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A crisp and sunny afternoon welcomed riders to our November Open Spaces excursion, including David who had cycled down in the morning from Cambridge, and his 2 grandchildren.

Heading north out of Walthamstow Village across Church Hill and into Aubrey Road, along Forest Road and down Spruce Hills Road, we snuck eastwards along some back streets via …

Macdonald Road and …

a calorie burning climb up Belle Vue Road, to the Waterworks Roundabout.

Skirting along the southern side of the North Circular through Grove Hill, and picking up a path to Maybank Avenue, we crossed under the North Circular into …

Southend Road, which perhaps rates as one of the least scenic stretches of road we have had the fortune to travel along.

Navigating Charlie Brown’s roundabout was easy due to the recently installed crossings (before this we’d had to dodge fast & heavy streams of motor traffic), we headed up the …

Roding Valley for half a mile, turning east again to reach …

Claybury Park.

Getting some of the adult bicycles through the notoriously unfriendly gates (which were intended to deter motorcycles) gave some of us an opportunity for weightlifting practice as hoisting bikes over the fence was a simpler option. But it was well worth it,

as the woodland trails are beautiful, and offered …

treescapes with a wonderful palette of autumn browns & golds.

We left the park following another bout of weightlifting, and freewheeled down Tomswood Hill, bypassing the unforgiving Fulwell Cross junction by detouring into Mosswood Lane followed by Waterloo Road, across to Waverley Gardens, and down Tanners Lane.

Court Way looked like a dead end finishing in a car park, but we perservered, and tucked behind the supermarket we found …

what is without doubt the narrowest passageway the bike club has ever successfully negotiated – we were fortunate no one had wide handlebars!

After Village Way we picked up Quietway 6, which provided a well signposted route leading us to a safe crossing point of the A12, and brought us into …

a gorgeous Valentines Park, and our long awaited cafe stop.

Refreshed we circumnavigated …

the boating lake, and after completing a loop of the park, …

picked up Quietway 6 again heading west back home.

Cutting across Wanstead Park and along Warren Road, we slipped along the southern  edge of George Green and after the Green Man Roundabout switchback and shared path alongside Hollow ponds, reached the …

brilliantly redesigned Whipps Cross interchange with its hugely improved crossings for cyclists and pedestrians. [The former roundabout had been a complete no go for bike club outings, and its replacement has removed a substantial detour plus a tricky junction requiring a robust marshaling presence.]

Our last leg took us via Raglan Road, Barrett Rd and into the village, arriving as the sun was setting at 4.30, having covered nearly 18 miles in just over 3 hours (one of which was spent in the cafe).

 

The threat of rain was no deterrent to the …

the ‘splash’ of eager two-wheeled humanoids who materialised on a grey October afternoon (do you know of an better collective term for a group of people on bikes??).

Heading north over Church Hill, down the precipitous Hurst Road and after a brief skirmish with the Forest Road cycle tracks past the town hall, we travelled via Spruce Hills Road up to edge of the North Circular, and onto a mile of …

almost continuous protected ‘stepped’ cycle track, which took us to the entrance of the …

Walthamstow Wetlands which, comprising 10 reservoirs, is London’s largest urban wetland nature reserve. Traveling south, we crossed over Forest Road into the southern half of the wetlands, and after exiting into Coppermill Lane and passing through the car park, picked up Sustrans NCN route 1.

We gently wove our way down the Lea Valley, enjoying more miles of car-free peaceful landscapes, stopping at the …

bridge over the River Lea to spot terrapins, and take in …

the serene waterscape.

Then up the hill and over the Ruckholt Road and A12 bridges into the Olympic Park, making the most of paths alongside the river to travel down past the stadium to the …

Viewtube cafe for a ..

sociable refreshment break.

Heading back northwards through the park we stopped to admire the extraordinary Carpenters Road Lock which has been recently restored, and we couldn’t pass up this …

wonderful visual opportunity!

Taking a final stop to admire the …

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olympic Park landscape, we left via Temple Mills Lane and Crownfield Road to visit …

Grandad’s Island,

a colourful Waltham Forest Borough of Culture event

in Langthorne Park. Wiggling our way through residential streets we reached Cathall Road, swinging a right onto the …

two way cycle track and beautifully restored linear park running between Grove Green Road and the A12. Turning left into a quiet neighbourhood, we passed along the award winning car-free section of Francis Road, across Leyton High Road, into Crawley Road and another low traffic neighbourhood, and onto the …

Lea Bridge Road superhighway, finishing back …

… at our starting point in Walthamstow Village just before the sun set.

