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

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orchid display

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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.

Walking stick

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This is quite silly but a little bit marvellous too, I’ve whittled a walking stick! Blaming Yorkshire adders for this silliness. Not that we saw any adders while walking in North Yorkshire Moors the other week but we saw a notice to ‘beware’ so I picked up a stick for defence purposes. Not that I’d really know what to do with a stick had we encountered an adder but thought I’d be safer with one than without. The stick turned out to be quite handy on that walk as I sprained my ankle later on and was very happy to have something to lean on. I exclaimed I was taking it back to London with us to some mild eyebrow raising from Beloved. Then I promptly left it in a caf while having a bite to eat. Typical, Beloved knew something like that would happen. The next day, however, on our last walk before catching the train back, I found an even better, sturdier stick and I did manage to bring it back! Now it’s de-barked, whittled and sanded and oiled a little bit (not sure if you’re meant to do all that, my Lost Crafts book only says to leave it for a year! to dry then whittle) and ready for a walk. I’m more than likely to leave it somewhere, break it or lose it but hopefully not for a while. Love its curved shape and its height – it’s really too long for a walking stick, it’s almost like a staff. Fitted on the back of the rucksack, looks likely to hit anyone in vicinity…

North Yorkshire Moors, Sleights Moor + Newtondale to Levisham

heather on sleights moor

 

This is exactly what I wanted to see walking in Yorkshire, heather on the moors. This photo was taken yesterday late morning on Sleights Moor, which we reached via a short uphill walk from Grosmont, just over a mile of steep gradients. Perfect morning constitutional. We set off early yesterday and got the first North Yorkshire Moors Railway train from Pickering to Grosmont – unfortunately the first train wasn’t steam but diesel locomotive, Beloved thought this was because shovelling coal is too much hard work on Sunday morning. It rained but the rain had stopped by the time we reached Grosmont and by the time we were walking on the moor, the sun had come out. You could see over to Sleights village down below and Whitby, a little further on.

view to whitby sleights moor

We also saw lots and lots of grouse, Beloved, walking ahead of me had startled a few and they emit a sort of quacking sound like very annoyed ducks or geese. Very funny. This whole time, we were completely alone on the moor. On our way back, we saw a couple of people walking up following the road and then a couple more, walking on the road again. We had these glorious views all to ourselves.

view from sleights moor

 

Back in Grosmont, there was a steam train about to leave but they kindly let us on so we didn’t have time to wander about. We got off again at Newtondale Halt, which is a request stop – really a platform with a little cabin in the middle of the forest. One notice warning you about lack of signposting and another about adders. Ha. I picked up a stick, which actually came in pretty useful later when I managed to sprain my ankle yet again. Thankfully no adders.

The walk was meant to have taken us over the Hole of Horcum but the path was not very well signposted so we ended up walking along a ridge with the Hole a little way away to our left. It wasn’t very far and only a short climb but no clear paths to it, just a lot of bracken and heather. We already had great views from where we were so decided to stay on the same path and forget the Hole.

newtondale halt view towards levisham

Great views on all sides, the moors railway running along. While sitting on the train, you don’t really get much of an idea of the scale – you mainly see forest on either side. The path is just so much more interesting. Yet not many people seem to be enjoying this. We saw only one family coming from Levisham as we were climbing up shortly after leaving Newtondale Halt and then no one else until we were  almost at the end of the walk. We then saw a few little groups – people probably just driving up to Levisham and coming out for a little stroll after lunch.

newtondale halt towards levisham looking back

 

View back, we’d walked all along the edge on the right. We found a path down, crossed the railway tracks and then walked to Levisham station, reaching it with just a few minutes to spare before train back to Pickering. In all, we walked just over 9 miles. A decent walk overall with two little climbs and stunning views.

Interestingly, the trains we took were pretty busy. The stations full of people lined up to see trains arrive and depart. Photo below is taken at Goathland station, with people taking photos lining the platform and the little bridge. The paths, in contrast, were pretty deserted. I don’t know whether we’re here at a particularly weird time of the year but it was a very sunny weekend so you could imagine people wanting to go out and about – probably only to sit down again though.

