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At 1pm on a snowy December day, the grand total of ride participants for our Open Spaces ride reached a new low of 1.

Whilst waiting for the hordes who were clearly enroute but slowed down by the snow and ice, Paul took a picture of …

his offroad tandem, which was the only pair of wheels he had that could cope with the exciting road conditions.

A few minutes later our numbers doubled …

with the arrival of the indefatigable Nic, who had bravely fishtailed his way up from Leyton.

It was a minor miracle neither of us fell off as we slithered through the village down Church Hill, …

and into the top of the High Street. After 200 metres we stopped off at a cafe for a warming drink and a snack to make up for the 1 calorie that we had already burned off.

All too soon and it was time to head for home, pausing to snap …

a very cool snowperson in Vestry Playground.

The round trip distance of this months ride was a shade over 2km.

So remember, whatever the weather we never cancel either of our rides, but we might decide to shorten them slightly.

If you want to a monthly email reminder of our rides, plus our latest ride report, click here.

Wishing you all a wonderful festive break, and hoping to see many of you next year.

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With the temperature forecast to peak at a sweltering 7 degrees celcius, it was surprising that turnout for our ride starting …

outside the Ancient House even made it (just) into double figures.

But we bravely set off into the chilly east wind, benefiting from strong sunshine which took a bit of an edge off the temperature, and freewheeled down through Blackhorse Village, ….

and past the gorgeous autumnal colours in Coppermill Lane, before turning into …

the newly opened Walthamstow Wetlands (open space #1).

We stopped off for a whirlwind tour of …

The Engine House, which now hosts a shop, smart cafe, & amazing views over the southern half of the Wetlands.

Then using the new signalled ‘toucan’ crossing, we headed over Ferry Lane to take in the,,,

splendid scenery in the northern half.

We headed north out of the Wetlands, skirting below Banbury Reservoir (#2), over …

the canal, along the top of Tottenham Marshes (#3), and into Leaside Road.

A two way cycle track protected us from the multilane Angel Edmonton Road, …

and somehow resisting the temptation to go shopping in IKEA, we slid under the North Circular and over the railway via the imaginatively named Conduit Lane, only to find our path blocked by …

a car, which due to either to an act of god, or more likely a failure by the driver, had left the road and crashed.

We turned into Montague Road and found ourselves following a delightful cycle track running alongside a cemetery, but had to brave a handful of residential Enfield streets (Brookside Road, Brettenham Road and Park Road) which were somewhat compromised by rat running through traffic. But it was well worth it, as we’d reached our northernmost point, and and did a circuit around Pymmes Park (#4) …

marvelling at the riot of brown, gold, reds and yellow foliage.

We left through the south west gate, and crossing Silver Street picked up Nic’s ingenuous route alongside Pymmes Brook, before using the  Tanners End Lane pedestrian underpass to slip back under the North Circular and into Bull Lane.

We escaped from White Hart Lane into a peaceful but narrow path running south through the middle of Tottenham Cemetery (#5), and …

stopped briefly to admire the 12th century All Hallows Church, then sidling alongside Bruce Castle Park (#6) we picked up a short section of cycle track which led us into Risley Avenue.

Another of Nic’s ingenious routes had us winding through Tower Gardens Estate (#7) and …

into Lordship Recreation Ground (#8), where we stopped at the Lordship Hub Coop for snacks and to warm up. The park has seen considerable investment in recent years

… including restoration of the Model Traffic Area, in which young and old had fun cycling around on the car free mini road network.

The sun was low, so off we set again, heading south through Downhills Park (#9), along Station Crescent, Gorleston Road, and Roslyn Road, through Brunswick Road Open Space (#10), Birstall Road, followed by a brilliantly marshalled dog leg over the busy Seven Sisters Road into Stonebridge Road. Using the CS1 toucan we crossed the A10 into Crowland Road, and 5 minutes later …

we were chaining our bikes outside what is probably our favourite cafe, situated in Markfield Park (#11).

A cosy 45 minutes followed as we munched our way through goodies and chatted, then …

with daylight fading we pedalled off back home via Coppermill Lane.

