River Lea healthy walk : Tottenham Hale to Ponders End – led by Sally Geeve
We had a good turnout of twenty eight members for the first of the year Short Walks from Tottenham Hale to Ponders End along the Lea.Shaking off the Christmas lethargy, we walked the river path through sometimes semi-industrial, sometimes very rural, landscapes, taking in herons, cormorants and drifting swans – scenes so tranquil that we forgot we were in London until the giant IKEA sign loomed on the horizon and we realised we were quite close to the North Circular. The Ponders End Harvester was a welcome sight at the end of this wintery walk.
Luvvies Laughter and the Lido : a walk led by Oonagh Gay
On a freezing cold but bright day, with very blue skies, we set off from outside Hornsey Town Hall, up Crouch Hill to Cecile Park to see Kestrel House, originally Cecile House, that was the original home of Mountview Theatre School, not far from the former Hornsey School of Art. Then along to the former Park Chapel, now home to recording studios and the Mount Zion Cathedral. At Weston Park we heard about the Clock Tower erected in honour Henry Reader Williams, a local politician who did so much to preserve the green spaces from development in the area. We then sheltered on the steps of The Queens and heard of its history and saw the lovely stained glass for which it is famous. Further along Tottenham Lane we looked at the former Salvation Army Citadel, now The ArtHouse cinema and the YMCA opposite. Then to Park Road and Topsfield Road which featured in an early Madness video. We heard about Maynard (the pub and the road – now Park Road) and the history of Crouch End’s gentrification – and the coffee shop culture which started at Banners. Along the way I noted the many original cast iron street signs high on the buildings along The Broadway and Tottenham Lane as well as an interesting paving slab in Elmfield Avenue (see HHS newsletter 150 of March 2017 for the history of Aberdeen Adamant).
Clerkenwell : a walk led by Philip Messent
From Barbican tube to Farringdon, taking in gorgeous churches, the remains of a medieval abbey, an ancient hospital, the eponymous well, and a meat market! Yesterday Philip took the Shorter Walks Group on a wonderful historic tour of Clerkenwell which was like stepping into a Dickens novel & beyond. We had it all with a monastery, priory & nunnery; site where Braveheart was hung, drawn & quartered; prison known for its treadmill & harsh regime and one of the worst slums in London where drunken men & women ‘wallowed in filth’. Not for the faint hearted but we survived! Thanks Philip!
From Ware to Rye House … and beyond : a healthy winter river walk : led by Sally Geeve
Sally’s mission to get us fit and healthy is bearing fruit! Aided and abetted by a unprecedentedly warm and sunny late February day, a group of over thirty members of the Shorter Walks Group met at Tottenham Hale to take the train to Ware Station (flowering baskets courtesy of the Active Gardeners Group of Ware U3A!). In the town centre we soon found the River Lea towpath and turned south toward our first stop at Rye House. The highlight of this stretch was the Amwell Nature Reservewhere we stopped to take in the view of a lake (a former gravel pit) and bird hides, and one or two of our group engaged in conversation with a couple of serious bird watchers. At Rye House we stopped for an extended lunch break in the riverside beer garden of the Rye House public house. Before we moved on we observed a bevy of swans moving gracefully along the river and a motionless lone cormorant drying his wings in the mid-day sun. After lunch the group split, some taking the train back to Tottenham Hale, while the rest of the group (some of whom made a short detour to the historic Rye House gatehouse) switched waterways and made their way along the New River to Broxbourne Station to take the train back to North London.
Kew to Hammersmith : a walk led by John Wray
Another sunny day, another walk! Twenty walkers met at Kew Gardens Station for the lastest of John’s curated walks around London. Many were familiar with Kew Gardens and the nearby National Archives, but fewer had probably not previouly explored the surrounding vicinity. This is indeed a prosperous area of West London, judging by the residential streets along which we walked to the first landmark, the curiously elongated church of St Anne’s (clearly the work of many hands) on Kew Green. In the churchyard was a discretely placed health and safety notice, declaring that tombstones are dangerous. We crossed Kew Green, admiring more splendid houses along the way, before crossing traffic-laden Kew Bridge, and then headed east along the river to the former fishing village of Strand-on-the-Green. The tide was particularly low, and it was difficult to understand why so many of the riverfront properties had devised their own flood defences. Leaving the riverfront we made our way to Lord Burlington’s Grade I listed Chiswick House, the jewel-in-the-crown of English Palladian architecture. This was the half-way point and fortified taking refreshment (still in the sun!) at the the Chiswick Gardens cafe we resumed our walk past the church at Old Chiswick and back to the river along Chiswick Mall, where we marvelled at a series of magnificent magnolias in full bloom. This area is full of literary and artistic associations, judging by the numerous blue heritage plaques to be seen. The walked ended at William Morris’s Kelmscott House – here the group divided. Some could not longer resist visiting one the many riverside public houses and dived into the The Dove, while the others made their way to Hammersmith for the journey home before the rush hour began in earnest.
