diamond geezer

 Saturday, February 27, 2021

Marshes: A Walk for One
A narrated audio tour through London's Hackney Marshes

Head to the corner of Millfields Rd and Mandeville St in Lower Clapton and you might spot a plaque on the wall featuring a QR code and a blogspot URL. These link to a blog with just one post which is designed to tempt you on a half hour walk into unspecified surroundings. The plaque's on a brick wall opposite a bridge leading onto Hackney Marshes so it's fairly obvious where you'll be heading, but there's no map and no given endpoint, just an audio file to play which'll reveal all. I resisted the temptation to scan ahead for spoilers, turned up and pressed play.

It's soon clear this isn't going to be a walk about history or fact, more a journey into folklore and feelings. Before very long the female voice is urging you to close your eyes and focus on your breathing while she counts backwards from 20, which had me worried, but thankfully what follows avoids slipping into shallow mindfulness. I didn't close my eyes because this is 2021 and blocking the pavement is unwise, as was confirmed when two elderly shoppers and a man with a small dog attempted to walk by. The 242 bus interrupted the peace and quiet twice. After the count reached zero I was invited to consider my place amid my immediate surroundings, then the wider cosmos, and by the time the soundtrack reached five minutes I was itching to get away.

At long last I was told to make my way over to the footbridge and pause in the centre, looking down over the river and its "citizens of liminal space", as the increasingly flowery voiceover described the narrowboats below. If you have a psychogeographic Bingo Card handy you'll also be able to tick off palimpsest, edgelands and topography before the walk is through. But I also appreciated the commentary being carefully timed to roll out in real time, its encouragement to look and listen, and an increasing recognition of my own personal insignificance amid aeons of natural existence. I drew the line at stroking a block of wood.

Yesterday was a cracking day to be walking on the marshes, the sky cobalt blue and the buds of spring itching to emerge. It was busy too as local residents took advantage of their limited freedoms, but I bet none of them were following an audio trail laid down in 2014. I admired a pylon, watched out for rooks and tried to work out why I was being asked to listen to a folktale about a sperm whale on the high seas. A more relevant choice was to focus on the mythology of the fox as I followed a long path trapped between spiked railings. Occasional cobblestones signalled a lost industrial past. A single hawthorn tree blazed with white blossom.

There were problems ahead. The underpass beneath the Lea Bridge Road was flooded though both bores, as it so often is, so a diversion up and over was required. The blog's initial directions had anticipated this possibility, so full marks for forethought, but this distraction did totally break the walk's momentum. The last few minutes were spent admiring Leyton Marsh and the light in the sky, revisiting our friend the fox and contemplating my personal nodality. The commentary ends by offering a choice, either back into reality or onwards into the dreamlike wilderness. I chose to walk on across Walthamstow Marshes, which I absolutely hadn't been planning before this audiowalk nudged me, and I thank the author copiously for that.

Connections between Hackney Marshes and Walthamstow Marshes would be greatly enhanced if proposals for East London Waterworks Park go ahead. This recently-launched project aims to turn 14 acres of concrete into a 'brownfield rainforest', mirroring the success of the adjacent Middlesex Filter Beds and Waterworks Nature Reserve. This riverside compound alongside Lea Bridge Road was also once filter beds but was concreted over to become a Thames Water depot. Planning permission to turn it into two free schools rightly failed, so the intention now is for local people to buy the site and transform it into a biodiverse habitat for communal use. Stage 1 is a crowdfunder to get a feasibility study off the ground, and such is local interest that it's already 73% funded. That should pay for a team of experts to get involved and start to engage with the landowner, but it'll be years before any sale is successful, the concrete gets broken up and any wild swimming begins. You can read more about the project here, contribute here and watch a speeded-up walk around the perimeter here.

East London Waterworks Park is just one of ten proposed parks in the capital championed by CPRE London. These are exciting projects revitalising post-industrial backwaters which could contribute much to suburban recreation. Details of eight have been announced so far, and they're a great-looking bunch.

Greenwich – between Lee Green and Kidbrooke (a new River Quaggy Trail and Sports Park)
Enfield – adjacent to the new Meridian Water development (a new Banbury Reservoir Park)
Waltham Forest – Lea Bridge Road (a new East London Waterworks Park)
Sutton – Wandle Valley (delivery of the promised Beddington Farmlands Nature Reserve)
Lewisham – Buckthorne Cutting (a new Dandy Fifth Park)
Ealing – Warren Farm (a new Warren Farm Meadows Nature Reserve)
Lewisham – Grove Park (a new Railway Children Park)
Barking & Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge – (a new River Roding Park)

Again any potential realisation is years off but, especially the last one, bring it on.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
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 me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  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

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

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
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

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
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

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
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards