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17 May: Hatfield to Allens Green

posted 22 May 2015, 05:22 by South Herts   [ updated 13 Aug 2015, 02:55 ]
Another beautiful day for cycling and equal numbers of female and male cyclists joined me for the trek into Essex.  Having left home at 8 am in the chill of the morning I had already stuffed two layers into my pack, which I now regretted having to carry all day.  I wish I had opted for Tracey’s approach.  She arrived on her new lightweight steed and barely had time to dismount before it was receiving the customary weighing in ceremony, which it passed with flying colours in the “I can lift this with my little finger” category. I was tempted to swap bikes as everyone else was looking livelier than me and I was still knackered after a 100 mile plus ride to Cambridge during the week.  

Cucumber Lane
It was a pleasant ride through the woods to Paradise Wildlife Park, where we just had to stop to admire the pride of white lions that were basking on top of the platform, but still eyeing us up over the fence as potential tasty morsels.  No, we really didn’t want to participate in the ‘feed a white lion’ experience in that way.

We dodged around Hoddesdon and through the sewage works (not literally) where we saw four cyclists approaching from the Stansted Abbotts direction.  Soon the bleary-eyed features of Steve and Carol (who had missed the start) appeared, closely followed by Stuart and his mate from Stevenage.  By chance or design we had all converged at the same point.
Just a light breakfast
The morning break in Old Harlow was cheap and cheerful. Graham was in training for a towpath trip from Bristol to London, which would require many calories and much fluid intake, but he did resist the ‘big boy breakfast’.  After all, the UK is already in a leading position in the obesity scales

The quiet lanes around Essex were a pleasure to cycle, making the route through Matching Green and Hatfield Forest very enjoyable.  Due to my brilliant planning, we arrived at the pub a week early for the beer festival, but it was relatively quiet and we spent a relaxing hour in the garden.  Just after leaving, Carol spotted her first great spotted woodpecker, a striking black-and-white bird with a flash of red tail feathers, as it bounced through the air in front of us.
On the way to tea Carol & Steve left at Thundridge to go back to their car and I managed to lose Neil and Tracey who followed them (I can see from Neil’s route they went via Ware and skipped tea). The Rose Café closes early at 4 pm, but we made it with half an hour to spare (although some seemed quite keen on the fallback of JDW in Hertford). Then Sue led us up the lovely Essendon hill and back home to north London.

17/05/2015  Jon