A Sunday Cycle: Lee Valley Park

Those of you who know me, know what I do, and know who I do it for, may be aware that the last couple of weeks have a been a little busy for me. In fact they were the craziest two weeks of my professional career so far. Last weekend was a complete write-off and so I wasn’t able to post any updates.

As I worked late into the night (after night), I would occasionally think back to the weekend before my world seemed to tip upside down and to a day cycling in the Lea Valley.

The river Lea (or Lee), ‘London’s second river’ apparently springs up in the midst of what is now the heavily concreted suburbia of Luton. I always imagine the source of rivers to be in some hilly meadow somewhere. But this inauspicious and urbanised birthplace is perhaps apt. The Lea has been carefully shaped and guided by man with much of its course straightened and navigable all the way down to its tidal end where it spills through the beautiful but largely decaying industrial desert of London’s east end at Bow Creek and into the Thames. I took the photo below on a winter walk where I didn’t come across another human being for over two miles despite being close to the Thames.

But this industrial winter view was far removed from the summer scenes nearly twenty miles north just outside the M25. The Lee Valley (just get used to my contrary spelling of ‘Lea’) punctures London like a green and blue spear. Have a look at a map at the string of reservoirs, canals and tributaries that act as wild refuge – almost like a path – down through the concrete jungle and towards the Thames.

Once you get outside of London, the Lee Valley opens up even more into a blissful mix of  of arrow-straight canals surrounded by pools, ponds, lakes, and streams.

You can see my partner, below, waiting almost patiently while I faffed around stopping every other minute taking photos and delaying our journey towards a Sunday pub lunch in a beer garden by the river.

Lunch was further delayed by some rather amusingly cute calves…

Further distractions came from the wild flowers growing along the waterside, such as this wild iris, Yellow Flag…

and Common Mallow…

and wild Chamomile…

and Common Poppy…

As last weekend was spent stuck in a largely empty office tower working in the stuffy heat with no air conditioning, I would occasionally cast my mind back to the weekend before of pure country air trundling past meadows and waterways…

I should have perhaps paid more heed to the grey clouds’ warning of an almighty oncoming storm and the Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times!”


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