No.21 Hidden Hertfordshire


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19 thoughts on “No.21 Hidden Hertfordshire”

  1. Another great ride! Herts is the county I know best. I’ve visited many of the same villages, but this route manages to cover the same ground using many minor lanes I’ve never ridden.

    I’ve done Shaws Corner before. What I was most pleased about was that you had worked out how to access the track through Wellbury to reach Great Offley. I’ve always given up trying to go that way before. Wellbury is an interesting off-road community.

    1. Rode this yesterday and it was very enjoyable except the section along the B655 (horrible main road) and the track mentioned by George above which is definitely not suitable for road bikes (mountain bikes would cope ok).

      1. Hi Pjay
        Glad you enjoyed it. Am surprised you found the track through Wellbury too rough for your road bike. I found it absolutely fine on mine and so have many others who’ve come this way. It’s mostly surfaced, fairly flat, a bit of loose gravel, but not muddy or rutted. Certainly no worse than the average canal towpath or cinder ex-railway line track.
        If you wish to ride this route in future, then you could avoid both the B-road and the track by taking a right turn just before the bridge over the A505 this will bring you to Great Offley, and cut off about 10km from the total distance.

        1. Hi Jack,

          I think it must have deteriorated in the last twelve months. There is a kilometre or so of potholes and ruts connected by thin strips of rideable road ‘surface’ where it’s pretty difficult to stay on your bike at walking pace. It turns back into a surfaced lane after this section.


          1. Possibly but more likely is that we have different takes on what’s rideable on a road bike!

          2. Ha! Not exactly. But it’s true that everyone comes to cycling from a different place and it’s good to receive feedback in terms of what people are finding rideable versus not rideable (sometimes it’s the same track!).

            Generally it seems that people are happier with rough tracks than muddy tracks. But everyone has their own preferences and tolerances. Traditional ‘road bikes’ are too often one-trick ponies, designed for taking part in races on well-surfaced roads (though the pros seem to manage well on rougher stuff in races like Paris Roubiax and Strade Bianche). It’s a shame and a real missed opportunity, as there’s so much more that is much more enjoyable with a 32mm tyre compared to a 23mm tyre. Fortunately the new genre of gravel, crossover and adventure road bikes seem to be taking a more sensible approach to the lightweight drop-bar bike, some with tyres up to 40mm.

            Anyway, thanks for your feedback, I’ll be sure to return to the track ahead of the 2nd edition of the book to check it out for myself. And I’m always glad to see photographs of any roads, lanes and tracks in the book that might be causing people problems.

  2. Hi Jack
    This was our first ride from your book. Map and directions were first class
    This was a great ride – quiet and almost totally car free.

    We drove up from N London – 20 min to Knebworth. Only had time for half a loop – early on a rainy windy Sunday morning.
    But the sun came out at the end.

    On of the best things is that you can ‘cut across’ the loop at a number of points to make a shorter ride if time is short. Which we did.

    Thanks again
    Martin and Guida

  3. I start this loop at Harpenden Station, joining it at Whitwell and extending it up to Apsley in the north, Sharpenhoe (a steep climb!) to the north east and returning to Harpenden via the Ayot Greenway (railway track cycle path) from Welwyn in the South. That brings it up to around 90k at which point my geriatric joints give in.

  4. A lovely ride with good, clear directions. The village of Ayot St Lawrence features on the CTC Cycle Quest card for Hertfordshire. I have a handful of County cards from a few years ago and this ride has reawakened my interest in the challenge.

  5. What a lovely ride. One thing to note if you’re aiming for lunch in the Red Lion at Preston (like we were), is that they only serve food til 2pm, unlike most of the others we passed which served til 3pm. Which was unlucky for us as we arrived at 2.30pm!

  6. Pros don’t have pay for their bikes if they break them though, do they? I was on a carbon road bike with 23 mm tyres which was definitely a lot of fun on the rest of the route, but I would take my steel framed bike with wider tyres if I was going to ride that section again. I didn’t take any photos as evidence, unfortunately, as I was too busy hanging on for dear life!

    Anyway, I’m actually going to buy your book now to see if there are any other routes worth riding in there after this free ‘taster’ from the LCC website.

