St Alban’s & the Lea Valley

Eleven of us gathered at Bromley South at 9am. After buying a variety of combinations of super-saver and freedom pass tickets we boarded the 0920 for Blackfriars. We spread ourselves out along the train and the trip was uneventful. At Blackfriars we disembarked and walked to the adjacent platform to learn that our train to St Alban’s was delayed so we ended up waiting 15 minutes before getting on our way again.

The second leg of the journey was slow due to engineering works so we got into St Albans at 1100 and here met the Croydon/Sutton team – Toni, Mike Ian, and our own Tessa who had caught an earlier train. So fifteen of us actually set off from St Alban’s, the start was a bit faltering as we got our bearings but we were soon heading out on the St Alban’s Cycleway with Eve leading and John navigating. Since our last visit the Cycleway has been tarmacced to a very high standard, so where in the past we had been able to make good progress today we were making really good progress. After a couple of miles we turned off the Cycleway towards Colney. This was a turning we had overshot before and was slightly off the planned route but actually worked well as it led directly down to the bridge over the roaring A414.

Continuing south-eastwards we made good progress on roads with very little traffic. We passed through North Mymms and Welham Green before crossing the A1000 Great North Road and so onto the most rural part of our journey where we saw few cars, though we did have to overtake a couple of very docile horses.

We arrived at Broxbourne at 1 pm and decided to go into the Queens Head Pub for lunch. This also gave another rider the opportunity to come and find us. He had ridden from Bromley up the LeaRiver, in the end he didn’t join us. The Queens Head was clearly displaying adverts for Home Cooked Food so we were a little taken aback when they told us that they actually didn’t serve food at all. We decided that we would just order some tea and buy some food from the nearby seafood caravan. Unfortunately the pub didn’t serve tea either, and then the final straw when someone wanted a tomato juice and that was likewise unavailable. It is quite difficult to mention anything to commend this establishment.

We dined in the pub garden on chips and cold seafood and most of us got really quite chilled in the cool, damp, murky conditions. Those that had brought there own sandwiches were feeling particularly smug at this point.

From the Queens Head we made our way to the River Lea and turned towards London. Our progress was steady until after 4-5 miles at Waltham Cross we came to the Riverside Cafe which was open. We piled in for a warm up and were soon being served hot tea, chocolate, soup and a variety of cakes and sweets. We were soon warm and ready for a restart.

The Cafe was Warm & Welcoming

The Cafe was Warm & Welcoming

The towpath was relatively free of walkers and dogs so we were able to rattle along at 14 mph. at Enfield Lock we paused to watch a very long narrow boat called Intrepid enter the lock as it made its way upstream. The driver skilfully held the boat in mid stream in the lock as it filled without the need for throwing a line to the man on the shore. Very impressive.

The Riders at Enfield Lock

The Riders at Enfield Lock

Departing Enfield Lock with the light of the day beginning to fade quite quickly we continued on towards and past Tottenham Hale. By the time we got to the lower reaches of the River it was quite dark but we found our way without trouble to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel where thankfully we found that the lifts were working.

The Lift at Greenwich Foot Tunnel. (who says you can't 15 cyclists in the cabin)

The Lift at Greenwich Foot Tunnel. (who says you can’t 15 cyclists in the cabin)

At Greenwich we said good bye to two riders as we headed down the Waterlink way and were back in Bromley by 6.30 pm.

This was an excellent ride with great riders who worked hard to keep the pace up so we could make up for time lost on the original train journey.

We will do the ride again in the spring and perhaps next time spend a little more time on The St Alban’s Cycleway which seems a very nice piece of cycling infrastructure.

Well done to all today’s riders. You were great cyclists and great company.

Total 47 miles.

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