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Twenty two of us assembled outside Walthamstow’s Ancient House as the morning’s grey skies dissolved into bright sunshine. Our 4 marshalls turned their backs to the camera  …

 

 

 

 

 

 

to show off our new Walthamstow Family Bike Club tabards and flags, funded by the council’s Hoe Street Community Ward Forum. We headed off using our favourite eastbound route out of Walthamstow Village, via Raglan Road, Roland Road, and along Buck Walk.

After St Peters Avenue & Oakland Gardens we took to woodland trails, meandering through the lower reaches of Epping Forest, over Snaresbook Road, alongside Hollow Ponds, before diving under the Green Man roundabout. Next was the quiet route on Felstead Rd, skimming the south of George Green, and the conclusion of Warren Road another tree canopied route which brought us to …

the kiosk & lakes in Wanstead Park.

Freewheeling past the horse stables in Empress Avenue (and deeply inhaling its gorgeous bouquet), we crossed the Roding Valley, and following a new route via Wanstead & Northbrook Roads, we entered Valentines Park, and pedalled alongside its boating lake. After a brief hydration break (& swift ice cream injection for a couple of our younger riders), we said goodbye to …

Sergiu and his impressive cycling family of 8, and cycled northwards up Beehive Lane.

We bagged another green space (Clayhall Park), shoogled through the backstreets and over Clayhall Avenue, then from Heathcote Avenue took an off-road trail through Hurstleigh Gardens. Minutes later after puffing our way up Basildon Ave, we found ourselves at Claybury Park – its motor-cycle deterring gates meant we had to lift all our bikes over the fence.

But we were rewarded with a relaxing woodland ride, and considerably more cycle-friendly exit into Roding Lane North. Two minutes later we were rolling through the gates of …

the family  friendly Redbridge Lakes. Although we’d just arrived too late for hot food (just after 3.30), we settled down in the afternoon sunshine to replenish lost calories at the Anglers’ Cafe.

Back into our saddles, we wound our way along …

a leafy trail in the Roding Valley, and a brief detour along Lechmere Avenue led us to a shared pedestrian/cycle path alongside the busy Woodford Avenue.

200 metres later and we hung a left and plunged down a steep incline to a track running to the east  of …

River Roding. After a bumpy 1 km (note the track is better on the west side), we headed homeward onto Elmcroft Avenue, and after Cranbourne Avenue we swooped along Falcon Way, children whooping & bells jingling as plunged into the Central Line underpass, and out into Eagle Lane.

Now nearly home, we hit the Snaresbrook Road shared use path, and after the Buck Walk tiger crossing of Wood Street, stopped to admire …

the Mini Holland funded pocket park in Greville Road.

After a hot 15 miles, some of us were rather thirsty, and curiously our return route took us right past the Wildcard Brewery.

An unseasonably hot & sunny day greeted …

the 27 riders who showed up for April’s open spaces ride. The many preceeding bone-dry weeks was an open invitation to make as much use as we could of off-road tracks which would be free of mud.

So following a loop through Walthamstow Village …

via East Avenue, we headed off over Shernhall Street and after making excellent use of the …

Wood Street tiger crossing and Bush Walk, we passed Forest School and hit our first forest trail… this signalled the start of almost 10 miles of virtually continuous off road pedaling. We paused for a breather in Epping Forest …

prior to a rollercoaster style ride which took us under the roundabout at Waterworks Corner, over the North Circular and back under the roundabout. Back in Epping Forest we took a trail running just west of the Woodford New Road, and emerged briefly to cross over Chingford Lane, scoot along Savill Row to the top of Sunset Avenue, which led us to a glorious trail running downhill alongside the golf course,.

Heading due north in the forest we crossed Whitehall Road, and then Ranger’s Road, where we climbed uphill …

on a sun dappled trail bypassing Connaught Water, …

pausing only briefly to hydrate ourselves, finally reaching …

the Bikers’ Hut for a well deserved rest and refreshment break.

We assembled for our return leg, much of which was via …

gentle down hill …

winding paths …

offering idyllic shady woodland opportunities for water stops.

