Seven of us gathered at the start point. We have moved the meeting place slightly, we now congregate under Morrisons canopy more or less opposite the Woodstock Road junction, which keeps us dry and avoids causing congestion around the cycle stands. For the ride we split the group into a Further Faster trio and a Fabulous four.
The FF group went sprinting off along the Alban Way, although they had to slow down a bit to scramble over the fallen tree. They went up through Chiswell Green and Potters Crouch, crossed the Hemel Hempstead Road and along Beechtree Lane towards Gorhambury. Oops, we had completely forgotten that Gorhambury Walk is closed to the public on Saturdays from 1 September to 1 February. Fortunately, several Land Rovers drew up at the gate and disgorged people with guns, so our riders then remembered about the shooting season and instead of getting into trouble, headed back to the A4147 and hightailed it to Verulamium Park. They were well ensconced in the Inn on the Park by the time the Fabulous four arrived.
The Fab four were actually five for much of the morning, as they picked up a late-running rider as they headed east along the Alban Way. The quintet then wended their way through the orchards of Hill End and Cell Barnes Hospitals, now encompassed by Highfield Park. There were still quite a few apples on trees and on the ground, but it was rainy and the group opted to keep riding. They went all the way up London Road as far as the shared footway goes, crossed over at the toucan and headed down to the Watercress Wildlife Association nature reserve at the end of Riverside Road.
We almost don't want to tell you about this hidden gem, it is so secluded and peaceful. It includes an orchard, and there were apples on sale.
One rider opted for a shorter morning and headed for home at that point, the remaining four carried on to the Inn on the Park for coffee and chat.
The rain never quite let up but we still had an enjoyable morning.