On Friday evening three of us decided it would be nice to take a walk together on the following day, Saturday. The temperature was cool when we made the decision but come the next morning it was a different story and the weather was forecast to be about the hottest it's been this summer. True, we haven't had a glorious English summer this year but I still think that 30° C is hot for walking - others no doubt will disagree.
One of our party was keen to meet early in the morning so we could be out for the whole day but there was shopping to be bought and chores to be done so we compromised and met at around noon at Hackney Wick station. Our plan was to amble roughly north along the Lea Valley Park as far as Springfield Park, which is a distance of about three miles, with no particular plans in mind after that. We hadn't done this walk for over a year and were curious to know how the area may have changed in the mean time. This is because part of the Lea Valley Park is being incorporated into the 2012 Olympic site and this will change the area's appearance. However the only change we could see were blue hoardings that have been erected on the east side of part of the tow path restricting, but not impeding, the movement of cyclists and walkers for a short distance.
So far, so good. No sign then of the Olympics spoiling our weekend pursuits at least for the time being. Our walk took on a pleasant pace and we paused every so often to look at something, or pick a berry, or take a swig of water and there were few other people around to disturb the peace. At some point I remarked on the sight, on the opposite bank, of a partly submerged canal boat still tied at one end to a post on the canal side. My companions didn't find the sight of a sunken boat remarkable, and, while I would have liked to have stared at it for longer wondering who had left it in that state, they kept on walking.
So with Hackney Marsh to our right, which is apparently to be turned into a coach park for the Olympics and no longer available for football matches, our destination for lunch was not far off. First of all we had to pass the Middlesex filter beds and nature reserve. We recommended visiting this on our return to our friend but in the event did not go back that way and so the opportunity on this occasion was lost.
Here we crossed Cow Bridge and got onto the west side of the canal and headed to the Princess of Wales pub for lunch. I always find this pub a slightly depressing place because it is full of photos of Diana but today we chose to sit outside and so didn't have to look at them. While we were waiting for our food we looked over the canal to a recently restored building which has an air of a Lutyens country house about it. Far from being the home of an affluent industrialist it is the office from where Thames Water authority are coordinating the upgrading of our leaking Victorian water mains which will take who knows how long to accomplish. There is another pub next door to the Princess of Wales which has a nautical theme and I think we should try it on our next visit. There is a chance that the food might be better than the lunch we had which looked nice enough but didn't taste of anything much.
So on to Springfield Park which we reached by continuing along the canal and it's entrance is just past the Anchor and Hope pub. The park used to have some rather elegant villas in it and one remains with a café in it. There are formal gardens in it where a wedding party were having their photographs taken and acres and acres of lawn where people were sunbathing and picnicing. The park is on a hill so you can get a good view of the Walthamstow Marshes and since most of London is so flat it's nice to get above sea level occasionally and this is where I chose to sit and do this drawing.