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Cycling in North Herts

North Hertfordshire is ideal for cycling. The countryside is rolling and attractive without being physically challenging. Towns are small enough that you can cycle from any point to the centre in 5 minutes. They are close together, typically no more than 10 or 15 minutes from one to its neighbour, and nowhere are you more than 20 minutes ride from a railway station.

Each town has a different character. Hitchin and Royston are historic market towns, Baldock is a medieval "service station" on the old North Road. Letchworth was the first of the Garden Cities while Stevenage, its near neighbour, was the first 20th century "new town".

Away from the towns there is a wealth of attractive country lanes and pretty villages to be explored. In the towns there have been few concessions to make cycling safe and attractive. Dedicated cycling infrastructure is rare and generally of very poor quality – creating more problems than solutions. A comprehensive cycle network plan was drawn up in 1999 but there has been little attempt to build it. Stevenage is the exception, with a high quality cycle network built in the 1950s that sadly has not kept pace with more recent expansion.

Sustrans' Great North Route NCN12 runs through Letchworth and Stevenage, although many riders will be disappointed by the poor quality of design and construction, and the lack of directness. For those who like getting their tyres muddy there is also the ancient Ickneild Way trackway that runs east-west through the district.

North Herts boasts several active cycling clubs to suit all tastes. CTC run 2-3 rides per week from Stevenage or Hitchin. Nomads have weekly club runs from Hitchin as well as time trials through the summer. CC Ashwell have 3 club rides per week as well as time trials, road racing, velodrome sessions and a youth section.

Other areas …

Latest photos of the area

See also a full list of photos in this area.

Route sign for NCN route 12 north from Letchworth station (then I think there's an unsigned right turn).

Short stretch of shared-use footway west from Letchworth station

More new two-tier cycle parking at Letchworth station

Two-tier parking at Letchworth station, replacing #46327

It is the end of the route, although a Cyclists Rejoin Carriageway sign might make more sense.

Cycle parking at Letchworth library

NCN route 12 crosses both carriageways and turns left towards Letchworth station

Link west from NCN route 12 in Letchworth

NCN route 12 on a shared-use path in Letchworth (and a cyclist on the road)

NCN route 12 on a shared-use path past a bus-stop.

NCN route 12 crosses Broadway and takes the shared-use footway to central Letchworth

NCN route 12 heading south from Letchworth

The UK's first roundabout, c1909

I've idea whether NCN route 12 passes on the near or far side of the flowerbed.

Route signs where NCN route 12 crosses the A505 south of Letchworth.

Start of shared-use path to the crossing over the A505 on NCN route 12 south from Letchworth (and a cycle stand at a closed shop).

End of shared-use route, apparently, on NCN route 12 south from Letchworth

Start of shared-use path into central Letchworth

The cycle route from Hitchin to Letchworth turns left off the A505 (unsigned) and rejoins the carriageway.

The shared-use route from Letchworth to Hitchin crosses the road here

The shared-use route from Hitchin to Letchworth crosses the road here

It would be easy to remove the barriers and make this fit for cycling.

Shared-use path with Cyclists Dismount sign - the route goes past the bus stop and crosses the road at the Toucan crossing.

Bollards on the shared-use path into Letchworth

Going from Letchworth to Hitchin (no great distance) it's clear there's a shared-use path - in the other direction you wouldn't have a clue.

Road closure with no proper provision for cycling.

Road closure with no proper provision for cycling.

Northern access to Walsworth Common, Hitchin

Ramp and steps to Walsworth Common, Hitchin

Footpath to Walsworth Common, Hitchin

End of the route past Sainsbury's, Hitchin

Route past Sainsbury's, Hitchin - no link to the cycleway across the stream.

Path through Bancroft Gardens, Hitchin

Junction of paths out of Bancroft Gardens, Hitchin

Footpath from Sainsbury's to Bancroft Gardens, Hitchin

Route past Sainsbury's, Hitchin

Route past Sainsbury's, Hitchin

Cycle parking, Bancroft Gardens, Hitchin

Bike shop, Hitchin

Cycle stands as you enter Hitchin town centre

One side of Hitchin's Market Place is a cycle route

There are a couple of cycle stands at each corner of the Market Place in Hitchin

No Motor Vehicles in Hitchin churchyard (except for loading) and a traffic-free road alongside.

Cycle parking on the edge of Hitchin's shopping centre

The gate to Hitchin's High St - now traffic-free 7 days a week.

2 cycle stands opposite the gate to Hitchin's High St - now traffic-free 7 days a week.

Family cycling (in the distance) on the path across Butts Close, Hitchin

Start of byway from central Hitchin to the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve

Byway to central Hitchin

Link from the byway between central Hitchin and the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve

Start of byway to central Hitchin

Start of byway to the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Rough stretch of the byway from the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve to Hitchin

Byway from the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve to Hitchin (and parallel footpath to the right).

Byway past the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Gate on the footpaths out of the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Footpath through the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Footpath out of the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Cycle route through the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Overhead barrier with No Horses sign - no cycling either on this footpath out of the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Unnecessary barrier on this link from Burford Way to the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Link from the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Cycle route through the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Map of cycle routes through the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Unnecessary obstructions at the start of the route through the Oughtonhead Common Nature Reserve, Hitchin

Convenient service road parallel to the A600 Bedford Road, and crossing to a path with a No Cycling sign (although OpenCycleMap shows it as a cycle route).

End of the paved bridleway past Hitchin Rugby Club to Bedford Road

Paved bridleway past Hitchin Rugby Club to Bedford Road

Entry to Hitchin Rugby Club and start of the bridleway to Bedford Rd - there's an unsigned left turn almost at once.

Paved footpath off Strathmore Avenue, Hitchin

No Bicycles at the rear of Ickleford church

The Icknield Way east from the East Coast Main Line railway bridge

Wheeling channel on the Icknield Way footbridge over the East Coast Main Line railway

Route signs on the Icknield Way

Bridge on the Icknield Way - easier to use the footbridge if it's clear.

Gate on the Icknield Way - rough but cycleable from here to the railway bridge.

Modal filter, Hitchin

Start of on-road cycle lane

Northern exit from Ransom's Recreation Ground, Hitchin

Routes at the north end of Ransom's Recreation Ground, Hitchin

The route through Ransom's Recreation Ground, Hitchin

Narrow start of the route through Ransom's Recreation Ground, Hitchin

Crossing from the Ransom's Recreation Ground, Hitchin

Left-turn cycle lane - not so much for access to Dacre Road, but for the crossing to Ransom's Recreation Ground

No Cycling on this section of path - but there's a good alternative just to the west via Wadnall Way.

Footpath to Knebworth station

Start of bridleway

Bridleway

Start of bridleway

Sign for bridleway - but you need to continue a little further on the road to find the actual access.

Some minor rat-running has been blocked by making the east side of this junction cycles-only.

Two-tier covered cycle parking at Knebworth station

Two-tier covered cycle parking at Knebworth station

Wheeling channel on a railway bridge on the bridleway from Ickleford to Letchworth (the Icknield Way Path)

Fallen tree

Spokes cycle cafe near Codicote

Ford on Fulling Mill Lane

Cycleway next to the A505 taken from a coach returning from Heathrow to Cambridge.

Byway to Ashwell

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