Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick to Startford and Bow - One Day Walk. Capital Ring Section 13 with additional section.
Source: Capital Ring web site - section 13 (with minor modifications).
I've added the Stratford / Bow / Limehouse Cut section.
Start: Stoke Newington Natinal Rail station.
End: Hackney Wick National Rail station or Bromley-by-Bow Tube Station or Limehouse DLR station.
Distance: 8 km. / 14 km.
Orientation: This easy section is dominated by the Lee Navigation waterway. The walk traces the expansion of Stoke Newington over the last 150 years before going into a nature reserve at Springfield Park. The rest of the route follows the River Lea as it winds its way towards the Thames. There’s plenty of history and wildlife to keep you interested on your walk. The terrain is almost entirely level with some short slopes. The walk is mainly on the towpath and is narrow and rough in some places. There are steps in Springfield Park (with an alternative, fairly steep, ramp route) and some of the canal footbridges have steep slopes.
There are pubs and cafés at Stoke Newington, Springfield Park, Lea Bridge Road and Hackney Wick, with public toilets at Springfield Park and Hackney Wick.
Start at the junction of Stamford Hill and Cazenove roads. Continue along Cazenove Road and follow the signs along Kyverdale Road and Filey Avenue until you get to Upper Clapton Road. Turn left and cross at the zebra crossing, then turn right and immediately left into Springfield. Keep ahead through the gate into Springfield Park:
There are great views of Walthamstow Marshes as you enter Springfield Park. To your left there is a café, toilets and an information point in the 19th century Springfield Mansion. Springfield Park, opened to the public in 1905, has been designated as London’s first Regionally Important Geological Site – RIGS – and is on the English Register of Parks and Gardens of Historic Interest. The Park landforms tell a fascinating story about the geological history of the Lea Valley. The name comes from the series of springs that arise in the area from the combination of sand, gravel and London clay. With the pond on the right, head down the Park and go down a short flight of steps to a wooded area. There is a bandstand over to the far left. Pass the tennis courts on the left and go towards the river, leaving the Park at a metal gate.
Turn left and then right over a pedestrian bridge over the River Lea. For centuries the River Lea formed the boundary between Essex and Middlesex. Now it forms the boundary between the boroughs of Hackney and Waltham Forest. Over that time the spelling of the river has caused problems as originally it was Ley, a field covered with grass. Acts of Parliament called it Lee although it appeared as Lea on many maps. There were disputes about the spelling for a long time and to settle them it was decided that the natural aspects of the river, such as river itself, would be LEA and manmade features such as the canal would be LEE. On the left as you cross the bridge is Springfield Marina, created in 1970 by excavating silt from a meander (a bend) in the old river course. It offers moorings and services for travelling narrowboats:
For the next 3 miles (4.8km) the route joins the Lea Valley Walk which follows the river for 50 miles (80km) from Luton to Island Gardens on the Isle of Dogs.
The path passes Walthamstow Marsh on the left with the river on the right. The marsh was a summer meadow, Lammas Land. The word Lammas comes from the mass of our Lady the Virgin Mary and in medieval farming practice from spring – from Lady Day (25th March) until late summer, the marsh vegetation was allowed to grow and was then cut for hay. After that until the next spring, local custom allowed cows and horses to be turned out to graze on the marsh. This system would have given a good quality winter fodder for livestock from the meadow flowers growing there.
Follow a sandy track under the railway arches with Walthamstow Marsh
Nature Reserve on your left. A plaque on the railway arches commemorates A V Roe’s first all-British powered flight in 1909. His ‘Yellow Terror’ tri-plane was built under these arches and flew an historic 900 feet across the Marsh. His inspiration for doing this had been the flight of the Wright brothers from Paris to London in 1903.
Continue on to the black ‘King’s Head’ footbridge on the right:
Cross the bridge and turn left at the end. Beyond the bridge, the weir to your left separates the flow of the old River Lea from the canalised section of the Lee Navigation.
