People On Bikes

Past Events from 2014

December 2014


Verulamium Variations

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 2014


Beyond Wildhill

This was our second attempt to get from Hatfield to Hertford and back without going into Welwyn Garden City. On our previous attempt in February 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 and return journeys.

July 2014


Trotters Bottom

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
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 Michael's Boulangerie 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.

Here is our route

June 2014


Scott's Grotto

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.

Scott's Grotto 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 explore.

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.

Scotts Grotto
Scotts Grotto

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.


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.

Here is our route.

May 2014


Steaming Cyclists

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 suggested route and try it yourselves.

April 2014


Easter Saturday 2014 saw a magnificent 13 spend a good two hours clearing litter from the Alban Way in Hatfield.

The Team
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.

The Litter
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 embankment.

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


Greens Are Good For You

The complete list of Greens visited on our ride was: 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?).

Mustard field
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
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 2014


Jacks Jersey

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 in Wheathampstead.

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
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 2014


Beyond Wildhill.

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 2014


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 pleasant lunch.

Bhaktivedanta Manor

Bhaktivedanta Manor

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

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