Crouch End to Kenwood : a healthy walk led by Deborah Levy
Covent Garden : a walk led by Philip Messent
Our Covent Garden walk began at the the Piazza, formerly home to the fruit and veg market, then to the peace of St Paul’s churchyard. Known as the Actors Church, inside are numerous commemorative plaques to those in the entertainment industry – old and more recent. Just inside the porch is a marble plaque to Thomas Arne, composer ofRule Britannia. Then on to Drury Lane where the theatre was clad in scaffolding and plastic for what looked like a major refurb. On the way Philip pointed out a Blue Plaque to Charles Dickens on a building from which he published his magazine All the Year Round, on Wellington Street. On the corner of Drury Lane there is a very elaborate restaurant, Sarastro, covered in greenery and with a living archway on the side. We passed Drury Lane Gardens, once a burial ground and some beautiful apartment buildings in Broad Court with shell porches. In Crown Court we saw the old Bow Street Magistrates Court, now being developed – probably as luxury apartments. Beside it was a lovely sculpture of a Young (ballet) Dancer. Across the road in Floral Street we saw the high level walkover joining the Opera House to the ballet school, then to Odham’s Walk – a very quiet 1979 GLC housing estate with interesting modern design elements. Nearby, a mural by London street artist Bambi, of Princess Diana as Mary Poppins, with a Harrods bag. In Monmouth Street a plaque to Beatles manager, Brian Epstein. By contrast in Central St Giles, office/apartment blocks in primary colours by architect Renzo Piano, designer of The Shard. Near St Giles Churchyard, high up on the side of an old wall was a lovely Ghost Sign of a Continental Garage, and then to Denmark Street with its shops selling musical instruments. We found the Phoenix Garden, now undergoing a major makeover so we could not go in. We made our way to Seven Dials where Philip pointed out the six sundials on the pillar! We explored the surrounding streets – Mercer Street, Conduit Court, Garrick Street, Bedford Street, Chandos Place, and Maiden Lane, each with its own point of interest, contributing to the history of this fascinating quarter of central London.
City of London Sculpture Trail : with Philip Messent
Once again the U3A Shorter Walks Group was lucky with the weather for a City of London sculpture trail on Monday starting at Liverpool Street Station. Along Alderman’s Walk, in the lovely grounds of St Botolph without Bishopgate we found the first piece, called Untitled! Nearby was a very moving WW1 There but Not There sculpture. At the corner of Wormwood Street and Bishopsgate, Pepper Rock. In nearby Bury Court was our next artwork – The Adventurer, looking like an animated advertising board. Next came Tracey Emin’s pink neon Your Lips Moved Across My Face. In Cunard place we saw a piece of an aircraft named UNIVRS. The next sculpture Climb stood in gardens next to Sir John Cass school. Then, outside Fenchurch Street Station Synapsid – a strange green and yellow sculpture. In Cullum Street was Perceval – a life-size bronze Clydesdale horse with his cart – and 2 very oversized marrows. Artworks in Leadenhall Market included a neon sign I’m Stayingand A Worldwide Web of Somewheres. Next, Stack Blues were a stack of blue blocks, then Numen – silver heads on artificial grass, Body, and Crocodylius Philodendrus was a pile of crocs, turtles, hogs and deer looking like a tree. and finally back at Wormwood Street we saw Bridging Home, London.
Line Sculpture Walk : led by Sally Geeve
Greenwich : a walk led by John Wray
A most enjoyable walk around Greenwich led by John Wray. First we viewed the Naval College from across the river, walked under the foot tunnel, through the market, up Groom Hill, through Greenwich Park and then back down to finish with welcome refreshment at The Trafalgar!
Parkland Walk, Woodberry Wetlands and Clissold Park : a walk led by Deborah Levy
Barnes Bridge to Putney : a walk led by John Wray
Ware to Hertford : a healthy walk led by Sally Geeve
Shorter Walks Group convener, Oonagh Gay, writes : “Lovely walk around Ware along Lea Navigation and New River paths with a common thrown in as well. We were expertly led by Sally Geeve and much taken by the lovely wool hangings in aid of dementia. An active Town Council and U3A in Ware”.
Women of the First World War : a walk led by Oonagh Gay
Anarchists and exiles in Fitzrovia : a walk led by Oonagh Gay
Thanks to Oonagh again for a most interesting walk around key sites of anarchist and exile activity from the 1890s up till and beyond WW1. A number of ordinary looking venues such as the Oxfam shop, cafe and pub have anarchist history and the cafe was HQ of the Autonomy Club. Britain attracted exiles as the authorities were hospitable to them, unlike their own countries, where they’d been persecuted. Nice chat in the Kaffeine cafe afterwards.
Discovering Hampstead : a walk led by Deborah Levy
“Thanks to Deborah for a lovely ‘short walk’ around the highways and byways of Hampstead and the ponds of the heath. Quite a few of us hadn’t seen some of these before eg the striking St John church and graveyard, where John Constable and family members are buried. Hampstead has the highest number of blue plaques in London and we passed quite a few today.” – Roslyn Byfield.
Canonbury and Newington Green : a walk led by Oonagh Gay
A walk around Canonbury and Newington Green led by Oonagh Gay, looking at the legacy of Mary Wollstonecraft, the origins of the New River and how Daniel Defoe tried to breed civet cats on the Green.
Kensington : a guided walk led by John Wray
The walk started and finished at Kensington High Street Station, was just over 2 miles long and took about 2 hours, taking in the parish church, two historic squares, Holland House and Park, where there is a café, as well as many attractive streets and houses in a rich variety of architectural styles.
Along the Regent’s Canal from The Angel to Limehouse : a healthy walk led by Sally Geeve
Members of the Shorter Walks Group took advantage of a fine Autumn day to follow the towpath of the Regent’s Canal from the Angel to Limehouse Basin, with a stop for lunch at Broadway Market.
Somers Town : a guided walk led by Oonagh Gay
A visit to St Pancras Churchyard as well as the innovative public housing built in the early 20th century, and the birthplace of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
Sculpture in the City : a walk led by Deborah Levy
Shorter Walks Group member Graham Bennett writes: “Fascinating short walk around Arcadia, well the City actually, on the excellent Sculpture trail led by Deborah Levy. A chill wind blew but hot coffee and some thought-provoking sculpture and stunning cityscapes stimulated.”