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A four season’s day down the Lea River, North East London


'Four Seasons' may be a slight exaggeration for our walk on Sunday March 20.  The weather forecast had grown increasingly glum over the week. On the morning of the walk, 25% chance of precipitation was expected - fortunately the latter was limited to a few raindrops as I left (nervously) London Bridge station on my way North for the walk.  The rest of the day was mostly cloudy and dull with a chill wind, interspersed with occasional bursts of intense, and very welcome, sunshine.   20 brave souls, including a first timer, met at a cold Waltham Cross station. Great interest was directed to a most pleasant young lad waiting beside us, though all hopes of a day spent in his company totally evaporated when he approached us enquiring if we were the Meetup Couchsurfer's walking group!  Couchsurfers indeed!!   I am sure he was as relieved as we were disappointed given our average age was probably 3X his own!  Mike Honcz and Paul Conway, on their first leads with the club, immediately lifted the mood and explained to us of what lay ahead as part of our 9 mile exploration of the Lea River and its sister, navigation system.  First stop, in brilliant sunshine, was the impressive Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence. A place of worship since the 7th century, the present building (pictured above), is an excellent example of Norman architecture dating from the 12th century.  Unfortunately the church was closed for a service but we wandered the extensive grounds and visited the reputed tomb of King Harold 11, who had prayed at the church on his journey to Hasting, where he met his death in 1066. Our time there was limited but mental note was made to definitely return for a more detailed visit, including the interesting village nearby. The rest of the day was spent, beside, crossing over, sitting, watching, and above all walking the towpath of the Lea River/Lee Navigation heading South. The area this time of year is probably not its best.  There are lots of factories and warehouses close by and electricty pylons above.  Most of this would be better concealed by the many trees beside the water when in leaf.  So, with the sun disapprearing again and the chill wind coming off the water, we buried ourselves in lots of good conversation within the group.  I have always been very impressed by the breadth of knowledge and interest amongst my fellow GOCs and how this adds to the great enjoyment of coming on these walks.  We got onto to absolutely every subject, from politics, to the art of crepe making, the latest London Theatre, organ concerts, the correct spelling for the river we were walking along - Lea or is it Lee, and does it change for the canal??? and while on spelling, the finding of the word 'masonary' on ol' King Harold's memorial stone at the Abbey kept several members going on and off all day, and finally, we even took a deviation to, and it certainly was a deviation, to the thoughts of setting up a Naturist subgroup within GOC.......let's move on!  We stoped for an enjoyable break for our sandwiches beside the canal, would you believe shared with the now formed Meetup Couchsurfer's group including, fortunately, our new found friend from the station!  The temperature dropped noticeably during lunch and the clouds looked menacing, so we got on at a pace to warm up, took a side trip through the Tottenham Marshes, and finally ended at Tottenham Hale ahead of time. Some left the group here, Carl decided he wanted to explore more, and the Swede was last seen heading further South, and 12 of us took to the warmth of the delightful Ferry Boat Inn for rehydration, and for a few, some excellent looking tucker.   Thanks for an excellent day Mike and Paul......perhaps lead us astray another day????




Some memories of the day:


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