By the Bike Racks, Heartwood Forest Car Park, off St Albans Road (B651, by Tara's Retreat, between Sandridge and Wheathamstead), Sandridge AL4 9DQ
Astonishingly, this rural idyll is just 30 miles outside London. Riding out of Normansland Common, we ride alongside hedgerows and wooded glades, up and down out of valleys into the lesser-known and stunning North East Chilterns. You can stop at Shaw's Corner (former home of George Bernard Shaw) and drop in for a treat at Emily's Tea Shop, a mecca for local cyclists. Look out for red kites on the road up to Bendish as you return via Harpenden.