Ride Level: Moderate
CX/Gravel or MTB | GPX Route | Roads, Cycle paths & trails | 32 miles / 32 kms
Take advantage of Thameslink and catch a train out to St Albans and enjoy the countryside that’s embarrassingly easy to access from all parts of London, even the deepest grimiest parts of the Sauf!
It’s a gentle romp through woods and open fields, continually stumbling across hidden gems that include Charles II’s secret love nest and the shed in which the WWII Mosquito fighter jet was born.
Catch the train to St Albans (5 per hour from London) decant yourself and head for the Alban bike path, which you follow until it gives up the ghost on the outskirts of St Albans. There’s a bit on the road until you reach the ancient Bricket Wood and you’re off-road in woods and wide bridleways for the foreseeable.
Skirt London Colney, past the Arsenal FC training grounds, which are very much smarter than the following Watford FC ones until you stumbled across Salisbury Hall an Elizabethan moated manor house with a raunchy history. At one point Charles II and Nell Gwynn’s secret love nest, later the site where de Havilland prototyped the WWII Mosquito fighter plane and later reincarnation as the factory/plantation that grew the silkworms that produced the late Queen’s Wedding dress and Coronation robes. All this within minutes and Hatfield and the M25 - woozers!
There’s a reassuringly shabby signpost for the de Havilland Museum - do follow it, its a gem, a field scattered with bits of fuselage, the shop crammed with folk with deep knowledge of aviation history, a shop packed with Airfix kits and a damn good cafe…what more could you ask for?
Struggle through Hatfield before you cross the sandy wastes of Hertfordshire and into Symondshyde Great Wood with its magnificent Scotts Pines standing tall. This wood gives way to Heartfield Wood one of England's new forests, a great collection of meadows and woodland with a labyrinth of rideable gravel paths.
Finally, you drop down into Verularium, the site of the original Roman town and home to the unfortunate Alban.
Alban was a conscious fellow who fell in with a Christian priest in a time when such a fellowship wasn’t advisable. The long and short of it is the priest got away and Alban was put to death in his stead, however when Alban was led to his death, across a small river and up a slope, he became thirsty and asked for water, alas, none was forthcoming from the escorting Romans. Nevertheless, upon Alban’s request, at his feet a spring burst forth and he was able to slake his thirst before being beheaded. Once killed his head rolled back down the hill, where it came to rest and yet another spring burst forth with angels and archangels flying around, praising God and saying….enough, enough…..
I like to believe that you follow Alban's footsteps up to the Abbey Cathedral and the medieval city streets.
Start point: St Albans City Station
End Point: St Albans City Station
Places to visit
13 miles: de Havilland Museium
31 miles: Verulamium Museum
Places to Eat
13 miles: de Havilland Museum
- Distance: 52 km | 32 miles
- Climb: 470m | 1500 ft
- Trail Surface: Natural, Gravel and Tarmac
- Percentage off-road: Approx 60%
- Technical Grade: Blue – non-technical, suitable for novices and near novices with reasonable levels of fitness and those looking to progress their riding ability
Is this ride for me?
Moderate ride on maintained mainly all-weather trails and quiet country lanes.
Is my bike OK for this ride?
Bikes suitable for this ride include off-road bikes, for example, Mountain, gravel and CX bikes, In the summer, hybrids and road bikes fitted with all-terrain tyres will be fine.