A beautiful, sunny & warm afternoon was the backdrop as …

we assembled for our first autumn ride of the year.

We headed out of Walthamstow Village via Folkestone Road, Aubrey Walk, and the excitingly steep Hurst Rd (which handily established at the start of our ride that no one had faulty brakes). After the Forest Road cycle track we wiggled through the backstreets to Forest View Road, over a fume filled canyon carrying the North Circular, and into …

Beech Hall Rd for a brief stop. We then followed the signposted cycle route through Highams Park towards Chingford, diverting off Balliol Avenue along the Bramblings, and hanging a left into …

Hatch Lane, we dove under the rail line underpass, and snuck along a short section of footpath into Mead Crescent. Heading west along New Road, we turned off through …

Larkswood Playing Fields, and following the quiet cycle route southwards, struck off via Royston Avenue into …

Westward Road where we paused to admire what appeared to be one of the borough’s oldest modal filters (aka ‘road closure’), and judging by the amount of rust, possibly pre-victorian.

Not many responsible family bike club leaders would want to admit to taking a posse of parents and youngsters alongside the …

polluted, noisy and fast flowing North Circular, …

but that’s exactly what we did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And having crossed over to the other side, a combination of an overgrown nettle & bramble strewn path followed by a navigational hiccup meant that instead of nipping into a peaceful Folly Lane, we continued along on the south side all the way to the Crooked Billet Roundabout.

However the Billet Road cycle track offered lovely route back to Folly Lane, with the added bonus of a stop at the beautifully refurbished …

Cheney Row Park. Finally joining the Folly Lane path, we skirted Banbury Reservoir, turned into the …

Lea Valley Park, did all of 100 metres north along the canal before …

crossing the bridge into Tottenham Marshes.

Turning south, we enjoyed …

a full mile of uninterrupted grasslands and trees, then crossing Ferry Lane into Jarrow Road, we picked up a path running through the middle of the housing development and into Yarmouth Crescent. Traveling to its southernmost end, a gate led us onto the canal towpath, and 2 minutes later we were dismounting at Pistaccio’s Cafe in Markfield Park.

After a relaxing hour, and volunteer led tours above and below the womderfully restored Markfield Beam Engine, the …

sun was heading towards the horizon, so it was time for us to …

head off out of the park, and back home via Springfield Park and the …

Coppermill Lane cattle creep.

Participants enthusiastically leaped at the suggestion to ride the entire length of the Greenway, which due to closures of various sections was the first time it had been possible since the 2012 Olympics.

And we were delighted to welcome back …

Nick, a long standing ride regular & marshal who we hadn’t seen for many months. He was sporting a brand new and very cool e-bike which he had collected from the bike shop just 2 days previously.

Off we set through Walthamstow Village into Grove Road, onto the newly completed Lea Bridge Road superhighway cycle track, and turned right to the shared use path alongside Hollow Ponds. Swooping under the Green Man roundabout, we sequed next to the A12, into Selsdon Road, and alongside the southern edge of …

George Green. A few minutes later we were bowling down the gently sloping Warren Road, and onto a …

verdant leafy corridor taking us into the heart of …

Wanstead Park. We rode past the Heronry Pond (which did indeed have a fishing Heron), and cut through Sunderland Way into Empress Avenue past the riding stables, before turning right …

and heading south down the Roding Valley.

Unfortunately none of us had thought to bring a machete, and whilst not seriously overgrown, the path presented a number of opportunities to engage with some slightly less welcome aspects of nature. So what was otherwise a blissfully quiet offroad freewheel through woodland, was punctuated with occasional exclamations of surprise as someone was ambushed by a particularly vigorous bramble or cunningly lurking nettle. Once the path widened …

we regrouped to ensure there were no serious injuries, and passing under the Crossrail line, we used the toucan 25 metres to the west to cross the busy Romford Road. Sheringham Avenue & Dersingham Avenue offered quieter road conditions, which we took to its southernmost end. Turning left and passing under another rail bridge, Leigh Road & Burgess Road led to Barking Road, where we crossed via a toucan crossing point just east. Doing a ‘u-ey’ we headed west to Park Avenue, and into …

Nelson St where we stopped to rehydrate. A series of back street wiggles via Wellington Road, Tyrone Road, St Albans Avenue, Charlemont Road and Norman Road brought us to the A13 interchange. We crossed south east over to the Greenway, passing the Becton Alps and stopped for …

 

a photo shoot at the eastern entry to the Greenway.

