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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.

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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.

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 led to 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 rocketted 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 we 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.