diamond geezer

 Thursday, April 30, 2015

Outer London Day Out (NE)

And finally, completing my tourist circuit of Outer London, I've reached the northeast corner of town. I'll not linger on Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets, as their inner reaches don't fit the geographical criteria, and I'll not be including attractions that offer only food, drink or shopping. But there are still plenty of places in more far flung boroughs that are well worth a sightseeing visit, and hopefully I've listed those below. Do add to my suggestions with choices of your own, be that today or at some point in the future, which I'll add later if I think they fit. And if you're ever at a loss for something to do, and the mainstream media are serving up yet another diet of central venues, simply click back here to April 2015 and take your pick from Outer London.

Walthamstow: Top of the heap in E17 is the William Morris Gallery (10am-5pm, closed Monday, Tuesday) [blogged], the great man's childhood home recently transformed into a well-appointed and award-winning museum. With more of an eye on the local borough, the Vestry House Museum (10am-5pm, closed Monday, Tuesday) sits at the heart of Walthamstow Village (which is itself worth a look). Nearer the Lea is the Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum (11am-4pm, Sundays only), very recently refurbished (and only just reopened) to display its crammed-in collection of transport and industrial ephemera.
Lea Bridge: A wealth of waterside wandering awaits down the Lea Valley between Walthamstow Marsh and Hackney Marshes. Tucked off Orient Way is the WaterWorks Centre & Middlesex Filter Beds (8am-7pm), a small visitor centre and wildlife reserve with hides for birdwatching.
Chingford: Although most of Epping Forest is over the border in Essex, a long thin tongue stretches all the way down through Highams Park and Whipps Cross to Wanstead Flats. Overlooking Chingford Plain is Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge (10am-5pm) [blogged], essentially a Tudor grandstand, beside a brand new visitor centre.

Ilford: The Redbridge Museum (10am-5pm, closed Sunday, Monday) [blogged] at the town's library is a modern, well-presented affair. But the main historic hub is nearer Gants Hill at Valentines Mansion (11am-3pm, Tuesday, Sunday) [blogged], a restored 17th century mansion set in gorgeous gardens.
Wanstead: All that's left of Wanstead House, one of the largest stately homes in southeast England, is part of its landscaped estate (now Wanstead Park) and The Temple (noon-5pm, weekends) [blogged] a garden feature that's now a visitor centre.
Fairlop/Hainault: Fairlop Waters Country Park is a large open space surrounding two lakes for sailing and angling, plus a golf course. Just up the road is Hainault Forest Country Park, with hillside trails, a boating lake and Foxburrow Farm/Zoo (9.30am-5pm).

Romford: In the heart of Romford is Havering Museum (£2.50, 11am-5pm, closed Monday, Tuesday) [blogged], while a mile up the road is Romford Greyhound Stadium (Mon free, Wed £4, Fri & Sat £7) for a night at the dogs.
Upminster: At the far end of the District line, Upminster Windmill (2-5pm, 2nd & 4th weekends, April-September) [blogged] is a 200 year old smock mill with regular open days. Meanwhile the Upminster Tithe Barn (2nd & 4th weekends, April-October) is officially called 'The Upminster Tithe Barn Museum of Nostalgia' and contains agricultural and domestic items.
Rainham: Rainham Hall (10am-5pm, from 1st August?) [blogged], a Queen Anne merchant's house overlooking the Thames marshes, reopens this summer after a thorough restoration. Take the London Loop to the waterside to see The Diver, a semi-submersible sculpture beside some dumped WW2 concrete barges.

Upney: Eastbury Manor House (£4, 10am-4pm Wed & Thu, plus Sunday afternoons) [blogged], a large Elizabethan landowner's house, has a wholly incongruous setting at the centre of an inter-war housing estate. It's one of the National Trust's hidden London treasures.
Becontree: The only surviving manor house in Dagenham, Valence House (10am-4pm, closed Sunday) [blogged] is now the borough's part-moated museum.

Stratford: London's newest park is a landscaped triumph, although long-term Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is essentially a backdrop to boost adjacent property prices. Walking its planted paths could easily take an afternoon. An ascent of the UK's tallest sculpture, the Orbit (£15, 10am-6pm) [blogged], is good value if you buy your annual pass online and use it to come back more than once. Or try your hand at road/track/BMX/mountain biking at the Lee Valley VeloPark (from £5).
Three Mills: Reputedly the largest tidal mill in the world, the 18th century House Mill is run by volunteers and offers fascinating guided tours (11am - 4pm, Sundays, May-October) [blogged].
Lower Lea Valley: Launching May 23rd, The Line will be a sculpture trail approximately down the meridian between Stratford and Greenwich, and will be free to visit (apart from the two bits where you have to spend £5 on public transport).
Royal Victoria: TfL's contribution to the Outer London tourist experience is the Dangleway (£4.50/£3.30, 7am-9pm) [blogged], London's first cablecar, which'll whisk you high above the Thames to enjoy views of Docklands, the O2 and various Silvertown recycling depots. Near the Royal Docks terminal is The Crystal (£8, 10am-5pm, closed Monday) [blogged], a futuristic sustainability exhibition, once free but now over-priced.

Canary Wharf: The Museum of London Docklands (10am-6pm), an outpost of the Museum of London, fills an old dockside warehouse to tell the story of the capital's maritime past.
Isle of Dogs: Head south beyond Canary Wharf to reach Mudchute Park [blogged], an unlikely 32-acre oasis with its own city farm (9am-5pm) that's free to toddle round.

HACKNEY (outer)
Stoke Newington: A cluster of points of interest hereabouts includes recently-refreshed Clissold Park, the Castle Climbing Centre inside an old Victorian pumping station, and Abney Park Cemetery, one of London's Magnificent Seven.

Highbury: Gooners (and probably only Gooners) will appreciate a self-guided Arsenal Stadium Tour (£20, 9.30am-5pm, not matchdays) which includes a trip to the bijou Arsenal Museum (£8, 10.30am-6pm) [blogged].

If you have any further thoughts on places you'd go out of your way to visit, please add them in the specific comments box. Strictly no food and drink, no shopping and nothing from Zone 1. And I'll add your best choices later.

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