Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Exploring by bike

I've been exploring East London again - but this time by bike.  G has taken a few days off work for his birthday, and when he was making plans I suggested that perhaps we could use one of those days to go on a long bike ride together, while the children were at school. 
As soon as the words left my mouth, I realised what a daft suggestion this was.  He's training for an ironman race for goodness sake - the cycle leg alone of the ironman is 112 miles, and there's swimming and running too.  My idea of a long bike ride is VERY different, and involves frequent stops by picturesque wooden benches to take photos and eat kitkats.  However, G assured me that he would behave like a complete gentleman and recalibrate his concept of 'a long way' to something manageable by me.

We decided to explore a section of the Lea Valley Park - from the Olympic Park in Hackney, northwards to Picketts Lock in Edmonton.  Lea Valley Park is something I'm aware of, and I sometimes look at it on a map, but in fifteen years of living in this part of East London I have never been for an explore.  That's shameful because it passes within a mile or so of our house.

Some of our cycle route went along the Lea Valley Walk, which is open to both cyclists and pedestrians

Excellent graffiti on the flood relief channel along the edge of Hackney Marshes

More beautiful graffiti on Hackney Marshes- this time a kingfisher

Walthamstow Marshes - green and full of wildlife and just a couple of miles from my house - who knew?

The first section of our ride took us across Hackney Marshes and then Walthamstow Marshes.  Wide open sections of grassy marshland filled with bird hides, waterways, willow trees and some seriously muddy puddles.  I'm planning on coming back to this section to explore more by foot over the next couple of months.  There is a nature reserve and there are some really interesting-looking marked walking trails.

Sign in the nature reserves at Walthamstow Marshes
After the marshes, our route took us along the wide towpath next to the River Lea.  We passed a marina, some really beautiful appartments and many photogenic barges and narrowboats, some with woodsmoke curling out of their stumpy little chimneys, like the ones Gill and I saw down Regent's Canal.

Narrowboats moored near Springfield Marina

Wait for me!  Graham, in the far distance, at the other end of a bridge by Springfield Marina

A barge chasing some swans, in Tottenham

A barge with fancy velux roof windows near Stonebridge Lock 

Barges along the River Lea at Tottenham

Pretty riverside appartments at Tottenham

We stopped for coffee and a nice sit-down at the amazing Lee Valley Athletics Centre at Picketts Lock in Edmonton.  This facility has only been here for four years but is now used by the UK Athletics Squad for indoor and outdoor training every weekday morning, and they were there when we arrived all hot and sweaty and in need of a cup of coffee today.  I felt very starstruck as we watched the athletes and coaches all training hard - without exception, they all have verrrry long, bendy and springy legs!  We saw the sprinters, hurdlers, long jumpers and triple jumpers in action.  We weren't allowed to take photos, but I did sneak in this picture of a Team GB backpack on a racing wheelchair - the disabled UK athletes train there too.

After we'd admired the athletes and their prowess we got back on our bikes and headed for home, feeling very creaky and middle-aged indeed.  Our round trip was 18 miles in total, and G lived up to his promise of gentlemanly behaviour and didn't cycle too fast for me, although I'm sure he must have wanted to at times.

Exciting information boards in Haringey

Come on, Nancy! Keep pedalling!

Obviously, as G is now 40 and I am still several a few years off that landmark, there is no need for me to admit to him how incredibly tired and wobbly my legs are this evening....


You may have noticed that there are two spellings of the River Lea or Lee and its valley.  Both seem to be used interchangeably by all the various councils and community groups that operate along it.  We sometimes even saw both versions on one sign.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Even though I often do not have the time to reply to everybody, I really appreciate all your comments so much - thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts on what I've written.