On December 18th, one intrepid rider turned out for a traffic-free ride along the canals from Camden to Waltham Abbey.
The weather was crisp but clear, making the most punishing part the half hour we waited between 9 and 9.30 at Camden Lock for any others, which gave our fingers and toes ample time to freeze up.
We set off to the East along Regents Canal towards Islington just after 9.30. It was a typical towpath ride, with a notable lack of anglers for some reason – could be that they didn’t like the cold. Our only trafficked bit (the tunnel bypass in Islington) went without incident, and we were soon back on the canal heading past the City Road Basin.
After Victoria Park, we turned north along the Hertford Union Canal, which eventually took us to the River Lee Navigation. Our first real sign of any activity came at Hackney Marsh, which was teeming with footballers, also providing us with a convenient comfort break.
The low point of the ride came soon after with the industrialised bit near Tottenham, but all familiar sights to the regular city cyclist. Of course, the history of London’s canals is all about industry, so one can’t really be critical of this sort of thing. Indeed, one of the most interesting sights along the way is the old Lesney Matchbox factory (where the toy cars were once produced) near Hackney Wick.
We continued along the path (sometimes diverging from the canal into Lee Valley Park) all the way up to Waltham Abbey. By this point, it was just about 12.00, and we were keen to find a hot lunch to warm us up and fortify us for the ride home. I’d researched pubs before the ride, but there seemed to be enough of them to allow a decision to be made on the day. Our first choice was virtually opposite the Abbey itself, but it didn’t serve food. The landlord was good enough to recommend another pub though, which turned out to be ideal. We spent the next hour or so relaxing with a roast lunch and pint.
The ride home seemed slower than the ride out, though it was actually a bit quicker (I put this down to the turkey, stuffing, and beer).
An excellent ride overall, and I hope to be able to share it with more CCCers next time!