13 riders at London Bridge despite the dire weather forecast. Dry, mild but very windy – 40 mph with gusts predicted! Wind direction SSW, so a tail wind going, but needed to allow for strong headwind on the return. If necessary knew we could return by train.
Off across London Bridge and through the City to Shoreditch. Traffic very light – combination of bad weather forecast and half-term holiday? Picked up Q13 and cycled towards London Fields. Columbia Rd quiet – it would be very different on a Sunday morning with the flower market in action. Across the canal at Broadway Market. This was in full swing so detoured around Ada Rd. Along the east side path in London Fields failed to activate the happy face speed sign yet again. Picked up Q2 at London Lane and followed well-signed route including the Churchwell Path (nicely surfaced) past the imposing St John Hackney Church, then across Millfield Park to Lea Bridge.
Rode 2 miles along the (mostly) new cycle path along Lea Bridge Road. This was the first work we passed that was part of the “Mini-Holland” programme of walking and cycling infrastructure in Waltham Forest. Importantly all the major junctions had crossing phases for cyclists (in parallel with pedestrians). Turned north towards Walthamstow Village at Knotts Green and paused at Orford St for a time check. We were in good time, so decided to add a loop to see a bit more of the area. This addition had been proposed by Andrew, so he took the lead. First stop at the Ancient House. This fine Tudor house is opposite St Marys Church and churchyard. It is possible to stand here and imagine Walthamstow Village before the railways arrived. Would have been a very rural setting.
At Forest Rd stopped to view the striking Waltham Forest Town Hall. The fine Portland stone building was designed in 1932 in the Nordic Classical style (according to Wikipedia). May be a bit of an attempt here to deflect from the more obvious parallels. Reminded me very much of civic buildings seen on a trip to Turin. In fact did not get completed until 1941. Next stop the William Morris Gallery in WM’s childhood home. This was a very satisfactory coffee stop, especially as there was a Farmers Market going on that offered sustenance for several riders.
Refreshed we headed back into the wind. Peddled the nice recently pedestrianised bit of Orford St and paused at the pocket park created at the junction with Eden St. Next back to Lea Bridge Rd for a short stretch before taking a quiet streets route through to Leyton Jubilee Park. Fast run down Orient Way on the cycle path, then across Eastway and into the Olympic Park past the Hockey Centre and the Velodrome. More exposed on this stretch and feeling the full force of the wind. Switched route to Stratford Station where 2 riders left to get the train. The main group continued to Stratford High St where we joined Cycleway 3 to Aldgate. From Aldgate usual route down Leman St to Royal Mint St (bit of Cycleway 2) and over Tower Bridge. Ended the ride on the south side of Tower Bridge. Some riders headed home from there while others continued with Amanda leading to London Bridge.
Overall the ride back had been bracing rather than extreme. The wind was troublesome at times, but there were also sheltered sections. And the forecast heavy rain held off. This was a new route for the Healthy Rides and definitely interesting enough to be repeated. Many thanks to Jamie for back-marking.
Manny thanks to Bruce Lynn for leading the ride and for the above ride report. It was great to see that the tradition of doing rides to the William Morris Gallery that was established by Francis Sedgemore in 2012 (see http://www.sedgemore.com/2012/07/forthcoming-cycle-ride-lea-valley-to-th...) is being continued, albeit from a different starting point and under different branding.
This is the trace of the route: