We begin our journey at Clophill village green by the Flying Horse, famous for highway men in the past but for bistro food and a friendly ambiance today. First we are going to pedal along the High Street where homes reflect the passing of time of two centuries, but before we reach the iron stone church of St Mary’s, and just after the school, we will turn left up Great Lane. I love the simple village road names ~ Great ~ because it travels in an undulating fashion all the way to Haynes, Church End.
On the way, after the first major incline (major for me anyway) you can catch a glimpse of the ruin of the Old Church of Haynes, recently restored enough so that you can walk up the tower and admire the magnificent views to Hitchin and the Barton Ridge. A village initiative is on the verge of completion, to provide a centre for walkers on The Greensands Ridge. This should be a wonderful resource for the area. On foot, or perhaps by mountain bike, you could detour beside the old church and take a path through Pedley Woods and to Chicksands Wood (an official assault course track for cyclists) but then you would miss Haynes altogether. At the top of Great Lane it is worth pausing to admire the view towards Haynes Park (setting for the murder in my mystery back in 1919) Its drive sweeps away from the manor and down towards the church of Haynes, also St Mary’s, where you may find the grave of Nelly Rault, the Jersey lass whose unsolved murder back in 1919 originally inspired my novel ‘Murder, now and then.’ Unike Clophill, Haynes Church End is totally unspoilt and would have been recognisable to Nelly, were she able to time travel nearly 100 years. Continue cycling through this little hamlet and on for a couple of miles until you can see the village of Haynes on the brow of the hill to the left. Taking this left turn the road is steep and, if you can catch your breath you may enjoy glancing at the thatched cottages along the way. The village of Haynes (Silver End ~ I’d love to know why silver?) is a lively hub with a post office and thriving village hall, enjoying a variety of events from Am Dram, music and of course The Haynes 100 (referred to earlier in my blog) At the cross roads turn right towards Haynes North End, passing the Village Hall and Recreation Ground, and then further on is The Greyhound Public House, a welcome spot to quench your thirst or even to catch a snack or meal to build energy for the cycle back. After a refreshing break you could continue passing Chicksands Woods on your right and, if you have excess energy, you could detour along its numerous tracks. If not, it is here you reach the A600. To avoid the main road you could turn around and return by taking a left fork to meet the lane to Church End Haynes. Or, you could turn right and cycle along the A600 towards Shefford. After crossing two busy roundabouts you can turn right on the A507 back towards Ampthill but there is a cycle track on your right hand side all the way back to Clophill, a fairly flat ride to end your journey. Follow the cycle track and you can’t miss it! Have you any spare energy? You could always take a detour up Little Lane (just off Great Lane) turning left at the top. You will pass between Clophill Village Hall and Rec before a small hill descends to Mill Lane which
winds to your right along to Back Street and The Stone Jug ~ a real pub in the evening where villagers still meet and mingle, putting the world to rights before strolling home. Food is only served at The Jug at lunch times. Further along Back Street you could avoid the last stretch on the A6 by taking a left turn at Readshill. At the bottom turn right and you will see a path beside Beverley Court. It would be safer to dismount here since the footpath is used by children and elderly, but it will lead you past The Green Man, well known for its wonderful Italian food, and out on to Clophill Village Green. The outdoor cafe by the post office offers welcome refreshments which you can eat on benches provided near the stream ~ an area much enhanced over the last few years by the work of enthusiastic villagers. Or, if it is late Friday afternoon, you might even catch the fish and chip van and treat yourself to supper! (This Mio Bedfordshire Virtual Tour is not only to show that Bedfordshire is worth visiting too, but explores the settings for my recently released murder mystery ‘Murder, now and then.‘