From the park on the right there is a link to Clapton Station. To stay on the route, keep beside the river to pass under Lea Bridge Road.
Follow the towpath signage to Middlesex Filter Beds by crossing over the cobbled bridge by the weir keeper’s cottage. The Middlesex Filter Beds were built by East London Waterworks Company in 1852. They were built to remove impurities from the river Lea and thus provide an improved quality of water to East London. Along with the sister Filter Beds on the Essex side of the River Lea the site produced an average daily supply of 42.5 million gallons of water. The filter beds went out of use in 1969 and since 1988 have been managed as a wildlife reserve where there are more than 200 species of plants including cuckoo flower and purple loosestrife and birds such as reed warblers and greater spotted and green woodpeckers. Two artworks can also be found here: one, Nature’s Throne, is nicknamed ‘Ackney Enge’, Hackney’s own version of Stone Henge, made up of the granite blocks that formed the foundations of the engine house which housed the beam engine. The other, Rise and Shine Magic Fish, is the heads and tails of three giant ceramic fish that pop up out of a shallow pond.
Continue along the towpath to follow a section of the river known as the
Hackney Cut; a cut is a separate navigable section of a river.
Continue along the towpath between the River Lee Navigation and Hackney Marshes to a bridge that gives a good view of the Marshes to the left and Clapton Park to the right:
The Guinness Book of Records lists Hackney Marshes as having the largest collection of football pitches in the world – amazingly more than 80 - and the area is known as the home of English ‘Sunday Soccer’.
Continue along the towpath under Marshgate Bridge and alongside a
wooded area. On the left is a long avenue of mature London Plane trees;
beyond is Wick Woodland, planted in 1996 as a community project; you can enter from the towpath and enjoy a circular walk between a mix of native trees. Continue under the A102M motorway and the railway line to finally reach Carpenters Road Bridge. In case you are up to your strength limit - follow the signs to Hackney Wick Station. Otherwise, follow the Lee Navigation river - heading south to Stratford.
After crossing the railway line, continuing along the Lee river you leave Hackney and enter Stratford. On your way you cross the White Post lane with beautiful view of the houses on the Lee banks:
The White House on the Lee river on your way to Stratford:
Opposite the Carlton Cafe on the Lee:
You pass the Old Ford Lock. Old Ford Lock marks the start of the Hackney Cut – an artificial channel built in the 18th century to cut off a large loop in the natural channel. The natural river rejoins the Navigation at this point – below the lock, having travelled 2 miles (3.2 km) from the Middlesex Filter Beds Weir, just below Lea Bridge; and passing to the east of the Navigation:
Old Ford Lock - back of Stratford Olympic Stadium:
Now, to your left you can see clearly part of the Stadium and Aquatic Sports Centre in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park:
Here you can dine in a charming cafe/restaurant - the "View Tube" (light green building - inside the Greenway - inside the Olympic Village.
From the Greenway or from the View Tube Cafe head south along the Pudding Mill Lane. Cross the DLR line. Confusing walk from The main road past the road works and building of new station at Pudding Mill Lane. Behind the Container Cafe it changes its name to Marshgate Ln. Cross the Bow Back river and turn right to the A118/High St. Arriving to the Lee river, again, go down and turn LEFT, continuing along the river - heading to the 3 Mills Studio / 3 Mills Island (southward).
It is 15 minutes walk along 1 km path along the river - until you arrive to the 3 Mills Island, 3 Mills Studios and the the Clock Mill:
The Three Mills Island or Three Mills Green is a wonderful site. The architecture and location are unique – with cobblestone streets, oast house architecture, a clock tower and old brick buildings, one feels transported back in time to a place far away from East London. Part of the future-planned Lee River Park. Opening times: Three Mills Green is open 24 hours a day every day. House Mill - Open for tours, Sundays May to October 13:00 – 16:00. The House Mill is the world’s biggest tidal mill. You can join a guided tour only on Sundays, or at other times by appointment. There are also the Clock Mill, which is now part of 3 Mills Film Studio (home to London’s largest film studio) and the reconstructed Miller’s House:
From the Three Mills Green/Island it is 5 minutes walk to Bromley-on-Bow tube station: return west to the Three Mills Lane, walk (west) until its end and turn left. 2-3 minutes walk and you face the tube station.