Seventeen spirited cyclists assembled on October’s second Sunday for a soujourn to a site only sightly short of Shoreditch.

We set off on our usual western route across Walthamstow, making good use of the many ‘modal filters’ to cruise through the motor traffic-lite areas of Walthamstow & Blackhorse Villages stopping briefly at …

the splendid looking filter & pocket park at the top of Northcote Road.

We crossed Blackhorse Road via the signalled cycle crossing into Glenthorne Road, and onto Coppermill Lane, freewheeling downhill alongside the soon to be opened Wetlands (it is now).

Our plan to nip through the car park and onto Sustrans’ NCN (National Cycle Route) 1 was thwarted due to a bridge replacement by Network Rail, forcing a detour down  to Springfield Marina, where we nipped alongside the canal, …

rejoining NCN1 just before it passed under Lea Bridge Road.

We followed a wonderfully leafy corridor alongside the Waterworks Nature Reserve, and enjoyed autumnal woodland on the track running between Hackney Marsh and the River Lea, before climbing up to the bridges which cross over the motor traffic-logged Ruckholt Road and A12.

As we stopped for a breather and to admire a dramatic cloudscape, our posse grew by another 3 riders – a family who had spotted some friends in our group.

A gentle descent took us past the Velodrome, and through the Olympic Park; we hung a right just before the stadium, and traveled through Hackney Wick via Monier Road & Wick Lane …

into Victoria Park. We took a short break for a chat and look around the Old English Garden, then set off along the northern side of the park, crossing past the Chinese Pagoda and exiting into Sewardstone Road.

Nic’s encyclopedic knowledge of the area led us along a hidden path shortcutting through to Lark Row, and nipping over the A7 into Andrews Road, after 100 metres on Whiston Road we turned into  the top of …

Haggerston Park. Two minutes later we reached …

Hackney City Farm, which as well as a variety of animals hosts …

a popular (and pretty busy on a Sunday afternoon) cafe offering some very tasty food.

Suitably fuelled up on calories, we headed back home along Goldsmiths Row, up Broadway Market, and through …

London Fields.

We tried out the innovative new crossing from London Lane over Mare Street (which with the low volumes of cars worked flawlessly for our 20 riders), and segued along Lyme Grove, Chatham Place,  up alongside St John at Hackney Church, over

the tiger crossing of Lower Clapton Road, into Clapton Passage, down Powerscroft Road and through Millfelds Recreation Ground to the Toucan crossing of Lea Bridge Road.

After a few hundred metres of the showcase Lea Bridge Road cycle track, we crossed the rail bridge and turned left into Argall Way, …

waiting at the new Lea Bridge rail station for the back of the ride to catch up.

We enjoyed a further half mile of protected cycle tracks & car free riding, before taking another of Nic’s amazing routes, this time turning left from South Access Road info Low Hall Sports Ground. We sidled alongside a little known nature reserve on the edge of St James Park, emerging via North Access Road into Essex Road. A few more twists and turns took us along Coppermill Lane,  …

and back up Walthamstow High St and our starting point in Walthamstow Village.

A select band of a dozen riders assembled after lunch on a grey September Sunday…

outside the Ancient House in Walthamstow Village. We headed north over Church Hill, dropped down The Drive, slipped into Shernhall Street, fishtailed over Forest Rd and slalomed through the backstreets from Spruce Hills Road, over Fulbourne Road and into Forest View Road.

From there we made use of the recently upgraded cycle route up to and alongside Wadham Road, and via a new “tiger” crossing (it’s a zebra but caters for cycles as well as pedestrians)  over into …

the whimsically named Sky Peals Road. A bit of an uphill slope ensued, involving a degree of puffing coupled with a few red faces, as we edged out way alongside Epping Forest, then a merciful descent (via Bennington Road, Oak Hill Crescent, and Alders Avenue) before crossing the River Ching…. which being at the bottom of a valley meant we faced another hill climb.

