Monday, 7 September 2009

6 Sept: Day ride to Reed, Panshanger Airfield and Royston

Mike Stapleton writes: There were three starters at Brookside at 9am. Bob, Mike & Tom, with John and Greta joining us at Fowlmere. There was quite a breeze for the first 15 miles out to Barkway. The road seemed to be uphill all the way! We observed that the Chequers at Barley is now offering penioners lunches for £5.95 during the week.

Once we turned west at Barkway it got easier so we could enjoy the views to the north. I'm told that on a good day you can see Ely Cathedral from here. We arrived at the Silver Ball at 10.45am. The cafe was packed with motorcyclists in expensive gear. Here we met Brian, Mich Cousins, Doug and Vic.

After elevenses Brian and Mich joined us. We headed out through Therfield to Sandon. The route was well sheltered and we made good progress. We cut across to Rushden and then followed the direct route to Walkern where John and Greta turned off to head home via Bennington.

That left four of us to continue via Watton at Stone. After Watton we headed up the hill which proved quite easy to Datchworth. You can see the little Datchworth Church from miles away, perched on the top of the hill. We then climbed over the wooded hills to Tewin and down into the valley of the River Lee. There is a final short sharp climb up to Panhanger Airfield. The Blue Sky cafe was very welcoming with a good snack menu. We sat outside in the sunshine a few yards away from the parked planes within sight of the runway. You would never realise you were only about half a mile from Welwyn Garden City and less than twenty from the centre of London.

We finally got away after lunch at about half past two so we abandoned the original idea of riding out west of Stevenage. Instead we took the Old Welwyn road as far as the viaduct which carries the railway across the valley. Brian left us at this point while we headed up the long climb over the hill to Burnham Green via Harmer Green. The road swings right around the tiny green at this point. We carried on through Datchworth and down the long hill with glorious views over the hills towards Aston Green. From Bradbury End there is another climb up to Aston Green which, even though it is close to Stevenage, is still a real village. Then down into the valley of the River Bean and yet another hill up to the Walkern Road. I pointed out that there was a steeper way further up the valley. We returned via Walkern, Cromer and Rushden where Bob and Mich headed for home via Ashwell. Tom and I returned via Sandon to Royston where we joined the afternoon ride at the Heath Cafe.

Today was a hard but very enjoyable ride, with glorious scenery and generally good weather. Mike Stapleton.

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