Upon reaching Chingford Plain we turned westwards along the south side of the golf course, climbing part of the way up Pole Hill before heading south down a handlebar grabbingly narrow alleyway off Woodberry Way, emerging next to the Kings Head pub.

After a tightly marshalled 50 metres along the busy Kings Head Hill, and a short stretch of the Ridgeway, we dived off down the little-known car-free Organ Lane, which as it descends, threads its way behind rows of houses as far as Colvin Gardens.

Following the council’s ‘quiet route’ via Larkswood Playing Fields, and bike pass under the Crooked Billet roundabout, we surfaced into Kitchener Rd, steamed down Sturge Avenue, past the aftermath of a scary looking car crash at the Forest Rd/Shernhall St junction, and up The Drive back to Walthamstow Village… a round trip of almost exactly 15 miles.

It was grey as we gathered, and half a mile down the road the first few spots of rain encouraged us to stop ..

at the Mini Holland modal filter (aka “Road Closure”) in Hatherley Road to don our waterproof jackets. It worked like magic – within a couple of minutes the sun appeared and that was the last we saw of the rain.

We sequed through the quiet residential streets in Blackhorse Village, and bowled along the new cycle tracks running up Blackhorse Lane & round into Billet Road, before peeling off at Sinott Rd.

Now offroad, we headed into the Lea Valley, underneath Banbury Reservoir, over the River Lee Navigation, and into …

Tottenham Marshes for a leisurely southward meander for a mile or so.

As we approached the allotments we swung a right underneath the busy Watermead Way, along Parkview Road & Hanbury Road, into what is arguably our favourite route section outside of our home borough, the car free and exquisitely named …

“Carbuncle Passage”. Unfortunately its quietness means its become a bit of a magnet for flytipping, but a local resident has fought back robustly with a sign advising “No rubbish hire”.

Further excitement just 50 metres further along … our peace was shattered as Neville was ambushed …


by a tiger, but he put up a brave fight and to our relief overcame the ferocious beast.

Despite our shattered nerves we pushed on, crossing Tottenham High Road and A10, and via Woodside Gardens, Broadwater Road & Adams Road, arrived at Tottenham Recreation ground. The newly refurbished BMX track distracted some, whilst others explored …

the model traffic area which dates back to 1936, and after falling into disrepair, was restored a few years ago.

Turning south, we cycled through Downhills Park, round 2 sides of Chestnuts Park, …

down Hermitage Road, along a mercifully short section of very busy Green Lanes Finsbury Park, before turning off just after the New River into the relative calm of a backstreet route through Rowley Gardens. Minutes later we arrived at …

Woodberry Wetlands, where we were able to enjoy the tranquility of the reservoir nature reserve.

After half an hour we set off homeward bound through Stamford Hill via Bethune Road, East Bank, Rostrevor Avenue & Elm Park Avenue, with our journey enlivened by the wonderful spectacle of hundreds of celebrants of the Jewish holiday Purim.

Upon reaching Markfield Park we stopped at …

Pistaccio’s Cafe for long awaited refreshments, before embarking on our last leg up Coppermill Lane and into Walthamstow Village.

Ten bicycles …

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were joined by ten hardy souls …

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who braved a bleak Walthamstow winter day for a clockwise pedal through and around our borough which encompassed a grand total of 16 parks & open spaces.

We knocked off the first 3 in little over 20 minutes: Hollow Ponds, Wanstead Flats, …

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and the music themed Acacia Road Playground, where we stopped for a spot of tuneful impro and see-sawing.

From there a quiet back street route allowed us to bypass Harrow Road and quickly traversing over Leytonstone High Road,  we sneaked along the lower edge of Langthorne Park.

As we bowled along Langthorne Road we had the unalloyed pleasure of meeting a delightful middle aged gentleman driving a BWM, who took the trouble of stopping and getting out of his car to converse with us. Unfortunately for him, his knowledge of the highway code and consummate driving skills seem likely to lead him on a one way trip into the nearby St Patrick’s RC Cemetery sooner rather than later. [It must be stressed this is a highly unusual occurrence for us – the vast majority of motorists we encounter are very considerate around our riders, and conflict is very rare.]