If you are still in shape, do not take the Three Mills Ln: from the Three Mills Island, turn left (south) and walk along the Lee river until you arrive to the Limehouse Cut. The Lee river splits into: the right leg - the Limehouse Cut and the left leg - the Bow Creek. Take the Limehouse Cut path (South-West). It is a 30-40 minutes of pleasant walk until you arrive to the Limehouse Basin (5 minutes from the Limehouse Station):
Part of Limehouse Basin:
The area around Hsipaw is full of small valleys and hills, and is an ideal location for treks, hikes, and cycling excursions. Don't miss the panoramic view of Hsipaw town from the Nine Buddha hill.
A traditional ceremony in Hsipaw streets
Monks collect food
Although Mr. Charles offer organized tours with a guide, and although they told us you must have a guide to trek this area (the government established some regulations in the last decade) we decided to make an independent trek from Namshan back to Hsipaw.
Our new friend took us to his village, and we knew that we won't complete the distance we planned to walk. Well, that's the price of being spontaneous.
Our friends village was pretty small (very few houses), and it appeared that he owns some of the tea fields in his village area. He placed the other guy and myself at his house on the top empty floor, and the girls went to another house with his daughter and his grandchildren.
The family was extremely welcoming and friendly. They gave us longyis (the traditional skirt) and offered us food, tea and local home-made cigarettes (they have something local made of banana leafs).
They invited us go downstairs and sit with them for a dinner
Me and my new 'Longyi' during dinner
There are 3 trails running through the park - the gorge, the Southern Rim and Indian Trail. We took the gorge, which starts about a 100 meters from the entrance to the park. The trail is an uphill walk, but it’s a pretty easy walk, some stairs along the way. On the sides you can see the water flowing, the arch falls and more. The path is narrow, and we had to walk one after the other.
At the end of the climb there are some more stairs, but the sights are worthwhile. You can go all the way back on the same trail, or take the Indian trail, that leads you into the forest. The walk up took about an hour, and the walk down on the Indian trail took us 40 minutes. If you are tired, you can always take the shuttle down.
We loved Cordova. If you like hiking, you can easily spend a week in the town. The area surrounding it offers a wide verity of walking trails and paths thorough mesmerizing alpine scenery. The town itself is very attractive even for people with a little less zeal.
From our trekking experience I can recommend 2 worthwhile options:
1. Heney Ridge – This is a panoramic trail that starts in Cordova and takes you up 2,000 feet. The view of Cordova and the Cooper river delta is breathtaking, with waterfalls and slushes on the mountain side. The trail is 2 miles lone in each direction, and I would say it medium-hard. Most of the walk to the summit is, naturally, uphill, but it is really worth the climb.
2. Shariden Mountain trail – This was one of the best treks of our trip. The uphill walk isn’t easy, but the trail passes through a beautiful rain forest, by a gushing river channel and roaring waterfalls. Above the tree tops you’ll see an amazing alpine view, and the crown jam is the observation post overlooking the giant glaciers pool of the Shariden glacier, as well as Shariden itself and Sherman glacier. The trek is 4 miles long in each direction, and bear in mind it’s not an easy climb – so don’t try it unless you are a fit walker.
