Hackney loop, Lee River and canals

canal by Hackney Marsh

An 8 mile walk we did a couple of weeks ago, on a glorious Sunday morning. We headed across Hackney Downs and Clapton to Hackney Marsh, along Lee River towards the Olympics bit, then crossed to Hertford Union Canal, passing Victoria Park and back along Regent’s Canal. Canals full of boats – I don’t think I’ve seen this many boats around in the height of summer, people everywhere, glad to be out of winter coats. Lee River sparkling in the sun, magnolias out, a lovely spring morning.

canal by Hackney Wick

Hackney Lee loop magnolias 14

Victoria Park was positively heaving with people, we looked for quieter paths. Tourists claimed Regent’s Canal path, to the annoyance of cyclists and joggers and you could tell Broadway Market would have been packed. We stopped at Duke’s Brew and Que for sustenance and a pint instead before heading home.

Victoria park Hackney loop

Regent's canal by Queensbridge Road

 

So good to have this practically at our doorstep.

Thames path Kew to Victoria

First walk in ages and a fantastic day for it on Saturday. We met Beloved’s Pater familias at Kew, where we looked at fabulous orchids, then walked the Thames path to Barnes. Pater familias and M left us here while Beloved and I continued along the path to Victoria. 12 miles in total – a good length considering we haven’t walked for a very long time.

kew gardens

 

We were at Kew as the gardens opened to public in glorious sunshine on Saturday morning. Spring in the air (finally!) and snowdrops on the ground (yay!)

snowdrops

 

Also crocus carpets, I do love a carpet of flowers!

crocus carpet

 

Mindful of holding everyone up, I resisted the urge to throw myself on the ground and take lots and lots of crocus close up photos, besides the grass was wet. We were also about to go see the orchids – there’s currently an orchid festival at Kew until 9 March and I was about to take a lot more photos.

orchids

orchids1

orchid display

orchid3

 

Pater familias said that Kew relies on volunteers to help bring the annual festival about, sounds like a marvellous thing to be involved in. There is also a new hybrid orchid Kew created for this year, a speckly fuchsia and white, which you can buy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t carry one with me but wouldn’t mind going back to get it now that I’ve finally learned how to look after orchids. I’d recommend visiting Kew while the orchid displays are still on, although best to do this early in the morning, it was already getting busier as we left.

Leaving Kew Gardens, we walked along the Thames path to Barnes, this stretch of river is lovely and quiet.

tree by thames

 

Barnes itself was busier, we stopped for coffee and at the farmers market where I picked up a couple of apples for sustenance and then continued, on our own towards Hammersmith. We used to live in Hammersmith years ago and haven’t been back to the area much, the riverside in particular has been built up a lot since we moved.

birds on old barge

 

Still, nice to see that not everything has been gentrified. In particular, the stretch around Putney and going into Battersea, the Imperial Wharf on the other side with all the new and newish builds is still completely characterless. Property developers eager to attract custom cover the empty retail units with posters of cappuccino drinkers, romantic looking couples and people with laptops – see, all so multipurpose! They seem very keen on cappuccino drinkers and also on ‘zen’ gardens – every newish development had tiny green spaces that had obviously been landscaped but not in a good way. Nothing nice to look at and even the pint of ale we stopped for at a pub in Putney lacked character. This old power station on the other side was the only interesting building for miles.

old power station

 

We thought about finishing the walk at Battersea bridge and getting the bus back home but decided against this, the last few miles had been fairly depressing looks wise so we thought going past Battersea Park and towards Victoria would at least give us nicer things to look at.

v&a bridge ahead

 

Beloved later said we should have continued onto Vauxhall as Victoria was very busy, as usual with travellers of all sorts. All in all, Saturday was a walk of two halves, from the beauty of Kew Gardens, a quiet and peaceful Thames path to Hammersmith and then the visual assault and the soullessness of the built up stretch of the river. Still, the weather was pretty glorious throughout and we got some much needed exercise.

Hampton Wick and Bushy Park

Today was always going to be a stroll rather than a walk, plans were made to meet up with Beloved’s dad for lunch somewhere off the London Loop path and in the general area of his abode, we settled on Teddington. Just as well that it was a stroll of 4 and a half miles and not a proper walk, it was freezing. We got a train to Hampton Wick then walked around the edge of Hampton Court Park, spotting deer in the distance, a couple of green woodpeckers (had to do some research later to figure out what they were) and quite possibly a great spotted woodpecker too (jury is out on this one but, how exciting!). A little while later at Hampton Court, I was rather taken with the wonderfully trimmed trees.

Hampton Ct trees

The weather, at this point was cold but fine, the ground was hard, which at least meant we wouldn’t be covered in mud yet again. We crossed over to Hampton Wick and Bushy Park and it got a bit windy and freezing cold. Oh well. A lot more walkers out and about, Hampton Court Park was deserted in comparison. We walked around the ponds, lovely scenery.

Hampton wick ponds

 

As well as the usual ducks, geese, swans, coots and terns, we also spotted a ring-necked parakeet (thank you RSPB website for clearing all the birds up!) too high in a tree for a photo. We keep seeing these green parakeets on walks, we saw some last week and some a few months ago in Oxleas Wood. Seems that they have accidentally made South England their home. No birds seen on this tree but it still looked pretty cool.

hampton wick tree

 

Walking back towards Teddington, we spotted a couple of deer herds. They seemed to be pretty used to people walking about and calmly continued eating as we stopped to take photos. It’s a shame that you can see houses in the background and also that I don’t have a better lens (yet).

deer in bushy park

 

I’m glad that we braved the weather, this was a good little walk.

