In the 1960s, over 5,000 miles of railway lines were axed – a shame for train spotters, but fantastic for cyclists since many disused tracks have been converted into traffic free cycling walks and trails. We’re exploring some of the best, and this week we’re detailing a commuter friendly ride through Hertfordshire.
Words: Maria David
The Ride: Alban Way, Hertfordshire
Where: St Albans to Hatfield
How far: 6.5 miles
From 1865 the Hatfield and St Albans Railway transported passengers between these two towns. Unfortunately, the line couldn’t compete with the more popular Midland Railway between St Albans and London, so it closed in 1968. People traffic between Hatfield and St Albans now takes the form of lots of cyclists along the Alban Way.
The fully tarmacked, smooth path has lots of turnings and makes for a convenient traffic-free commuter cycle path to reach different parts of the two towns.
Nine-time national cyclo cross champion and ambassador for women’s cycling, Helen Wyman has great memories of the Alban way from her younger days – she told us: “I was born in St. Albans and my house was actually at the end of the path. When I was back at uni in Hatfield I used it all the time to get between there and Welwyn or St. Albans, where me and my friends used to go shopping. In fact I even made my uni friends ride with me a couple of times. You couldn’t imagine how tough it is to fit my 5ft friend onto one of my bikes!
“It’s great for groups who just want to chat and exercise and I used to find it so easy to use to get to places – so much nicer than using the busy main road.”