Tuesday 5 August 2014 – London.
Since I have been back from my travels I have had two rounds of job interviews, both with employers rather than with agencies, and this week I have second interviews with both of them, so I have fingers crossed for both jobs. They are different roles, both in IT and I would be happy if I was offered the opportunity with either one. With thoughts of potential employment ahead and still with the objective of dropping a couple of pounds I decided to make good use of my free days and get outside as much as possible. Like last week I was meeting my mate John for coffee in Canary Wharf, but this time I decided I would ride my bike, and like last week I took my camera. I wasn’t in a rush…
The ride to Canary Wharf from Walthamstow is pretty good, most of it is off road and on the tow path down the side of the Lea Navigation and the Limehouse Cut.
The first couple of kilometres are through city streets, but soon enough I was entering the Walthamstow Marshes area, via a hunched over slow pedal under the railway.
The marshes are a lovely rural spot on the banks of the River Lea, there is plenty of wildlife, both domestic and wild and it is quite popular with dog walkers, runners, cyclists and families out for a picnic on a nice sunny day.
Just past Lea Bridge Road the river splits into two, the river itself and the Lea Navigation. The Navigation is the main channel for the hundreds of narrow river boats that ply the water ways of the UK. The Navigation also connects up with the Hertford Union Canal which feeds into the immensely popular Regents Canal that passes through central London. The meeting point of Hertford Union Canal is at Hackney Wick, which is fast becoming another key street art zone in east London. There is a bit of art on walls down the tow path, including this lovely piece from Sweet Toof.
A new work from a Brazilian artist who has recently visited and whose name I have totally forgotten.
As well as some of the usual Hackney Wick suspects like Himbad, Pang and Broken Fingaz.
Once past Hackney Wick the tow path leaves the trees and grass verges behind and starts to pass through more commercial, light industrial and residential areas. It is still pretty to a degree, but the ride is not quite as nice. I large patches the river is heavily weeded – it was also just announced as one of the most polluted water way in the UK, though lots of people fish in it,
and a lot of people travel up and down it.
There is also a lot of construction going along at the southern, Bow end of the river, with dozens of flats going up. It was looking like I was going to be late for my coffee so I stopped taking photos and put my foot, well both feet, down and rode on to Canary Wharf.
After a very enjoyable coffee in the sun with John I rode back the way I came. However, this time I paid attention on the way down as there is a weird little intersection at Limehouse Key and last time I rode this way I ended up heading off to the Regents Canal and had to do a loop back at Victoria Gardens in Hackney. The confusion is less obvious here, but if you end up on the bridge coming the other way, you are definitely going to not get on the right canal path!
I took a slightly more leisurely ride back home, stopping to take photos as things caught my fancy, like this bit of graf, a sentiment I agree with.
There are three places where you have to cross the river, most of them can be ridden over, though of course courtesy says if there are pedestrians walking across the bridge then getting off the bike is the best thing to do.
There is a long term rumour of a crocodile or large snake living in the Lea, the last that was heard about it was just before the Olympics in 2012, but the rumour has been a while for a while, I am not sure if old school street artist Rowdy was painting after a sighting though.
Though this has not made much impact on the amount of birdlife on the canal, and there are a lot of chicks around at the moment.
There is a lovely little stretch of canal near Three Mile Lane with some nice grassed banks and these lovely old mill buildings, this is definitely my favourite part of this stretch of the Lea.
Just up from Three Mile is the dreaded Bow roundabout, the most deadly section of road in the UK for cyclists, and one that is fortunately high on the list to be fixed. Luckily the path passes beneath it.
Soon I was back to Hackney Wick / Stratford area with artists and painted warehouses on one side of the river and athletes and the Olympic Park on the other.
I walk this way every so often and have never seen a sunken boat before. The owner was there waiting for people to come and lift the boat. He said it was old and had been a little leaky, but just went down a couple of days ago when the battery died. It looked like it was quite a nice boat before that.
For most of the way there is a single path, shared by walkers, runners and cyclists. I like to think it is shared with care, but suspect some cyclists give others a bad name. Never being in a rush I am always polite and warn other users with a polite ding of my bell from as far back as I can. There is a nice section near Hackney Marshes that actually has two paths, the inner one is supposed to be used by cyclists, but naturally has the worst surface. I tend to use it, but there are as many dog walkers here as the other path so it is a no-win situation.
I spotted this cool Sweet Toof painted canal boat up towards Lea Bridge Rd.
I rode back through Walthamstow Marshes a different way to my southbound trip, I wanted to visit the railway underpass that was painted last summer as part of the ‘Mural on the marsh” project. Brazilian artist Louis Masai had added a bee to the wall as part of an ongoing series highlight the global plight of bees.
It looks like it is going to be an early blackberry season this year, I must come back with a container!
I had been putting off stopping for a coffee riding since I left Canary Wharf, there are some nice cafes around the Hackney Wick area, but I wanted to head to Bygga Bo, my favourite Walthamstow coffee shop, but I had totally forgotten it was Tuesday and they were closed… Bugger !
Later in the afternoon I heard I did not get one of the jobs I had interviewed for, oh well.