After the cemetery we hooked a right over the pedestrian & cycle bridge across the A12, marvelled at the latest Mini Holland modal filter being constructed between Grove Green Road & Warren Road, and after a couple of hundred metres of busy and tightly marshalled road, we were onto the protected cycle track running into Ruckholt Road.

Five minutes later we climbed into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, stopping to look at …

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a hockey game being played on an electric blue pitch, and …

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a team of youngsters getting ready for the 1 mile road circuit outside the Velodrome.

Pedalling south, we passed the West Ham stadium and the …

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Orbit Tower echoing with the sound of screams from thrill-seekers on the recenty installed slide.

We sequed up onto …

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the arrow straight Greenway, followed by a run of multiple open spaces as we worked our way north up the Lea Valley: Victoria Park, Mabley Green, Wick Woodland, Daubeney Fields, Hackney Marshes.

Then a short leg along Sustrans’ National Cycle Network Route 1 to the Middlesex Filterbeds Nature Reserve, before running along the canal past Millfields Park, Springfield Park and into one of our favourite cafes, Pictachio’s in Markfield Park.

We’d notched up close to 15 miles by this point, so felt well justified in a happy hour offsetting all the calories we’d burned off. Then back down the canal towapth, …

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over the marina bridge, and along Coppermill Lane alongside our last open space, Walthamstow Marshes, and back to our starting point in Walthamstow Village.

Which is tantalisingly close to the Wildcard Brewery, which some of the weaker willed of us were unable to resist.

A grey damp and chilly day yielded one of our most compact rides for years, allowing us to cover ground more quickly than usual,  thus delivering a high ratio of cafe lounging to riding time.

We took our usual eastern route out through Walthamstow Village’s network of quiet streets via Grove Road, but our reduced numbers meant we could nip out through the Raglan Rd ‘modal filter’ to reach the shared path running alongside Hollow Ponds.

We sped under the Green Man roundabout with its glorious switchback climbs and swoops, and sidled briefly on a cycle track alongside the A12 before heading off through Wanstead’s back streets via the southern perimeter of George Green, then down Warren Rd and through Wanstead Park.

We found a new short cut via Sunderland Way into Empress Avenue

Aldersbrook stables, Jan 2017

and stopped briefly at Aldersbrook Riding School, and admiring  and inhaling …

Aldersbrook, Jan 2017

the fragrant and steaming pile of straw and horse dung at the allotments opposite.

Then over the River Roding and into Cranbrook, arriving a few minutes later in Valentines Park, and for us an unusually early stop at 2.15 …

Valentines Park cafe, Jan 2017

at the cafe overlooking the Cran Brook.

We had a leisurely 40 minute rest, before …

Valentines Park, Jan 2017

taking off …

Valentines Park, Jan 2017

to explore the park’s perimeter.

We exited the park’s north side, into Blenheim Avenue & along Wanstead Lane, and under the  …

Redbridge Roundabout, Jan 2017

the Redbridge Roundabout, which featured the breathtakingly inspired combination of a marked cycle track followed by a sign prohibiting cycling!

We pedalled up the Roding Valley alongside the river, skirting the South Woodford, into Cranbourne Avenue, under the Central line, and into Eagle Lane, then Snaresbrook Road and through Upper Walthamstow back to our starting point.

Our last ride of the year attracted 16 eager calorie crunching participants for an anticlockwise undulating tour of Waltham Forest, plus a couple of skirmishes across the border into Enfield & Hackney.

After an eastwards vault over Shernhall Street, we started on our first hill climb of the day, crossing over Wood Street and up Buck Walk to Peterhouse, followed by a steep downhill to Fyfield Road, and another climb across Forest Road. The steep downhill  …

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via Pentire Road was swiftly followed by an equally steep climb up Sky Peals Road, a gentle glide down to head over the River Ching, and our last steep hill of the day to Castle Avenue.

We snuck through a little known modal filter into the Bramblings, and sequed under the rail line, into Mead Crescent, and along New Road …

Tottenham Marshes, Dec 2016

into Larkswood Playing Fields.