A footpath from Gordon Road took us into St Leonards Avenue, and we wiggled through the backstreets taking alternate right & lefts, picked up the official quiet route to Chingford in Abbots Crescent, and emerged into Waterhall Avenue.

From there we used …

a brand new pair of tiger crossings providing a safe route across the roundabout (which used to be one of the most scary sections of this route), …

and hopped onto the new cycle track running up the east side of Friday Hill.

Bluehouse Road gave us a further taste of the leafy fringes of Epping Forest, and we had the benefit of yet another new tiger at the end of Normanton Park, offering safe passage over the busy Whitehall Road. Kimberley Road and Victoria Road took us into Warren Pond Road which offered another hill climbing opportunity, this time on an offroad track leading into the forest. Towards the top we stopped …

at Warren Pond for a breather, and admired the ancient oak tree which sported a massive void underneath – so large that several youngsters could climb in and hang out underneath the roots. From there it was 2 minutes to Rangers Road, and …

a brief stop at Butlers Retreat, where we could fill our bottles at the drinking fountain. We headed west alongside Chingford Plain, crossing Bury Road and picking up the offroad track that runs between the golf course & Forest View.

Previous rides along this path (after the glut of hills around Highams Park) had elicited a degree of good humoured protest with a few gently knackered participants getting off and walking for the last 100 metres of the route as it ascended the lower reaches of Pole Hill. So we tried a diversionary route along Eglington Road & Connaught Avenue. It saved us all of 5 metres of ascent, but was at least on a properly surfaced road which must have helped marginally as everyone managed to pedal to the top.

Mercifully, the next couple of miles were downhill … we snuck onto a footpath through woodland to Woodberry Way, crossing over into an easily overlooked and extraordinarily narrow alleyway, which emerged next to the Kings Head pub. A tightly marshalled dog-leg got us over the lights and into the top of the Ridgeway, before we slid into …

the little known path known as Organ Lane, running gently downhill for around a kilometre between back gardens. This is one of our borough’s hidden gems, …

with overhanging vegetation, little used by pedestrians, and apart from a single road crossings (Endlebury Road), a free-wheeling, car-free, taste of paradise.

We emerged into Colvin Gardens, and coasted down Harold Road, before sailing across ….

the recently completed tiger on New Road, and picking up the nicely resurfaced cycle track running into Larkswood Playing Fields.

From Larkswood Road, we swiftly traversed Chingford Mount Road into Frankland Road, and used Soper Close to cut through Chase Lane Park, and over a traffic jammed Hall Lane.

Weaving our way along Lower Hall Lane, we crossed 3 branches of the River Lea, snuck alongside the canal under the North Circular, and then to avoid a short but nerve-wrackingly narrow section of towpath, took the cycle track to the busy Argon Road roundabout… fortunately a kindly motorist let us in, and another let us cut over into Hawley Road.

We left Towpath Road and pedaled through a peaceful mile of the verdant Tottenham Marshes alongside Pymmes Brook; fifteen minutes later we had crossed Ferry Lane, looped the length of Jarrow Road, cruised into Yardley Crescent, and after 50 metres of towpath, we coasted into Markfield Park and …

a well deserved (and at nearly 4pm, considerably later than usual) refuelling stop at Sonia and Abed’s homely Pistaccios Cafe. All too soon, with the light starting to fade, …

it was time to set off home, down the towpath to the Horseshoe Bridge, up Coppermill Lane, and the High Street back to Walthamstow Village.

There weren’t many people left in Walthamstow by the middle of August, but 20 of them (plus a further  3 who hailed from Rotherhythe) made it to what turned out to be one of our longest ever rides.

After swapping in a new inner tube to fix the puncture on George’s bike, we headed off out of Walthamstow Village, over Church Hill, ….

down Cairo Road, and across Hoe Street.

The swathe of new modal filters in Blackhorse Village means there are now several low traffic routes heading westwards through Walthamstow.

We took my favourite line, down Hatherley Rd, Erskine, Colleridge, Walpole, The Links, Pretoria, Maude, and Glenthorne, emerging into Coppermill Lane, where from the reservoir we freewheeled into the Lea Valley and onto …

the Sustrans National Cycle Network route 1 (which runs from Dover to John O’Groats).

