DECEMBER SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
It was bright sunshine when we left The Forum, if slightly chilly. We soon warmed up as we headed along Alban Way via various detours to Verulamium Park. On the way we passed through Highfield Park which has a beech shrub maze, Watercress Wildlife Association nature reserve, across a pedestrian only level crossing over the Abbey Line railway track and into Verulamium Park.
We went to the Inn in the Park cafe for a very enjoyable lunch with that cyclists staple coffee and cake, then headed back through Verulamium Park and via a more direct route along Alban Way back home.
You can see our route here
. You can also download the route in various formats from the Export tab on that web page.
SEPTEMBER SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
This was our second attempt to get from Hatfield to Hertford and back without going into Welwyn Garden City. On our previous attempt
parts of the route were too wet to use so we returned via WGC.
A very small party set off from Hatfield Town Centre at the slightly earlier time of 10:30, leaving the HealthFest at which WHCF had a stall. We went via NCN Route 12 through Stream Woods and Oxleas Wood and made our way via Welham Green to Wildhill Road. From here we followed various Public Byways and bridlepaths to Essendonbury. After a short distance on roads we reached the Cole Green Way and carried on to Hertford.
In Hertford we sat in the sun beside the canal then went to Serendipity's cafe for lunch.
Our return trip was by Cole Green Way again then following bridlepaths beside the River Lea. We dodged the traffic to get across the A414 - actually much less intimidating than it sounds and returned to Hatfield via Mill Green.
If you would like to follow our route here are the outward
JULY SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
Just two of us set off from Hatfield on a glorious sunny day, both riding Brompton folding bikes.
One of our party was carrying pruning tools so we did a spot of pruning along the cycle path along Dixon's Hill as a wild rose was completely blocking it. We were also equipped with a brush to sweep the thorns off the cycle path. However unlike Mary Poppins we had no hat stand!
Pruning the cyclepath
We continued on a very pleasant sunny ride to Barnet via the Trotters Bottom bridge (designed for horses so easy to ride over) and along the Dollis Valley greenway which is well worth a visit.
Eventually we came to
where we stopped for lunch.
The sandwich with salad was very good value for money and left us with no room for anything else apart from an excellent cappuccino. We then cycled back up the Dollis Valley and over to Oakleigh Park station and then had to wait 50 mins for a train, as one was cancelled due to lack of crew. So we sat in the sun and talked bikes.
All in all a very pleasant day out.
is our route
JUNE SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
Six of us met at Morrisons in Welwyn Garden City at 11am, which is our
usual start for rides to Hertford and beyond. We followed the Cole Green
Way to Hertford and then carried on along the tow path. As we came into
Ware we had to dismount due to crowds watching the annual Dragon Boat
Race organised by the Hertford Shires Rotary Club.
has limited opening hours (2pm to 4.30pm on Saturdays and
Bank Holiday Mondays from the beginning of April to the end of
September) so we had plenty of time for refreshments before going to
Someone suggested a place called
The Coffee Bar
at 10 Amwell End,
which is close to the bridge in the centre of Ware. This proved to be a
good choice for the coffee and cake fans and also had a good selection
of freshly prepared sandwiches etc. It also turned out that one of our
party knew the owner!
Suitably refreshed we set off to find the grotto on nearby Scotts Road,
which turned out to be quite a steep hill. Scott's Grotto was built
in the 1760s by John Scott, an 18th century Quaker poet. It was
extensively restored in 1990 and is a Grade I listed historic building.
There was a volunteer on duty who explained a bit about the history
before inviting us to look around. Fortunately none of us suffered from
claustrophobia because the tunnels were quite narrow. It had been
advised to wear "sensible" shoes and take a torch, though there were a
few torches available for people who turned up without one.
After exploring the grotto we walked up the hill to have a look at the
associated summerhouse where another volunteer told us about some other
interesting destinations in the area, including a place with a large
collection of old lamp posts.
It was then time to head home and we retraced our route back to Welwyn
Garden City from where we went out separate ways.
RIDE TO MICHAELS FOLLY
There was a suggestion a year or two ago for a ride to one of the National Garden Scheme's
open garden events but it didn't happen till this year when we organised a ride to the
garden at Michael's Folly in Epping Green. Having visited a grotto for this month's
Saturday Social Ride it seemed appropriate to visit a Folly. Michael's Folly is a house
and there is no actual folly there, but there are some interesting constructions around
the garden, including a yurt and a straw bale dance studio.
