Prostate Pedallers Blog

Nickey Line - Harpenden to Hemel


A 9.30am start at the Oval saw Dave, Mark, Ivan and Andy set off for Hemel Hempstead. Two regular bikes and two e-bikes were the rides of choice. Lots of new purchases on show including Dave's Canyon, Ivan's fleece and Andy's Rockbros frame bag. Very exciting especially as they have fallen outside of Xmas present status. Well done all..good work!


Clear skies and the sun desperately trying to provide a hint of warmth couldn't stop the morning chill but the Pedallers always come prepared and hats, gloves, fleeces and jackets were on display.


Despite the Nickey Line being a disused railway route, it still managed to offer up plenty of mud and some slippery challenging sections - not that many but enough to keep you concentrated on staying upright.


Cycling the line, which opened in 1877, always conjures up images of steam trains chugging along and people waiting at the small platforms such as Roundwood Halt which is still fairly intact. While passenger trains stopped running in 1947, freight trains continued until the late 1970's when the local councils stepped in, purchased the line and opened it up to walkers and cyclists in the early 80's. Good for them as they provide great routes for groups like the PP's!


The 13-14 mile round trip was covered in fairly quick time and a stop off at Redbourn on the way back was required to call Bob to let him know our ETA at the Oval Café. Dave provided the coffee and cakes and we warmed up, drank our coffees and waxed lyrical about our past, present and upcoming treatments and medication. Always great to catch up.


Why is it called the Nickey Line?

There is no clear origin of the name....however suggestions include being named after the parish of St Nicholas in Harpenden, through which it runs; Hemel's connection with Nicholas Breakspear; the knickerbockers worn by the navvies who constructed the line; or "down the nick", a slang term of engine drivers which meant "to run out of steam" and may have been applicable on the line's difficult inclines.