  7. I did this ride again today having done it a few times before. Absolutely love the route and mostly peaceful lanes.
    I tried the shortcut as the roads were a bit muddy and wet and I thought I’d cut out the off-road bit today (i’ve done it in the past on a road bike and been fine, just didnt fancy it today). I tried the shortcut you suggested along Hollybush Hill just before the A505, which was okay, but I wonder if Luton White Hill a little earlier might have been a little quieter so I might give it a try next time.

  8. This weekend we did this route for a second time. The next few weeks are absolutely perfect for enjoying it, as the bluebells are spectacular. We did the full route last time, and as per the comments above, didn’t enjoy the Little Offley track on our thinner road tyres. This time we cut across just before the A505 to Great Offley. Just one pointer for people doing the route for the first time – the turn by Claggy Cottage just north of Kimpton is quite easy to get wrong. And the Red Lion at Preston is pretty perfect as a lunch stop pub. All in all, a JT classic route!

  9. This is one of my favourite Lost Lanes rides. The scenery is fantastic and riding is mostly on lanes or quiet roads; plus we had nice tea and cake at Emily’s tea shop.

    We avoided the B655 by heading further north at Hexton, following a quiet road to Pirton then taking the signed Chilterns Cycleway back to the B655 where you are directly opposite the turnoff on the original route. The Cycleway path is completely off road but we had no trouble on a touring bike/hybrid with 32mm tyres. Honestly if you can do the next stretch of the original route, where the road’s not in great shape, you’ll be just fine.

    The route we followed is here:

  10. Very enjoyable ride today through countryside decked in beautiful spring colours and picturesque villages – even if weather remained bracingly chilly for most of the day. Made unplanned and early stop at Spokes Cycles Cafe on Ridge Farm near Codicote (AL6 9UA), for coffee; everyone there very friendly and helpful. Jack’s route instructions are very clear and helpful. Most of the lanes on the route are named and the names are usually marked on signs at the junctions; I found this helpful for making sure I went in the right direction each time I reached a turning, using a printout of the route instructions from the the Lost Lanes website, rather than checking the map each time. The uphill and downhill bits seem to cancel each other out nicely and I found I could get round the route quickly without too much trouble. I didn’t have time on this occasion to take a break from the ride and walk up Deacon’s Hill for the view: will leave that for another day.

  11. As always when I do a Lost Lanes ride, I really enjoyed this.
    I extended it a little to slog up to Sharpenhoe where there was a CTC British Cycle Quest answer to be found (likewise in Ayot St Lawrence)
    It’s a shame that the watercress beds at Whitwell have largely dried up over the last couple of years.
    I usually regret not checking out other people’s comments before doing the ride -and I’m afraid I agree with a previous comment about the state of the track that goes through Wellbury. I have a cyclocross bike that usually copes with anything – but this was the first time that I got a puncture. Or two… The route is also confusing as it isn’t signposted Park View Stables from the road. Plus at the 3 legged crossroads once on the route the signposting is for New Wellbury Business park, New Wellbury Farmhouse, and Park View Stables. And It’s none of these – it’s the unsignposted track! However, I do always like to get off a busy road and I also like shortcuts. I have the first edition of the book so maybe changes have been made.

  12. Completed this today and really enjoyed it, thanks Jack.

    Regarding the rough section being discussed above, an update on the latest and to answer some of the queries. In total, the rough section is around a mile long. It is marked on Komoot as “Little Offley – gravel road and beautiful farmland” and there are some pictures if you want a better idea.

    The first half is the equivalent to a pretty beaten up canal towpath (rutted – for those familiar with Lee Valley, think the more northern parts), but it was easy enough to pick a clean line through it. The next quarter was ‘paved’, but in a bad way and there was actually an excavator there making it worse (looked more like farm work or laying cables than repairs). Finally, the last quarter was loose gravel, uphill. This was the toughest part and pretty slippy, but I managed it as a novice on 700 28mm tyres. This section would only take about 5 minutes to walk if you’re not keen and it’s nice scenery to take in anyway.

    Finished the ride with a lovely pint at the Strathmore Arms in St Pauls Walden (~10 km before finish). Robin Hood & Little John is also a good spot (you pass it on the way out, but would need to reroute a tiny bit on the way back).

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