London Loop, West Wickham to Riddlesdown

A really lovely, if somewhat muddy walk today, 10.5 miles of London Loop from West Wickham to Riddlesdown. Once you leave West Wickham, this walk is mostly woodland, which was rather marvellous and now, back home, I feel happy. A little tired too, today’s was the longest walk we’ve done so far this year. We walked through Threehalfpenny Wood, Addington Hill, Bramley Bank, Littleheath Woods and Selsdon Wood, then along some fields and meadows (super muddy) and across Riddlesdown to the station and train back. Very peaceful, we hardly saw anyone other than a few dog walkers here and there. Birds singing and first signs of spring everywhere. Very uplifting! I mostly took photos of trees so here are a few:

Pine tree loop walk

 

tree on loop walk

 

snowdrops

 

fungus on tree loop

 

tree selsdon wood Got completely overexcited by snowdrops, so glad we didn’t miss them and that it is almost spring. The weather wasn’t sunny but definitely milder. Be lovely to come back to these woods in a couple of months, this was by far the most enjoyable walk of London Loop yet.

London Loop, Orpington to Hayes

Glorious day for walking, I had plans to continue along the London Loop where we left it last Saturday, Beloved wasn’t quite so enamoured of going back to Bexley as it wasn’t very nice the first time around. Turns out trains were a bit funny around there today anyway so we just moved onto next section of the Loop instead. Off we went to Orpington, setting off quite late and then struggling to find the right path through Darrick Wood towards Farnborough Common. Once we got to the top of the common, however, it was rather lovely:Farnborough common topLondon Loop loops around the Common and this walk was just so much nicer than last week’s. Polar opposites pretty much. Everywhere was muddy, which slowed us down quite a bit but we still enjoyed the walk immensely. It was a bit ‘Hello birds! Hello sky!’ at times, I got very excited by the clouds.

sky on farnborough commonWhat can I say, I love a bit of winter sunshine. Especially good for one’s soul after being cooped up at work all week. While walking through various bits of woodland, I kept noticing first little signs of spring too, would be good to come back here when it’s all green and lush.

farnborough common w horses A little while after I took this photo we walked past a little William Wilberforce memorial, a stone bench where he sat with Pitt (methinks this was the Younger Pitt) and said he wanted to abolish slavery. We continued up across Keston Common towards Keston, passing some pretty little lakes in the last bit of sunshine.

lake at keston commonWalking in so much mud was quite tiring, I originally planned a nearly 11 mile walk but realised that would be best left for dry paths. We stopped for a pint of ale at a pub in Keston, friendly and seemed very popular with locals. Much refreshed, we continued on to Hayes station and got a train back. We ended up doing just over 7 miles. Signing off with a photo of a cute cottage with a clock tower, somewhere on High Elms Road.

Clock tower house

London Loop part 1, Erith to Bexley

Over the past couple of years we’ve walked most of the Capital Ring and Lee Valley walks so have been thinking about starting a new long walk – the London Loop, which we did earlier today. We started in Erith and did a 8.5/9 mile stretch to Bexley. We usually start longer walks at the section nearest to home but with London Loop being quite far off from home and Erith actually being pretty easily accessible, we thought we may as well start at the beginning. A short walk from the station to Thames Path and it all looked quite promising:Thames looking in at ErithThe sky was blue, it was sunny, looked like a good day ahead. It’s pretty incredible to think that I only took photos of Hackney Marsh in the snow last Sunday and now it’s completely gone. View to the other side was not too bad either: Thames looking out at ErithAnd then it all got a bit too industrial. And stayed industrial. We had the Thames to our left and a huge industrial ‘park’ to our right. This went on for well over a mile – you basically loop around the industrial ‘park’ and what looked like a huge junkyard. We pretty much marched through this bit, passing no one. Eventually, we turned to follow River Darent through Crayford Marshes and finally, no industry. A little later on, we followed the path along River Cray and the views got better:Cray riverBut not for long, this photo was taken looking back, looking ahead you could see a busy road up ahead and soon enough we had this lovely prospect in front of us:Rubbish heap london loop p1I thought all the birds on the roof looked quite funny. This was the last photo I took today, we still had a while to walk to get to Bexley station but to be honest, we didn’t come across anything interesting enough for a photo. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh but this was probably the least interesting walk we’ve done in or around London. There was an interesting looking old house, Hall Place just outside Bexley with big gardens and grounds and this seemed to be quite popular with visitors, otherwise we saw a couple of cyclists, a couple walking ahead of us at one point and pretty much no one else. We still had a good day out, it was sunny for the most part and we got a bit of exercise but this is not a walk I’d want to return to. Perhaps it’s just the time of the year, might look nicer in the spring.

 

Glorious snow, Hackney Marsh and Wick

Good things come to those who wait, we’ve been on high alert for snow all day yesterday, nothing happening. Rewarded this morning by lots and lots of snowfall. Fortified by a good breakfast, we set off towards Lee Valley and ended up doing 5 miles around Hackney Downs, Marsh and Wick then got a train back home. So brilliant to have this bleakness not too far from where we live:

hackney marsh in snowLast time we walked on Hackney Marsh it was packed full of people playing football and daffodils were coming up. Today it was pretty empty, only a few dog walkers and families. I love how the line of trees at the other end of the marsh almost completely disappears into whiteness.

flowers in snow h marshthistle in snow h marshFurther down, Wick woodland was completely deserted, only snow covered trees, a few birds and us.

wick woodlandwick woodland tree canopy

 

A most enjoyable walk! Quite glad we were out early-ish too and had all this whiteness practically to ourselves.