Past Walthamstow & Leyton Marshes, under Lea Bridge Road, alongside the Waterworks Nature Reserve (the wildlife there looks likely to suffer due to plans for 2 large new schools to be built alongside), and …

into Hackney Marsh.

After 5 minutes of pedaling we took the bridge over the canal, had a brief rest in Daubney Park, before heading off down Kingsmead Way, along Lee Conservancy Road, and following a sneaky short cut through the Meadow Close housing estate (to avoid the rather hostile Eastway).

Berkshire Road and Wallis Road led us over the…

ramped gateway crossing of the A12, and into …

Victoria Park, where we took a short rest break outside the cafe.

It was nearly 3pm and we’d only covered a third of our route, so we quickly pressed on, exiting the park via brief gap on a car mobbed roundabout and into Grove Road, and immediately hanging a right  into Wennington Green.

This heralded a 1 mile long slalom along the verdant and car-free route south down …

Mile End Park, and after 2 minutes of pedaling down Hamlets Way, we reached …

Tower Hamlets Cemetery. The cool shade of the leafy semi-wilderness was welcome after the bright sunshine; leaning tombstones and many elaborate memorials to the very long departed, lent a distinctly gothic feel as we rode around the paths.

There were sections of the ride which I hadn’t cycled before, but Google streetview came to the rescue. The day before I’d taken a virtual tour through Tower Hamlets, and was able to ensure we’d not end up stranded in the middle of a busy dual carriageway. In fact you can see our route here: http://www.bikely.com/routes/edit/tower-hamlets-cemetery-loop

We exited from the south east side of the cemetery into Fairfoot Road, then headed east through residential streets: Rounton Road, Campbell Road, Trevithic Way, Bruce Road, and Franklin Street.

A short section of shared path …

alongside the busy A12 , then into the subway crossing, we emerged into Three Mill Lane, and …

stopped briefly to admire the Three Mills. But the sound of rumbling stomachs encouraged us to press on to our cafe stop, via Three Mills Wall River, Stratford High Street, Blaker Road, followed by an immediate left down steps alongside the canal, and right into Marshgate Lane.

2 minutes later and we zig-zagged our way up onto the Greenway …

for a hugely well-deserved break in the Viewtube cafe’s garden.

The food there was scrumptious, and after an hour we felt restored enough for the return leg through the …

Olympic Park, past the Aquatics Centre, the Velodrome, over the A12 and …

along the riverbank on the east side of Hackney Marsh.

We rode back along Sustrans route 1, under Lea Bridge Road, looping up to join its state-of-the-art cycle track, before turning off at Hitcham Road; wiggling though quiet backstreets and onto the new cycle track running along Markhouse Road. From there we took a short cut along Brunner Road,  under the railway to Courtney Mews, and up the High Street back to Walthamstow Village.

Do you ever have the feeling as Sunday lunchtime approaches that the weekend is quickly disappearing down the plughole?  Its been really busy with few opportunities to chill, so you’re feeling just a tad unfulfilled as Monday starts to loom?  I did before we set off, but what a tonic was in store.

We looped down Walthamstow Village’s Vestry Road & back up Orford Road, before the 16 of us headed off across Wood Street, up Fyfield Road & Forest Road before gyrating our way around the switchback bypass of the Waterworks roundabout & North Circular.

Grove Road offered a peaceful backstreet link before we careered onto a glorious 1 km downhill from …

Churchfields to Maybank Road, interrupted only by the…

ramped bridge crossing of the Circle Line.

A kindly motorist stopped on the busy Chigwell Road to let us over into the Roding Valley Park, and after 10 minutes of gentle off road woodland riding …

 

we hit our first refreshment stop, the friendly Anglers Cafe at Redbridge Lakes.

The sun was out as we sipped our drinks and chatted, or wandered around the fishing lakes admiring the anglers with their impressively long rods.