Crow Pass is an amazing trail, not very easy but worthwhile. You’ll see waterfalls along the way, a small turquoise pond at the top of the mountain where you can order a cabin to spend the night. While we were there the woods men were building another cabin. Virgin falls are another great place to visit, but it’s not easy to find them…
You shouldn’t miss out on this wonderful park. It’s a magical place, with lots of easy walking trails, passing along side small bays, surrounded by rocky hills and gorgeous mountain picks, as well as a seals reservation. You can see the seal on the high tides from Cape Caribou, and if you arrived on the low tide and missed them – don’t worry: you can also catch them on the bird reservation on Percé Rock, where they swim peacefully in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.
We visited Bic Park twice: once going up to Gaspe and once going down. The first time the tide was high, so we spent some time watching the seals. The second time the tide was low, and we took a nice stroll through the park. both times we had a great day.
Santa Cruz is the name of the peak which the trek encircles. It's located, like many treks in the regions, in the Huascarán national park. Right after you enter the park, even before the cashiers, you'll stop in a large lagoon named Llanganuco Lagoon. This is how it looks:
Afterwards, a steep climb starts, still in car, until the park entrance. The view is becoming more and more impressive as you climb higher, hinting forward, what's coming next in the trek. Another picture? You got it!
After paying the entrance fee, you continue with another short drive, and stop on a dirt road, from which an unpaved road is dropping us off at the beginning of the trail. It's possible that some of the tenants of the houses by which you pass will ask for passing fees of a few Sols. The guide usually pay them for all, or argue with them in order to avoid paying.
The first day of the trek isn't hard and includes a not too long walk in mostly flat and low terrain, that's very different from the rest of the views you'll encounter in the trek. The only ascent is in the beginning of the walk, where there are little houses and a small flowing creek, and it's going to be a bit hard if you haven't done any preparation tours prior to coming here.
Exactly at that stage a bunch of young kids no more than four years old approached us, and asked with eyes wide open for food. More or less demanded. The tour guide and one of us gave them some cookies. One minute after, my luck betrayed me, and my trousers were torn by a barb wire, which happen to be there. At the beginning it was only a hole in the ankle area, but by the end of the trip I didn't have a choice but to tear it up and make it into three quarter length pants. It got some shocked looks from Peruvians who didn't understand why the Gringo doesn't have normal clothes. A bit of a view:
Even on the first night you'll notice that your body adjusts itself to the nature, and an hour after you're done eating you'll fall asleep. The hour will be around 9 pm, and you'll sleep for 10 hours probably, up until there's enough light to keep on walking. On the first night we played truth or dare with the guides (one of them jumped into the river with just their underwear, beats me how they were able to keep functioning the day after). After we had a little bit of trouble falling asleep because of the cold, but in the following nights you get used to it.
The second day of the trek was probably the most challenging. The first part is a very steep ascent till the mountain passes, this is the peak height of the trek (4800 meters). On this day you ascend 1000m in height before you start the descent.
The view along the way is amazing - grey shades of rocks, greens of sparse vegetation, bits of purple flowers and in the distance white snow. If you get lucky - also blue sky.
At that point I needed a horse's assistance. My injured knee, as a result of the motocross bike accident was hurting really badly. The good thing, is that I had the advantage of giving our amazing horse a name, and they may have still call him by this name. Do please welcome Tupac, the last Inca:
Toward the mountain pass the view becomes arid but no less impressive. If you every heard the phrase "jagged mountain range" - this is it.
The final ascent looks impossible - you have to climb with your feet and hands from one rock to the other, and the end just refuses to come. Tupac couldn't help me here, cause it had hard time walking it alone. It seems my knee has never been soared like this before.
"TE PUEDES, you can, encouraged me Falco, one of the guides who knew exactly two words in English. I knew I didn't have a choice so I climbed.
The reaching to the peak moment is hard to describe. The climb makes the peak more beautiful, and the beauty, relief and pride makes all the pain go away.
It was probably one of the impressive views I seen in the entire continent, and I know that even 1000 pictures cannot demostrate all I've seen.
