Recent outings and activities...

Lynne Jinan JapaneseJapanese Moon Celebration

The Group met this Thursday evening to celibrate the autumn moon, Japanese-style. The Mid-Autumn Festival is named Tsukimi (月見) or Otsukimi (literally means moon-viewing) in Japan. Celebrations of the festival take place on the 15th day of the eight month of the traditional Japanese calendar, which equates to September in the modern Solar calender, so maybe we were just a little early. It was a full moon, though, and we did do the moon-viewing.

We ate sushi, drank green tea, stood and gazed at the full moon and some of us even dressed for the occasion, too. It was all very civilised.

We will be running the 2016 Roding's Rally in a few months time. Some of us will be camped out in Epping Forest waiting for the 200 hundred-plus competitors to find our check points. All very different, but the moon will be just as beautiful and the company just as good.

Cliff Hendon, 19th August 2016




Navigating the Lea

but not by boat...

The sun was already beating down from an almost if not totally cloudless sky as we assembled at Stratford Station for a walk along the River Lea.

EFOG members were joined by three members of the 18-plus group from Goodmayes, two of whom Fozie and I recognised from our Norfolk Broads voyage earlier in the year, when EFOG members joined their holiday. Our next task was to find Ken, who'd said he'd be coming, but hadn't arrived by the 10am start-time. Phone calls failing, we went across the bridge to the Westfield complex to collect Louise, who was waiting for us outside a well-known store. Except that she wasn't there – or at least she wasn't where we were. This time the phone call worked, and she, plus Ken, both waiting at us at the level below, joined the already-eleven of us to get underway.

Of course Westfield's open-air concourses were already busy, so it was a relief to leave that and the crowds heading towards that tower thing in the Q.E. Olympic Park to take a quieter route through the 'wild' area. It isn't really wild – it was all planted in exchange for the natural wilderness that had been in these parts pre-2012 – but it is pretty and full of flowers and insects.

We joined the riverside path – again nothing like what it was (if it was) – but easy-going, and in spite of  Hackney and the A12 and other roads passing over and past, increasingly more rural-feeling as we strode northwards. The trees by the river – rather than the navigation – gave us some shelter from a hot sun, but it was still hot. At the Essex Filter Beds near Lea Bridge Road we joined the River Lea Navigation – that part of the Lea that has been converted into a canal for boats, with locks to maintain water levels.

It was still relatively early, so the Princess of Wales pub by the waterside was quiet, and so too was the relatively new west-bank pathway alongside the navigation. But the cyclists numbers were building up and we were always pleased when – particularly from behind – a bell was rung to announce their presence. I'd walked – at least on the Essex bank – this water numerous times in the past, but not recently enough to have experienced the almost continuous blocks of new – and probably expensive – dwelling places. Nor had I experienced the numbers of narrow-boats and other craft moored often on both banks of the river. Things have changed enormously around here.

Our objective was Stonebridge Lock, which is situated between the Lockwood Reservoir on the Walthamstow side and Tottenham Marshes on the Tottenham side. It is about level - northwards - with Highams Park in Chingford. However, it is a fair little walk from Stratford to there, and as we weren't on a major hike it was nice to sit and have a drink and a snack at the little cafe opposite Springfield Marina.

lea stonebridge 160815 07830artContinuing towards Stonebridge Lock, the moored craft were almost continuous all the way. Many, I noted, were not the prettily-painted and well-kept narrow-boats or fine cruisers that one usually encounters on the canal system, but rather decrepit-looking craft, and sometimes covered in – what to me – appeared to be rubbish. It is evident that many are being used not for the pleasure of living on the canals, or using them, but as a cheap form of accommodation. I suspect that many were unlicensed.

As we approached Stonebridge lock – after an almost 6 mile walk – we could see lock-keeper Jim and club-member Lee waving to us from the lock-bridge.

There is another cafe at the lock, and there we met other club-members, Val and Lynne and Jill - who had cycled there - and there was opportunity for another drink or whatever before Jim demonstrated - courtesy of a conveniently passing-through narrow-boat – the operation of the lock. There are a pair of lock at Stonebridge, one mechanically operated by way of a key enabling button-controlled servers to operate, and the other manually operated in the more traditional manner. The second of these didn't look as if it had been operated for a while, and that may well have been due to the presence – when available – of volunteer lock-keepers such as Jim. He explained that as well as operating the lock, he was also helping to make the lock look more attractive by general tidying-up, renewing paintwork and some gardening.

We spent a while with Jim then, ready to return home, some of the group got on their bikes whilst others walked to a nearby bus-route. The return walking group was thus not quite as numerous as on the outward journey, and – apart from a delay caused by a red-eared terrapin – we made a faster journey back - not stopping for refreshments, either. We did loose a couple more walkers en-route, preferring to take convenient alternative transport rather than return to Stratford, so the final number that endured the almost shadeless hot sun, the increasing cyclists, noisy boats, riverside cafes and other amusements as we got closer to the Olympic Park, was seven. Our most difficult navigation exercise was possibly the final approach to Stratford Station through the crowds in the Q.E. Park, and I certainly felt that I'd done a hefty walk. My head was leaking.