The garden was open in the afternoon on Sunday 29th and as the route was initially along
the Cole Green Way we met at Morrisons in Welwyn Garden City. The weather forecast was for
heavy showers, which is perhaps partly why only three people turned up.
We set off and followed the Cole Green Way until we came out from the A414 underpass at
which point we decided to try a slight short cut along Deadfield Lane which is shown as a
byway open to all traffic but was rutted and barely passable due to encroaching vegetation.
Glad to be back on tarmac we headed south from Letty Green, crossed the B158 and carried
on through Bedwell Park, skirting the golf course before climbing steeply up the
Hertfordshire Way to Berkhampstead Lane where we turned left and then almost immediately
right to continue along the bridleway to Woodcock Lodge. At this point we were close to
the tall radio mast which we had seen in the distance for some time and just beyond that
we reached our destination.
There were hot drinks and good selection of cakes available and quite a few other visitors
to chat to. We stayed until the first rain shower and then thought we had better set off
for home before the weather took a turn for the worse. We followed the same route back
except that we avoided Deadfield Lane and instead rode through Letty Green on road and
joined the Cole Green Way at the Cowper Arms. The ride home was wet but at least it wasn't
cold and all in all it was a good afternoon out.
is our route.
MAY SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
Steaming cyclists is our annual short ride for families from Hatfield to the miniature
steam railway at Colney Heath. This year we started from Hatfield Swim Centre, a good move
as the posters nearby had persuaded one family to join us. We were blessed with sunny
weather, smooth tarmac on the Alban Way and not too much mud on the rough bits. But
sadly not with an absence of punctures, one poor rider getting two before we set off.
That said, the short
ride was enjoyed by all and, with both railways running, there was a good excuse to have
two train rides, not one. (Not that I really needed any excuses!)
The railway is open 1st and 3rd Sunday 14:00 to 1700 until the end of September, so if you
missed our ride, do please follow our
try it yourselves.
ALBAN WAY LITTER PICK
Easter Saturday 2014 saw a magnificent 13 spend a good two hours clearing
litter from the Alban Way in Hatfield.
The happy team
We covered Ground Lane to
Lemsford Road on the Alban Way, just over three quarters of a mile. We used
up every bag Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council supplied so were very grateful
to the Street Wardens for their additional stocks. The photos show just
how much we cleared at one of three locations.
Some of the haul
Significant finds included a bread maker, a futon frame, a single bed and
several doors! Sadly much of the dumping is at two locations which are
regularly cleared by Serco and then get filled up again, to the rear of
Stockbreach Close. Also there are still significant dumps of items down the
side of the cycle route along the section south of Wellfield Road which we
were unable to touch as much of it was down the bottom of the steep
On the plus side there are an awful lot less beer cans and plastic bottles
at the side of the track than there were before.
Thanks go to the combined team from WelHatCycling, Welwyn
Hatfield Borough Council and Sustrans Rangers. Many hands did indeed make
for light work. A special thank you to Cathy Wilkins for getting the
picking kit to us and for the chocolate Easter eggs went well with the post
pick tea and coffee
APRIL SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
Greens Are Good For You
The complete list of Greens visited on our ride was:
- Margery Green,
- Upper Green,
- Lower Green,
- Green's Wood,
- Bulls Green,
- Sedge Green,
- Woolmer Green,
- School Green,
- Painters Green,
- Datchworth Green,
- Gover's Green,
- Burnham Green,
- Harmer Green.
That makes a total of twelve Greens, plus Green's Wood. And we could even have made a detour to add Raffin Green. But thirteen Greens on one
ride, would certainly have been an overdose and might even have been unlucky!
Six WHCF regulars were joined by two newcomers, Tom and Graham on a very pleasant ride through the country lanes to Datchworth. We purposely
took a very circuitous route in order to visit as many Village Greens as possible on the way. (Well we had to have a silly theme, didn't we?).
Something yellow for a change
We stopped for lunch at The Old Post Office Tea Rooms
on the edge of
Datchworth Green, where we indulged ourselves on a good range of food, including some very nice cakes, but sadly no Greens.
The Old Post Office Tea Rooms
Well nourished, we took a more direct route back to WGC, this time via only four Greens.
We certainly had more than our Recommended Daily Allowance of Greens, but I'm sure they were good for us!
If you would like to retrace our ride, here
is the route. You can export it
as a GPX or other format file from the EXPORT tab on this page.
