Sunday 4th December 2011
4 miles approx
Toilets: Numerous pubs and cafes in Stoke Newington; public toilets in Springfield Park; pub on Lea Bridge Road.
Last time we arrived at Stoke Newington, Abney Park Cemetery was already closed. This time we decided to go there first. It’s a Victorian cemetery and now a Nature Reserve, which, although managed, has been allowed to keep an overgrown and decaying feel about the place. It was beautiful and very peaceful, and in the centre there was an abandoned chapel.
We then had lunch at the Jolly Butchers pub, which was excellent. They have roasts on Sundays, including a vegetarian nut roast.
The main part of the walk then began. We headed along some residential streets, before reaching Springfield Park, which has both a pond and a community orchard.
The route then joined the River Lea, which we followed for the rest of the afternoon. There were lots of people living in boats.
The path followed the edge of Walthamstow Marshes. There were signs saying that we should beware of cattle, but we didn’t see any.
A few minutes after crossing Lea Bridge Road there we made a slight detour to the Middlesex Filter Beds, where a piece of art can be found: Nature’s Throne by Paula Haughney. It’s sometimes nicknamed as the ‘Ackney ‘Enge.
Upon returning to the river path we found that someone living on a boat was roasting chestnuts in a wood-fired oven and selling them, so we couldn’t resist buying some.
The rest of the journey along the river was peaceful. Across the river was a place called Leabank Square. They had a big sign up advertising their blog, so I just thought I’d pass the message on. Much of it is about local community events, but if you read through it, it contains some clear messages about how local people feel about the Olympics coming to East London. Many people’s lives have been disrupted by the building works, the noise, the pulling down of entire buildings, the losing of homes. And let’s not forget that it was supposed to create local employment, but many of the people working at the Olympics itself will be unpaid volunteers. Plus, I know we all have our individual tastes, and the area is going through rapid change, but I saw a lot of downright unattractive buildings nearby.
Just before the turning off the river we got a good view of the new Olympic Stadium at Stratford. It’s an impressive building in itself, but you have to look at it in context and see the upheaval it’s caused. I’ve met so many people who’ve said how much they resent it and what it stands for.
From there, it was a short walk to Hackney Wick Station. Just below it was some weird graffiti. Beware of the teeth.