The total distance was 11 miles, and although that was all on surfaced trackway, and an almost imperceptible incline and decline (the river and the navigation does flow downhill, after all) the heat - and at least for me – some of the cyclists, made it feel all of that distance. Good walk though, and thanks to Sue for organising and leading it and to Jim for showing us his lock.

Paul Ferris 16th August 2016

North Downs Way - Charing to Chilham

And now, the end is near, just one more leg before we face the final curtain... .  After trundling up hill and down dale, Ken's marathon walk along the North Down's Way reached its penultimate leg on Saturday 23rd July. This stretch, from Charing to Chilham, was a somewhat more strenuous hike than the previous one, following the route to Canterbury like the Pilgrim's of old. Quite a bit of the route shares the path with the Pilgrim's Way and along the shaded paths with their deeply worn tracks its quite easy to pretend you are the Wife of Bath or the Miller, en route to the shrine of Thomas a Becket.  

As usual, Ken's weather provider came good, and we had a sunny day, though the two mile section through King's Wood was most welcome, especially as it was uphill, though without the intervention of any bandits or robbers - apparently a common problem back in the day.  The views across the fields were lovely, it is easy to see why Kent is called the Garden of England.

We ended with a brief visit to the town of Chilham for some refreshment, which would have been longer had we known our train had been cancelled and that we would have to wait an hour for the next one. We then headed off on the slow train back to town to prepare for the final pilgrimage in October.

Sue U.  2nd August 2016

north downs way chilham 160723 952artChilham Castle

north downs way pub 160723 944artRefreshment stop at The Flying Horse



north downs way pano 160723 940art


Update on Cody Dock

A few weeks ago Duncan and I visited Cody Dock, the community project by the River Lea near Canning Town. Some of you will remember a serendipitous visit to the site in May 2014, when we were lucky to meet the founder of the project - Simon Myers - who told us about it and allowed us to walk through the as-yet unopened grounds. (see here).

Since then, both Duncan and I have kept in touch with Simon and the project, and Duncan has certainly been helping out in the garden. Even I have done a bit of weeding!

I find it always a nice place to visit - the whole idea is that it is for the community, and also the plants and animals that live there. The day we visited was a nice, warm and sunny day, just right for having a look at how the flowers are doing, how the project is getting on generally, saying hello to people - and sitting down to have a cup of tea and maybe something to eat.

Cody Dock cafe 20160620 HDRartAnd that latter has come on apace with the recent opening of Cody Dock Cafe. This is being run by Nadia, a lovely lady who cooks wonderful North African cuisine to enjoy in the peaceful surrounds of Cody Dock. There is tea, coffee and other drinks available, and an increasing selection - including ice cream - for those who are beginning to find the place. More and more people from the surrounding light-industry and business park are visiting for their lunch, volunteers at the Dock find the cafe a welcome facility, and it will be a welcome stop for walkers and cyclist using the Lea Valley Way - when it finally opens in these Lower Lea parts!

At present you can walk or cycle down the Lea as far as Cody Dock from - for example - Three Mills. But it is an under-used route as there is a complicated dog-leg at Bromley-by-Bow which necessitates walking alongside the busy Blackwall Tunnel Approach Road so as to access a bridge leading onto the path. That is soon to change - hopefully by September - when a staircase will be opened onto the bridge. At Cody Dock, you can now walk through it every day from the riverside path, as it now remains open during daylight hours. It should be possible to continue through the dock along the riverside towards Canning Town Bridge and Trinity Buoy Wharf, but there is a complication in the access rights along the stretch of riverside south of Cody Dock. The path is there - but so is a barrier! So - at present you can walk through Cody Dock, stop to have a look round, a sit or a snack, then leave by the main gate into an industrial and business park! However, that isn't far from Star Lane DLR Station, so that's a good way of getting back after a visit.

Events are held there from time to time - we went to a wonderful Halloween evening last October - and the next one will be a Harvest Festival on 17th September. The project is keen to celebrate the seasons - particularly the Solstice and the Equinox - so as to try to bring peoples minds more into touch with nature, history, culture and what is around them.

If you haven't been there - or even if you have - I'd say it was worth a visit. Don't take sandwiches, though - use Nadia's cafe!

Paul Ferris, 27th July 2016

A Start to the Rodings Rally

The sun shone as we met by Chingford Golf course to start the checkpoint plotting for this year’s Rally in November. We had hoped to locate the positions for three of the nine checkpoints, but things did not quite turn out as planned...

A short walk from the car park - but up hill - had us reaching for the water bottles as the heat built up. Peter split us into three groups to triangulate on the allotted place and off we went, armed with compasses and tape measures. After what seemed an age two groups had managed to get to within 50 metres of each other and the third hadn’t found where they were supposed to start.

We gave up on that one and walked to another location to try measuring locating another one of our proposed checkpoints. Anyone who says Essex is flat hasn’t walked in this part of Epping Forest, and we staggered up the slopes raising quite a heat. More swallowing of water and then we scattered again to come together at the allotted place. This time one group was far away from the others so we gave up again.

We walked back to Bury Road car park and drove to the bikers’ hut near High Beach where we had a snack, admired the new hut and enjoyed the sun. We all agreed we had had a good time and next time we were definitely going to be more accurate.

Brian U. 23rd July 2016

checkpoint 20160717 132206art