What followed was a beautifully flat 35 minute ride as we travelled  west along the elevated Greenway, admiring views to north and south, and …

stopping to take in the …

wonderfully gothic Abbey Mills Pumping Station.

A few minutes later saw us settling down at the recently reopened Viewtube Cafe, enjoying well earned refreshments in the garden.

Setting off home past West Ham’s stadium, and eschewing our usual route past the Velodrome, we traveled along the western bank of the River Lea following its route as it …

exited the Olympic Park and continued alongside Hackney Marshes,

and up …

Sustrans route 1 to Coppermill Lane.

Arriving back in Walthamstow Village we discovered that at 21.5 miles we had set a new record for the longest Family Bike Club ride, and accordingly repaired to the …

Wildcard Bewery to mark the occasion.

The option of our longest ride to date entailing a clockwise tour of 9 east London open spaces (and even more lakes) was enthusiastically welcomed by the group which met …

outside the historic St Mary’s Church & Ancient House.

Heading east over Wood St into Upper Walthamstow Road and crossing into Forest Rd via Hylands Road, we slipped under the Waterworks Roundabout, past a sliver of …

Epping Forest, and into Bressey Grove. From George Lane we dismounted to walk through the subway at South Woodford tube station, and gyrated gently through the back streets to what used to be the notoriously scarey …

Charlie Brown’s roundabout which we used to make a big detour to avoid.

However a swathe of recently installed toucan crossings (thanks TfL) at each arm meant that we negotiated the M11/North Circular with ease, and were soon pedaling up the  …

lovely Roding Valley, before hanging a right along a newly upgraded track to the …

Redbridge Lakes. We took a short rest break, and wondered at the massive carp gliding around the small pool next to the cafe.

From Redbridge Lane North we turned into …

Claybury Park, and after negotiating the anti motorcycle gates (which are also pretty challenging for bikes) we enjoyed a gorgeous ride through woodland, leaving the park into Acle Close. Gently gliding down Tomswood Hill and into Addison Rd, we avoided the hostile Fulwell Cross roundabout via a cut through  …

the Redbridge Sports Centre playing fields.

Some robust marshaling got us along a busy 200 metre stretch of Forest Rd, and then we relaxed into a long offroad stretch around …

Fairlop Waters (previously an RAF airfield and spitfire base), pausing for the more adventurous of our posse to explore …

what is apparently the UK’s largest boulder park.

After a further short break to check out …

the wildlife at the lake to the south, we left via Station Road, and stumbled across the newly completed Quietway 6 (click this link to download the Q6 route) close to Barkingside station.

This meandered through fairly quiet residential backstreets to the …

crossing of the racetrack-like Eastern Avenue, and a few hundred metres later in to …

Valentines Park for our long-awaited and well deserved cafe stop.

Suitably refreshed, we took off past …

the 300 year old Valentines Mansion, and …

embarked on a circuit of the park and its lakes, exiting westwards into Northbrook Road, then picking up Belgrave Road (the Q6 route out of the park is recommended for less confident cyclists).

Rejoining Q6 we crossed over the North Circular and the Roding Valley, and picked up Empress Road which led us to …

Wanstead Park, which we skirted alongside until the Northumberland Road/Park Road.

Hhere we picked up a little known track running behind the houses …

through woodland to a crossing of Blake Hall Road.

Belgrave Road led us to a path crossing Wanstead Flats to Bushwood, and after traveling under the …

Green Man roundabout, we sequed along the southern side of Hollow Ponds, over to the brand new Lea Bridge Road superhighway into Foresters Drive, and back into Walthamstow Village via Buck Walk & Barrett Road.

Bridget’s carefully crafted Art Trail route attracted …

our biggest turnout of the year, so we were fortunate to have a strong team of marshals to support the ride.

At our first stop in Falmer Road we first marvelled at …

Bridget’s Halloween themed top, overcame the challenge …

of parking 23 bikes in a narrow Walthamstow residential street, …

and filled the house of a surprised local family to view a treasure trove of found objects from the River Thames, spanning 2,000 years of history.

We set off again via an almost precipitously steep decent down to Forest Road, sneaking behind the Town Hall for a short offroad cut across …

Chestnuts Field to …

… Spruce Hills Road to see Tim Smith’s stonework (he is one of the last London-trained stonemasons).