Goathland platform with people

 

 

Helmsley and Rievaulx

rievaulx church view NWWhen I thought about coming to Yorkshire for a walking weekend, one of the main criteria for choosing a base to stay in was to have an abbey within easy reach. Hence Pickering, from here, Helmsley is half an hour bus ride and Rievaulx Abbey a 3 mile walk. It was a hot day so we walked fairly slowly from Helmsley to Rievaulx. The path follows the Cleveland Way with some fabulous views.cleveland way to rievaulxThe Abbey, dating from the 12th century was a home to Cistercian monks, it was dissolved, like all the others by Henry VIII and a little museum on the site tells you what the Tudors used the dismantled lead from the roof or stained glass window pieces for after the dissolution. What is amazing is how much of the abbey still remains today – Rievaulx is one of the most complete ruins in Yorkshire. There is certainly a lot more of the church remaining than at Whitby. We were blessed with good weather although the forecast did mention possible thunderstorms and I did wander how atmospheric the whole place would have been with thunderstorms.rievaulx church columnsI took loads of photographs, even took a tripod with me, just in case and also to weigh the rucksack down, as if it weighed nothing in the first place. Did I take the tripod out, no. Still, we spent a good couple of hours walking slowly around, taking photos and admiring the soaring arches. I do love a soaring arch.rievaulx more church columnsThere were a few people about but it wasn’t very busy, what I liked about it most is that people seem to choose Rievaulx Abbey as a good picnic spot, it is quiet, contemplative but also quite powerful in its own way.rievaulx flowers growing in the kitchen I also liked how nature is claiming this place back slowly but surely. Birds were nesting everywhere, flowers and grass growing in the most unlikely spots like the above, which I believe was the part of the old kitchen and infirmary.

Walk from Helmsley to Rievaulx is 3 miles and as we walked slowly to, we thought it would take ages to get back. It took no time at all. We pretty much marched it back to Helmsley, heat or no. The walk back actually felt like a good exercise. This is the last you see of the abbey (I took the photo on our way in though), it is a pretty stunning sight through gaps in the hedge.rievaulx first sightingOnce in Helmsley, we realised that we wouldn’t really have enough time to see the castle properly – another English Heritage property and another ruin. Beloved said we’d had enough ruins for one day and he was right, so we sat in a pub on the main square looking out at the world passing by. Could have done that for hours. Beloved also spotted a good deli so we stocked up on honey, chutney and local cheese. We only did 6 miles in the end so not a long walk at all by our standards but very enjoyable.

North York Moors, Pickering

We’ve come to Yorkshire for a walk this weekend. Didn’t expect it to be quite so hot. Don’t think we’ve ever had hot weather before while away for a walking weekend so this is a whole new thing for us. We got to Pickering yesterday afternoon and only had a walk about the little town. It felt too hot to do a longer walk, especially after train, train and a very late bus it took to get here. Think we needed acclimatising. yorkshire pickering castle 1Pickering castle, which is clearly a ruin. We walked around but didn’t go in. It’s managed by English Heritage so they obviously charge an entry fee and I am not sure that there’s enough to see once inside to merit it. So we had a lovely little walk around it instead.yorkshire tree by pickering castleAnd spotted this tree with huge mushrooms growing from it. We also went to look at Pickering Station, which has a steam train service to Whitby. The station was very cute but I didn’t take any photographs. We later got lucky with a steam train which passed us at the crossing nearby.yorkshire steam trainI’ve planned a walk tomorrow for which we take the steam train up towards Whitby, then get off and walk back. Can’t wait. Today we’re off to see ruins of an abbey, which should be fun.

On a roll

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Love, love, love Daunt Books! This photo was a complete accident, I went to Daunt bookshop in Marylebone yesterday for genuine work research purposes (not to buy books for self) and a colleague asked me to check out books that might make a good birthday present for a two year old. I was happily snapping some titles to show her and my phone decided to take this rather lovely photo of the children’s section by itself.

My work research completed (was not very interesting but was productive), I also picked out a couple of fab books for another nearly-two-year-old and took stock of books I’ve read recently. It’s now been 4 weeks since I finished my latest course and in that time I’ve managed to read 6 books! This time last year, I’d just had an exam and looked forward to a summer packed with reading books but I only managed a few, I guess the books I read were mainly non fiction which generally takes me longer to read. So, as a little pat on the back for making such a good and sustained effort to reduce books’ ‘pile of shame’, I rewarded self with The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane, which is now finally out in paperback, yay! Really looking forward to reading this, have booked a little walking trip to Yorkshire moors next month and think it could be a very good companion. I also got a rather cute book for Beloved – Our Songbirds, which was a nice little surprise present. This is why I love Daunt, every time I walk in, I feel inspired, they display books I want to read and books I didn’t know I really want to read and I could easily spend serious amounts of time and money every time I go in. Think I was very good at self control yesterday, walking out with just the ‘necessaries’.