MARCH SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
Sadly Tom Cruise was not be able to join our ride in homage to Jack
Reacher, but six people on bikes did with one more joining us
at Jack's cafe for the ride home.
Leaving from the Forum in Hatfield we went via Hatfield Garden Village,
a farm track to Symmonds Hyde, then on quiet lanes via an Iron Age hill
fort and a ford over the River Lea to Jack's Café
Everyone, except Freddy and Adam on the tandem, had come on mountain bikes
hoping for rough stuff but sadly most of this had dried out. Even the ford
at Wheathampstead wasn't a ford.
After a pleasant but slightly chilly lunch at the tables outside we
retraced our way past the ford and then up Dyke's Lane past the big
ditch, Nomansland Common and some more back lanes to Sandridge.
A nice signpost
We then headed for Jersey Lane which took us (almost) to the north
entrance to the Oaklands College estate from which we reached the Alban
Way and thence a swift, smooth and sunny ride back to our starting point.
We were elated to find the section of the Alban Way from Ellenbrook to
the A1001 has been newly surfaced - thanks to WHCF and Cathy in particular.
You can see our route here
You can download a gpx trace of the route here
FEBRUARY SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
Six of us set off from Hatfield Town centre with mountain bikes and one hybrid. Our mission: to cycle from Hatfield to Hertford
and back without going through Welwyn Garden City.
The forecast was for rain and wind but luckily
for us it turned out to be a very pleasant day. Our route passed through Wildhill and Essendon and covered some wet and muddy
offroad sections and some equally wet and occasionally hilly onroad sections, plus a stretch of the Cole Green Way.
Riding through a ford on the way to Essendon
We arrived in Hertford and made straight for Cafe Rouge where we had a good lunch with coffee and cakes to follow.
Our ride leader decided that a stretch of bridlepath on the intended return route was too muddy and cut up so we returned
the traditional way via Cole Green Way and Welwyn Garden City. However there was still one surprise left for us - the subway
where the Cole Green Way passes under the A414 was flooded. A couple of the more intrepid opted to cycle or walk through water
which turned out to be a good two feet deep. The rest of us climbed the bank up to the A414 and crossed there.
The extraordinary weather prevented us from completing the intended route but we will try again later in the year.
Watch this space!
Update: we completed the route later in the year.
JANUARY SATURDAY SOCIAL RIDE
To Bhaktivedanta Manor
Our first Saturday Social Ride of 2014 fell on January 11th and the
destination was Bhaktivedanta Manor near Watford. Seven people turned up
at the meeting point outside The Forum and we set off just after 11am.
We joined the Alban Way but turned left onto Smallford Lane to meet the
cycle path on the North side of the A 414. Following it west to London
Colney roundabout we crossed using the footbridge to reach London Colney
High Street. Leaving the village via St. Annes Road we turned right onto
the B5378 and then immediately left onto a bridleway which took us along
the North side of the River Colne. Although it wasn't actually raining
the ground was fairly saturated with plenty of muddy puddles to
negotiate. After passing under the M25 and over the railway we came out
through an industrial estate onto Colney Street. That is quite a busy
road so we crossed it and went South for a few hundred metres along the
footway to safely reach the track to Netherwylde Farm. From there we
joined Oakridge Lane down to High Cross and another bridleway across
fields and into the village of Letchmore Heath.
To get to Bhaktivedanta Manor by car you have to go a long way round and
approach from the South-West via a relatively new access road. Being on
bikes we managed to gain entry via a pedestrian gate in the village,
saving ourselves at least a mile of riding on fairly unpleasant roads
(it is not supposed to be a public entrance so don't count on being able
to use it if you visit). First stop was the cafe/bakery for sustenance.
There was a queue and the people behind the counter seemed to be doing
everything in slow motion but it was worth the wait. We took our curries
and deserts into a sort of conservatory with tables and chairs and had a
Bhaktivedanta Manor was donated to ISKCON by George Harrison in 1973 and
when he died in 2001 the Manor resolved to create a quiet garden in his
memory. It is worth a visit just for the gardens but we were also
offered a tour of the Manor, including rooms that were used by the
Manor's founder - A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. We had to cut the
tour short to ensure we got back before dark but we were all invited to
return when the days are longer. We retraced our route back to Hatfield,
arriving shortly before dusk.
You can see an interactive map of the route we took here
You can download a gpx trace of the route here