A dogleg across Chingford Mount Road, and Soper Close led us across a new green space called Chase Lane Park, and the discovery of a much easier route across the traffic clogged Hall Lane.

We escaped into Lower Hall Lane, and after a few minutes left the roar of the North Circular far behind as we pedalled up to …

Pickett's Lock, Dec 2016

Pickett’s Lock for a well deserved breather. A clutch of narrow boats was just arriving, and we found ourselves …

Pickett's Lock, Dec 2016

helping out the lock keeper by opening and closing the gates, and were rewarded with a naval salute from a departing captain.

But on our shortest ride day of the year …

Pickett's Lock, Dec 2016

with the clock hands inching towards a 3.52 sunset, daylight was in limited supply, so we nipped across to one of our favourite venues,

Lea Park Way, Dec 2016

…the “empty road”, also known as Lee Park Way, where we made full use of the wide car-free space running between Pymmes Brook & the River Lee Navigation, before darting under the North Circular, and back down the towpath. The next

Tottenham Marshes, Dec 2016

… bridge led us into the peaceful Tottenham Marshes, and twenty minutes later we crossed Ferry Lane, and after meandering along Jarrow Road, and we briefly rejoined …

River Lea, Dec 2016

… the River Lea towpath, as the

River Lee, Dec 2016

sun headed towards the horizon and the temperature plummeted.

The ever friendly Abdul welcomed us to

Pistaccios, Dec 2016

… his cosy Pistaccio’s Cafe in Markfield Park, where we did some calorie offsetting to make up for the ones we’d burned, and marvelled at a

Markfield Park, Dec 2016

… spectacular sun set. Finally we set off home along the almost arrow straight Coppermill Lane & High Street route, back to Walthamstow Village.

Sixteen riders assembled early afternoon on a beautifully crisp but sunny November lunchtime …

St Mary's start, Nov 2016

between the Ancient House and St Mary’s Church.

Following a warm up birl around Walthamstow Village via Orford Road, we headed across Church Hill and over Hoe Street, …

New Blackhorse Village filter, Nov 2016

making full use of the new Mini Holland modal filters which are now scattered across Blackhorse Village, which take out rat running traffic and deliver a far safer and more enjoyable cycling experience.

And onwards into the traffic-calmed Coppermill Lane  (with its Quietway ‘sinusoidal humps’ that have substantially reduced motor traffic speeds), before turning onto Sustrans National Cycle Route route 1 which wends its way through …

Walthamstow Marshes, Nov 2016

Walthamstow Marshes.

We freewheeled under Lea Bridge Road (there’s 2 bridges now, the new one carrying a gleaming cycle superhighway), past the back of the Waterworks Nature Reserve, through sun dappled woodland skirting Hackney Marsh alongside the winding River Lea, and over …

Olympic Park, Nov 2016

the Ruckholt Road & A12 pedestrian & cycle bridges into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Passing the magnificent Velodrome, we wound our way alongside the River Lea, past the Copper Box, through Hackney Wick and …

Hackney Wick, Nov 2016

back over the A12 into Victoria Park.

We admired the autumnal tree colours on a relaxed circuit round the park, leisurely weaving in and out of groups of joggers, families,  load of other cyclists, roller bladers & skateboarders, pigeons, dogs, …

Victoria Park, Nov 2016

and windswept drifts of golden leaves.

We took a new route out via St Marks Gate and Wick Lane, veering off …

Olympic Park, Nov 2016

… onto the car-free Greenway, arriving a few minutes later at the welcoming View Tube Cafe.

A calorie packed hour followed as we worked our way through a bewildering variety of goodies.

But with the sun heading down towards the horizon, we needed to head off home, stopping briefly to  …

Olympic Park, Nov 2016

peruse the Orbit and wonder what its like to experience the 40 second plummet down the recently added “world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide”.

Finally (do excuse me, dear reader) spinning past the stadium, we dashed across Drapers Field, legged it through Leyton, wombled alongside Wanstead Flats, and hacked past Hollow Ponds, getting back to Walthamstow Village just as the darkness fell.