Back on the road, we headed across to Claybury Park, which offered a peaceful & leafy route eastwards to Tomswood Hill, and after Addison Road we took a cheeky traffic dodging dog-leg via …

Redbridge Sports Centre, before ‘taking the lane’ for a short stretch of Forest Road past Fairlop station, and into Fairlop Waters’ huge open space.

We cruised anticlockwise round the sizeable lake, stopping for …

some light mountaineering practice,  …

enjoyment of the peaceful green lung, and …

oohing at the tiny ducklings bobbing their way after mum at the Little Haven Lookout (on the small nature reserve lake on the south side of the park).

Bridget’s fiendishly clever and largely quiet residential street routing took us out of Fairlop Waters (via Station Road, Baron Gardens, High Street, Mossford Green, through Barkingside Park, then Greenleafe Drive, Sunnymede Drive, Rosedean Gardens, Longwood Gardens) and …

into Clayhall Park, where we had a second considerably longer cafe stop, and watched a cricket match.

Fed and watered, we exited into Lord Avenue, and used the toucan cycle crossing to get over the busy Woodford Avenue dual carriageway into Lodge Hill, followed by Woodford Bridge Road and Roding Lane south, leaving it as curved left to sneak back into the lush Roding Valley and …

under the North Circular for a few blissful traffic-free minutes, before emerging into Elmcroft Avenue.

From there, a further 25 minutes of pedaling (Cranbourne Avenue, Falcon Way, Eagle Lane, Snaresbrook Road, Forest Rise, Morgan Avenue and Buck Path) got us back to our start point in Walthamstow Village.  And some of us were unable to resist the lure of a pint at the Wildcard Brewery.

What a fun, sociable and relaxing antidote to a busy weekend!

Just 7 riders made it at our advertised 1pm start time of 1pm, but numbers rapidly swelled until 15 minutes later we had a total of …

44 participants for our Art Trail special ride.

For the benefit of people who aren’t local, the E17 Art Trail is a biennial event running over 2 weeks with dozens of art exhibitions showcasing the work of professional and amateur local Walthamstow artists; we’re told that 7,000 people were involved in this year’s event.

We’d only been pedalling for 2 minutes when we cruised through the middle of our first venue, where …

at least half of the houses in Wingfield & Randolf Roads were hosting artistic interpretations of the  fibonacci series.

Then having covered less than half a mile we just had to stop for a photo in one of our very favourite streets …

the car-free Orford Road, in the heart of Walthamstow Village. Then in quick succession we visited ….

an exuberant display by the Howard Road knitters,  …

art in the the new Brown’s Green community garden

at the bottom of Brown’s Road, and …

a number of artists exhibiting at Winns Gallery in Lloyd Park.

One hour in and we’d got less than 2 miles under our belt,

so the pace quickened as we streamed out of Lloyd Park,

segued round the fountain in front of the Town Hall,

and shimmied eastwards via Spruce Hills Rd, Victoria Rd, Woodstock Rd & Fyfield Rd to a clutch of artists halfway up …

Upper Walthamstow Road: Sharon Drew, Josh Berry & Mark Sowden.

A short alpine hill climb later and we were at our penultimate venue, St Peter-in-the-Forest, which as well as featuring quite a lot art, distracted us with its refreshments which included a tempting range of scrumptious cakes.

At this point the ride split into two, a small number of hardcore art lovers who headed off to St Barnabus, and the rest of us who needed to work off the calories just consumed.

From St Peter’s Avenue, we headed along Oakhurst Gardens, and then offroad into the forest, across Snaresbrook Road, and …

behind Hollow Ponds to the fun roller coaster style track under the Green Man roundabout. After a mile of quiet streets (via Felstead Rd & Warren Rd) we freewheeled down a beautifully cool wooded track and reached …

the kiosk in Wanstead Park, which dispenses a range of goodies including what is considered by some to be the best lemon drizzle cake in east London (and possibly the entire universe).

A sun-drenched interlude followed, after which we headed west along a mile of wooded trails before emerging at the Green Man, took a return leg …

through the southernmost reaches of Epping Forest, and into Walthamstow Village.

Thanks to Bridget for picking out such a varied range of talented artists for us to visit.