time we went that way it was deep mud that would prove a challenge for the ubiquitous 4WD vehicles. Fortunately Steve had the missing map and we were able to make our way through Little Kingshill and after a brief thrash down the A413 we turned on to the little lane leading up to the Hyde Heath. Here with much relief we stopped for lunch at the Plough inn. This proved to be a very welcoming unspoilt pub with good food and reasonable prices.

Hari on his first ride
As we left the pub it started to rain but fortunately it didn’t really turn into anything serious. Most of us set off back through Chesham and Latimer whilst a few others set off for Bovingdon. When we arrived back in St Albans it was just beginning to rain again.
It was interesting to see how the group of eleven at the start split up during the ride to leave just three of us together in St Albans.  John left us at Ozzy’s and Yvette went home without stopping at  Hyde Heath. Of the five who left together from the pub there were just the three of us remaining by the time we reached St Albans town centre. I hope everyone else did get home all right! Those with mudguards looked forward to giving their bikes a good hosing down, while those without mudguards probably needed to hose themselves down first.

Bill 16/11/2014