diamond geezer

 Thursday, August 27, 2015

ROUND TOWER
A walk around the edge of Tower Hamlets
9)
Cambridge Heath → Hackney Wick
(2½ miles) [25 photos]

Here's a long section across the northern edge of the borough, the majority of which is park. Anywhere other than Tower Hamlets this could be a bit dull, but the park in question is Victoria Park, one of the borough's outdoor treasures, so all's good. Then on to Hackney Wick, the part which isn't actually in Hackney, before returning to the Lea and knocking on the door of the Olympic Park. By the time I reached this part of my circumnavigation I'd been walking for seven hours and had only stopped for a rest once. If you're struggling too, rest assured there's only one more section to go. [map]


Cambridge Heath Road (Tower Hamlets) becomes Mare Street (Hackney) at the bridge over the Regent's Canal. It's a busy spot, more so on the road than the water, although the towpath can be chock full with bikes and feet at times. I'd like to take the riverside route from here but am again thwarted by the towpath being on the left hand side and therefore in the wrong borough. Shame, because the canal would be the direct route to Victoria Park, but I now need to take a backstreet diversion instead. Vyner Street looks a bit grim, a cobbled thoroughfare lined with warehouses and the wrong kind of offices, and a string of taxis parked up so that they can be maintained. The only sign of life is The Victory pub, outside which one lone drinker eyes me suspiciously as I pass by with my camera. Only later do I discover that Vyner Street is a celebrated art hotspot with a cluster of cutting edge galleries... or at least was. A handful remain, but most moved out a couple of years ago due to excessive rent increases, and would anybody like to buy a luxury duplex apartment?



Housing kicks back in at the end of the street, initially in a nondescript way. Along Lark Row there's even a big enough gap to see through the fence across the canal, most notably the western entrance to Victoria Park, tauntingly unreachable on the opposite bank. It looks pretty, and pretty busy, and I'll be there in about ten minutes. Oh but Sewardstone Road is lovely too, the kind of desirable Victorian terrace that makes homeowners smile and estate agents leap. Tower Hamlets still boasts residential gems like this in unbombed, unredeveloped clusters, and this area around the London Chest Hospital is a good example. Or rather that's the former London Chest Hospital, whose services transferred to Barts in April and so is now up for grabs as a 'Residential development opportunity'. Potential purchasers are advised that "the site is subject to a number of Tree Preservation Orders", but that none of the buildings are listed, so imagine the profits four acres of shiny towers could bring.

A broad bridge finally leads across the canal into the splendours of Victoria Park. An ice cream van often awaits those arriving here, as do two howling hounds perched on plinths at the Bonner Gate. These are the Dogs of Alcibiades, sculptures from classical Rome copied from the British Museum and posted here in 1912 (or rather they're recent copies, the originals having been heavily vandalised a few years back). Next there follows a walk of over a mile and a half around the edge of Vicky Park, that's almost 10% of the perimeter of Tower Hamlets. Everywhere within the park is within the borough, whereas all the houses, roads (and two pubs) immediately across the fence belong to Hackney. For once I'm walking the right side of the line.

Initially my route demands that I walk back along the canal to the entrance I spotted earlier, past narrowboats tied up along the bank. But then I leave the water and curve round through the park proper to head back in the opposite direction. It's a hot and sunny day (remember those?) so the grass is liberally dotted with peeled and peeling bodies taking full advantage. On the floral lawns a Staffie rolls over and waves her legs in the air, while her owner picnics behind a palm tree and pretends not to notice. Meanwhile on the internal roadway the occasional scarlet-painted TfL-funded hirebike wobbles past, and a fleet of kid-powered mini-scooters pushes by. It's nice here, and tens of thousands of local residents know it.



Grove Road divides Vicky Park into two very unequal halves, the smaller western bit more ornamental and the much larger eastern bit more recreational. At the interface is The Royal Inn On The Park, a Lauriston local, after which it's grass and trees pretty much all the way. One particularly splendid feature is the Burdett-Coutts Fountain, a Gothic granite creation provided for the people of the East End by Angela Burdett-Coutts, a banking heiress who devoted most of her life to philanthropic largesse. Her gift no longer dispenses drinking water, but was recently renovated to celebrate its 150th anniversary and looks loftily magnificent. Alas most of the park's other fine features lie away from the perimeter, so I plod on along the avenue with a cricket match the most notable attraction.

The furthest north that Tower Hamlets goes is the park's Molesworth Gate, by chimneyed Molesworth Lodge, leading down and out onto busy Wick Road. I'm pretty much knackered now, having been on my feet for a good seventeen miles, so in need of a decent place to rest. Thankfully a much better option than a bogstandard bench exists, one of the fourteen stone alcoves from Old London Bridge, of which four still survive. Two are here, a decent distance apart, donated to the pioneering park in 1860 and now with convenient seating inside. Once rested I exit the park along the boundary through a gap in Cadogan Terrace, where a hooped footbridge crosses the chasm of the A12 dual carriageway. There's a pretty good view across Hackney Wick from up here, and also of occasional military flypasts - any plane heading for The Mall generally flies over here first.

The border here follows Wallis Road to the Overground station, then tracks directly along the railway line. The area hereabouts somehow remains packed with backstreet businesses and a creative vibe, as yet unwrecked by the 2012 tornado immediately across the river. Long-dead pubs are covered with better-than-average graffiti, artists' studios remain affordable, and the smell of baking bagels wafts out across White Post Lane. The Wick retains its cool, and draws in copious numbers of the young and hip to craft beer pizzerias, concealed skateparks, pop-up cider gardens and the occasional flea market. Wandering through without a beard, I feel almost out of place. And while I love that the neighbourhood survives, I can't help wondering how long landlords will be able to resist piecemeal replacement of commercial yards and buildings with more profitable residential boxes, until nobody'll think it worth bothering to come at all.



» today's 25 photos; 214 photographs from the whole walk; slideshow
» map of the boundary of Tower Hamlets; map of my walk
» step on to section 10 »


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sat 24 - Sun 25 September
Southend Charabanc
Seaside pleasure trip with arty installations linked by bus.
Part of the ESTUARY Festival.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv