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Archive for June 2016

Mackerye End Gardens

Posted on Wednesday 22 June 2016 by Charles Harvey

I have to confess that I’m not that interested in gardening but my last three rides have been to a flower show and to two gardens open to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS). They make for a pleasant destination for a ride and usually have the added attraction of excellent cake stalls.

This ride was to Mackerye End, a grade 1 listed manor house. I’d cycled past it many times but this was the first opportunity I’d had to visit it so I jumped at the chance. Eight met up at St Albans. There was a bit of a hiccup as one of our number realised that she had left a pannier on the train so while she spoke to the station staff about it I rang ahead to confirm lunch.

We left St Albans through Bernards Heath, had a quick look at the pre-Roman fortifications to the north of the town, then rode on through Sandridgebury, Sandridge, Nomansland Common to Wheathampstead. There had been error over the train times in the rides list so we had an extra half hour before lunch. Some went for a short extra ride, others looked round the village.

After lunch at The Swan, we passed though Ayot St Lawrence. The chance to visit Shaw’s Corner, the former home of Bernard Shaw, playwright and CTC member, now owned by The National Trust, proved a greater attraction for some than a garden so some went there while the rest of us rode on to Mackerye End. The garden there was an interesting contrast to the one at the manor house at Ayot St Lawrence which I’d led a ride to two weeks previously. It was bigger, less manicured and had some wild areas at the edge. I leave it to others who know more about gardening than I do to add to this account.

Mackerye End

Mackerye End

After tea, it was a short ride to Harpenden. We had to go up an evil hill at Crabtree Lane to get to the station about 1.630.


Ayot St Lawrence Manor House Gardens

Posted on Wednesday 8 June 2016 by Charles Harvey

This must rank as one of the shortest CLCTC rides on record. It only involved about just over two hours cycling but the object of the ride was to visit the gardens at Ayot St Lawrence Manor House, open to the public one day a year as part of the National Gardens Scheme (NGS).

There were no problems with the trains so nine riders gathered promptly and we set off. We exited Welwyn Garden City  through Sherrardspark Wood and rode through country lanes via Ayot St Peter to The Swan at Wheathampstead. Due to our prompt start, we got to the village early for lunch and had time to look at some of the places on interest, including the old station with a statue of Bernard Shaw, its most famous passenger, and the grave and monument of Ashley Cherry-Garrard, the Antarctic explorer.

At Wheathampstead Station

At Wheathampstead Station

As usual, we had a good lunch and prompt service at The Swan and did the short ride to Ayot St Lawrence. The garden opening had been publicized in The Daily Telegraph as well as by the NGS and had attracted a lot of visitors so unusually there were traffic jams made worse by a car that had broken down. We put our bikes down and helped push the car to a position where it didn’t block the road.

The garden itself was superb. No expense had been spared. There were fountains, ornate gates, a walled garden and some areas where the grass had been deliberately left long to encourage wild flowers. Also, there was a tea tent with a large array of delicious things to eat.

We spent about an hour and a half in the garden and the headed back to WGC arriving at the station at about 16.30.

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