We u-turned back across the field via …

Chandos Avenue & Dudley Road to “Art & Revolution” at Winns Gallery in Lloyd Park, which featured a thought provoking exploration of the ‘explosive’ year 1919 and some fascinating political artistry focusing on on current events.

Afterwards we set off along the Forest Road cycle track, and veered off through the low traffic backstreets of Blackhorse Village to two adjacent installations …

‘The Clearing’ & ‘Wonder Wild’ in Low Hall Woods behind St James’ Park.

We then split into two groups, and small but dedicated team of art aficionados, and a larger group who were keen to forgo further exploration of our creative community instead covering much more mileage.

So the latter headed off down Coppermill Lane, and through the Walthamstow Wetlands, heading across Ferry Lane to the northern half where we stopped…

to scale the slope to enormous Lockwood Reservoir ….

which was completed in 1897 using a labour force of 1,250 men.

Heading northwards we left the wetlands, and after taking a path running along the eastern side of the Lea Valley, we swung west …

 

under Banbury Reservoir, …

over the canal, and down through…

Tottenham Marshes, back over Ferry Road into Jarrow Road, hanging a right onto a …

delightful footpath running through the Ferry Lane Estate into the lower end of Yarmouth Crescent.

Less than 5 minutes later we were ordering food & drinks at the popular Pistaccio’s cafe in Markfield Park.

Suitably caloried up, we set off …

leaving the park via Grovelands Road, and snaking our way through the back streets, crossed the canal via …

the challengingly steep ramp up Horseshoe Bridge (constructed to allow barge horses to cross the from one side of the river to the other). And home via Coppermill Lane to Walthamstow Village.


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With most of this year’s rides having featured grey windswept skies, low temperatures and smaller than usual turnouts, we were finally greeted with warmth and sunshine which attracted over 20 riders and one …

dog.

We headed west out of Walthamstow Village via First Avenue,  through the …

spectacularly improved public space outside Walthamstow Queen’s Road station, along the…

cycle track past the linear park & wildflower meadow in Markhouse Road, over the toucan crossing into Theydon Street, and right onto the Lea Bridge Road superhighway.

Freewheeling gently downhill, we soon reached Sustrans route 1 (which runs from Dover via the Lea Valley all the way to the Shetland Islands!) and turned southwards, traveling through shady woodland next to the River Lea, passing alongside …

Hackney Marshes [1], before heading into the Olympic Park [2], where some of our younger riders (as well as one considerably older one) enjoyed the challenges of scaling the

climbing wall, and some of the less adventurous ones appreciated the glorious display of …

poppies and other wildflowers.

Gliding past the underbelly of West Ham United’s stadium, we climbed up to …

the Greenway (built on top of the enticingly named “Northern Outfall Sewer” which runs from Hackney Wick to Beckton), and after a short stretch of Wick Road, emerged into Victoria Park [3].

There we split into two groups, one which hung out in and around

the Hub Cafe, whilst the other embarked on a 20 minute circular tour of the park.

Rejoining & rejoicing, we all set off northwards, successfully wiggling our way through some quiet Homerton streets. A similar attempt by Paul last year via Well Street Common had got us hopelessly lost, and we’d relied on our excellent marshals to get us through some spectacularly gridlocked traffic.

This time we took a much simpler route – Brookfeld Road, Kenworthy Road & Mabley Street, which fed into a short cycle path which led us onto …

Mabley Green [4], then over Homerton High St into Adley Street, and across the west side of …

Daubney Fields [5], along Mandeville Road, through Millfields Park [6], and onto the canal towpath under Lea Bridge Road.

After a few loops of the offroad roundabout (its just north of the toucan crossing) which proved a great way to keep moving whilst waiting for the tail end of the ride to catch up, we continued up the towpath all the way up to …

Springfield Park [7], and a few minutes later …

Markfield Park [8], where we took a well deserved break at the popular …

Pistaccio’s Cafe.

With quite a few feeling that they wanted a final challenge, we again split into 2 groups, one taking the low road alongside the canal, and the other relishing a proper alpine style (well almost) hill climb up to the …

pond in Springfield Park with its magnificent views over east London, followed by rollercoaster style rapid descent down to Horse Shoe Bridge, where we rejoined the others at the bottom of …

Coppermill Lane next to Walthamstow Marsh [9], for our last two and a half miles back to Walthamstow Village.

 


What next?

Tempted to join us? Our rides are free, friendly & fun, and open to everyone.

Click below for details about our