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09 Oct: Hatfield to Broom

posted 12 Oct 2016, 23:56 by South Herts   [ updated 9 Dec 2016, 03:29 ]
It's Sunday 9 October and Bill is due to lead the ride, but unfortunately he is sick. So I (Peter) have volunteered to do it. At the start in Hatfield there are only three of us so it's going to be an easy ride to lead. Our first stop is Hitchin, so away we go via St Paul's Walden and country lanes. It is a little chilly, but the sun is shining and the countryside looks stunningly beautiful, especially when we go through woods with sunlight dappling through the trees. Near Preston the spell is broken somewhat by Easyjet planes from Luton roaring overhead. Then it's downhill all the way to "The Hitchin Kitchen” an excellent and very popular cafe run by East Europeans (this remark can be interpreted how you wish depending on your views on Brexit).

The Cock at Broom 161009
Well I say it is popular as nine further cyclists associated with our group are already there, so now we are eleven. Off we go again threading our way through the back streets of Hitchin and out into the countryside. From now on it's relatively flat for the eleven miles to 'The Cock' at Broom, our lunch stop. Now we have been there before without any problems, and one of us orders a sandwich without question, but once more of us in the queue start to order the landlord panics and decides there are too many of us, we haven’t booked and he can’t do us sandwiches for 45 minutes. As some of us already have our drinks we decide to down these while debating what to do. We decide we wouldn't go to a different pub as this could all take too long and instead we’ll go to Shefford and buy sandwiches in the Morrisons supermarket there. This works out well (much cheaper than a pub) and we sit outside on a wall to eat our lunch. On the way there we spotted a well-preserved traction engine and trailer.

Traction engine near Shefford 161009
Three of our party had left so now eight of us continue south. We go through Hexton and then up the steep and almost never ending Gravel Hill to cross the Icknield Way. Then it’s through Lilley before joining Lilley Bottom for an easy run with the wind behind to Emily's tearoom in Whitwell. Our timing is pretty good as just before getting there it starts to rain and then, when we get inside, it hammers down. So we delay our departure by eking out our tea and cakes until the rain stops. From here on the group breaks up, going their separate ways home. Some, including me go back to the start, completing about 60 miles in all from start to finish.

PeterR 09/10/2016