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07 Dec: St Albans to Woodside

posted 10 Dec 2014, 08:25 by South Herts   [ updated 6 Jan 2017, 23:19 ]
Not many daylight hours at this time of year, so this ride was quite short. The weather forecast was rain in the morning and sunny in the afternoon, which was not too far from the truth. Starting in St Albans we followed what turned out to a somewhat cultural tour of Hertfordshire.  Heading towards Sandridge via Valley Road and Sandridgebury Lane we crossed Beech Bottom Dyke, thought to have been built by King Cunobelinus (subject of the Shakespeare play - "Cymbeline") during the Iron Age as part of defences that stretched between the rivers Lea and Ver. Then we rode through Sandridge and along the old Roman Road to Welwyn, where planting more trees is extending Heartwood Forest, although we were hard pressed to see any. Turning left we crossed through Nomansland Common and over the River Lea at Leasey Bridge. Then we ascended to Gustard Wood and took a quiet lane to Ayot St Lawrence to see George Bernard Shaw’s house and the ruined Church. 

group at church
The church in Ayot St Lawrence
Bridge over the B653

Then it was down the hill and left to Kimpton Mill, where we crossed the River Mimram at some watercress beds towards Whitwell. The weather decided to show us who was boss here and the result was a rush to get out of the rain in Emily’s café, which was packed with cyclists as usual. Dried out in the cafe then we headed up the hill to Bendish and through Peters Green to pick up the Cycle Path towards Luton along the Lea Valley.  The cycle path is very pleasant and there are steel cutout statues of the comedian Eric Morecambe and Capability Brown the designer of the gardens at Luton Hoo.  

Statues on NCR6 near Luton
Mike posing as Eric Morecambe

Reaching the edge of Luton we followed the cycle paths towards the town centre and took a left up a long and very steep Cutenhoe Road and into Stockwood Park, where we managed to avoid the Christmas fair. I was hoping to take the cycle path to Woodside but it looked too steep and muddy so we took a short detour to Farley Hill, crossed under the M1 and headed to the Plough at Woodside.  We got to the Plough in time to miss an afternoon shower as a front came over.  After lunch it had turned colder and we headed to Harpenden via Pepperstock and Kinsbourne Green.

Mike 07/12/2014