After a short break in the passage way, you start to descend to the green on the other side. The steep descent made my knees even more sore. At that stage I had lent Tupac to a friend who was afraid of heights. I got him back only when we reached the bottom of the valley shown in the last picture, and then I really learned how crazy it is to ride a horse.
The cold temperature below was horrible, as if the valley had drained all of the cold winds in the world. I barely managed to hold Tupac's reins, not to mention staying awake. Luckily, we stopped for camping just a little bit afterward. Until the real food was ready, our cook Orlando spoiled us with a lot of popcorn, and Tupac treated himself with a lot of grass.
After dinner the boys argued among themselves who would go to the river to fill the bottle we used for brushing our teeth. Brushing our teeth with freezing cold water was also unpleasant.
The third day was also very rewarding - it started by walking in the pleasant sun, but right away we started climbing, and the thin snow started falling on us. The climb gradually became steeper, although not as insanely steep as the previous day, and it brings you to the following wonderful thing:
This lagoon wasn't a mandatory part of the trek, because it required a detour. I forbid you from missing it. Have you gone mad? In the remainder of the day you'll notice you're moving from an alpine view which is something like this:
To a different view:
Night camping will soon come and afterward, you'll have three or four hours walk until you reach the end point in a populated place with a dirt road, where the view seems Mediterranean - green mountains, a bit of fields and houses and plenty of sun.
A few words in summary:
- If you walk a bit faster you can skip the third night. It's worth talking to the guides about, if you can stand it physically.
- Don't come to this trek without day tour preparation. Many people do the Laguna 69, which we kept for the end:
The preparation we had included a walk to the the hot springs in a town near Huaraz. The trip was nice, the springs were actually a spa compound with small baths and sinks pouring brown water which claimed to have some healing properties.
All the rest you'll find out yourselves. Huaraz is a very friendly town for travelers, although not the prettiest. When you order a trek, cliff, or ice climbing do it via a recommended company, and check which equipment is included and its quality. It's a heaven for treks, and here you can find all the good things for which you cam to South America. Well, at least most of it.
Day 14 – The Predjama Castle carved into the mountain
We drove to Postojna cave, and though I'd heard it was beautiful, I didn’t know how much. A sort of train cart leads you inside for 10 minutes through huge halls filled with stalactites, through a chilly route. After the halls I couldn’t figure out why people even proceed on foot, what else is there to see, but while walking you can spot different shapes and examine them from up close. It’s a 1.5 hour walk on a concrete trail, mostly downhill, but you do work your muscles, so don’t worry because it’s not easy. At the end you can see the river and only afterwards you exit with the train cart on a slightly different route from the one you came in on. The cave is amazing, huge and rich in rock formations. The entry fee is €20 per person.
The bus took us on a long and clouded road, as usual in Ecuador. When the clouds parted and the snowy peak of Cotopaxi was exposed, everyone went down to shoot it. The bus finally dropped us half way to the peak height, from there we climbed with no trails following the rest of the hikers, sinking in every step inside the gray dry volcano ash. I managed to cope with the breathing difficulties caused by a climb at this height, but here there was another challenge now - snow. The wind thrust it into our faces on the naked mountain, and it brutally stabbed us in the face. What a relief it was to get to the refugio. As easy as it seemed from below (3800m, piece of cake!) it was hard at least in the Santa Cruz pass.
Inside the refugio there was ski chalet atmosphere - many people were crowded around wooden tables, grabbing with their gloves and hot chocolate in plastic cups. The heat and the rest inside were addictive, but we couldn't forget we arrived here to see the glacier - the top of the ice cap of the mountain, which was in walking distance. We put our strength back to work and started walking. Unfortunately, the wind and snow hit us again and made us give up.
Descending was faster, of course, easier and quicker (after lunch in the refugio), and half of it we did on bikes - not a simple task in these steep slopes and in this weather. Riding later, on flat land, was fun and easy, mostly when the sun decides to show up.