Another team of 11 Windmillers gathered at The Golden Fleece in Braughing at 9.15am, earlier than usual in order to place their orders for lunch with landlord Pete (who sometimes rides with us). Having got our priorities right we then proceeded in an anti-clockwise direction towards Hertford to shed a few calories before piling them back on again a few hours later when celebrating birthday boy Andrew’s big day.
The formidable team comprised centre forward / captain Maurice, wingers Tom and Brian, forwards Keith and Rick, mid-fielders Ken, John B and Lawrence, backs Sandra and Martin, and goalie Andrew. Donning their kit they were soon clocking up the miles on a picturesque ride that Maurice had created through quiet lanes, yet close to large areas of population at times. But, as a Hertfordshire lad, this was familiar territory for Maurice who knew all the back doubles including bridleways, river paths and car parks. Here is the route taken:
After traversing quiet lanes to Hertford the team then cycled down the towpath alongside the River Lea as far as Ware to fill up with excellent coffee and cakes.
Suitably fortified, we then continued down the Lea to Stanstead Abbotts stopping to admire Amwell Nature Reserve, a former gravel quarry and now one of the RSPB’s foremost sites for watching a mix of inland and marine birds – well worth a longer visit. Amongst the sightings that day was a cuckoo, cormorants and bar-tailed godwits.
Then it was time to turn northwards back to Braughing via Widford and its attractive church
and then crossing the River Rib at Maurice’s old stamping ground, Barwick Ford, where his grandfather once filled up his traction engine trailer with water.
After 32 miles we were back at The Golden Fleece where we received a warm welcome and tucked into an excellent lunch, washed down with a large round of birthday drinks supplied courtesy of the birthday boy himself. Thanks Andrew!!
Thanks also to Maurice for organising the ride and to Deputy Dawg Andrew for getting us to the starting line on time.
Revd Holy Moley Martin