We gathered at the Highgate end of the cycleway across Hampstead Heath, a dozen in all including two younger riders: Max and Essenine. The group from the Sidings was brought over by Dave.
We then headed in a south easterly direction through quiet roads in Dartmoth Park and Tufnell Park, stopping for a moment at the site of the former Caledonian Meat Market. We passed by the back of Pentonville Prison on Roman Road and then in Barnsbury we headed due east and across Upper Street where we took the useful little track beside the Town Hall.
After crossing Canonbury Road, we stopped briefly while John told us about the history of the New River constructed by Hugh Myddleton in 17th century to supply water to London. It flows past here on it’s way from the River Lea in Hertfordshire to Sadler’s Wells. There is a very good walking path beside the New River.
This took us onto the useful east-west cycle route 8 through Hackney that runs through the well known De Beauvoir area in which rat running motors are kept out by bollards across the road and sometimes by planters. The photo on the left shows St Peter’s Church in De Beauvoir Town. It can be seen that little children can ride in the road without any concern from their parents.
We continued to cycle due east, across Kingsland Road and into London Fields where we had a successful rendezvous with Louise who increased our numbers to thirteen. In London Fields, we were overjoyed to see a really beautiful wild flower meadow and wished that other open spaces would grow wild flowers.
As we entered Broadway Market, we were joined by James (photo on right), who had been pursuing us from Highgate to Victoria Park and then back again! James was the original author of this route.
For a short distance we followed the Regent’s Canal and then went into Victoria Park where we had our first rest at the Pavilion Café by the lake.
After the rest, we set off across the much larger eastern side of Victoria Park and out the other side to use the little bridge over the East Cross motorway route to join the River Lea Navigation by the site of the Olympic park. We soon had to take a diversion past some works and had an amusing time on a zig zag path which turned us all into kiddies as we manoeuvred round the bends.
As we rode along beside the River Lea, we parted from Steven and Essenine who had done very well so far on her little bike, but needed a rest. After crossing Hackney Marshes we stopped for a while at the Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserve. We then crossed the river and soon reached our lunch spot by Springfield Park. Fortunately we almost all had sandwiches so were able to enjoy our lunch without the services of the café which had unexpectedly closed. As shown in the photos we were pleased to relax on the grass in the park before starting up the only ‘hill’ on this ride.
The return on this circular route passes through Stamford Hill and follows a route close to the New River path by the two reservoirs, finally getting to the Manor park junction at the south east corner of Finsbury Park. To cross this junction most people took one of the walking routes, but riding was also demonstrated. We crossed the park to the lake and stopped for a coffee/tea break.
We took the path over the mainline railway bridge and then turned onto the Parkland Walk which follows the route of a former railway line through Crouch End and up the hill to Highgate. We left the walk at Crouch end and then cut down through Elthorne Park and Whittington Park and past the Tufnell Park playing fields and arrived at our starting point.
The map of the route can be seen on Google Maps
Photos by Ellen Gates – few more on Flickr