We had a good turnout for the last Newham Cyclists ride of 2016, despite the rainy weather. Taking the CS2 into to central London was a breeze and suddenly as we entered the City and St Paul’s we were surrounded by hundreds of young people dressed as Santa Claus, wasn’t he supposed to be an old, bearded man? Bemused we negotiated the West End traffic, both on the roads and pavement, well, there are not that many shopping days to go. Our aim was to see as many of the fancy street lightshows as we could. This included Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, Regent Street, New Bond Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square, where there appeared to be a Santa rally occurring, so we had a photos taken with a couple.
Our route then continued towards Covent Garden and Somerset House, where we descended to the Embankment to take the CS3 route home. The scorecard on this year’s lights still seems to be weighted in favour of Carnaby Street, although, on recommendation, we included Neal Street this year it was hard to reach a consensus (11/10 Bernard, 4/10 Bill). I suppose everyone has their own idea of Christmas
More photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rsstephenson/sets/72157675936870792
We all knew that this ride would not be dry, despite the weather forecast. The day started cold and cloudy as we met at the Viewtube base camp for the much previewed brewery ride. The idea for this ride came from and article in the London Cyclist magazine a few months before. They had suggested a tour of six taprooms and microbreweries in east London. However our own resident expert, Bill, had discovered that there were approximately 20 breweries in east London, some in pubs, some with taprooms and some without, and we could therefore improve on this small sample. Although it was ambitious to cover all twenty breweries, we decided to limit the stops to three, Howling Hops, I Mile End and Wild Card.
We set off at 12:15 and it was not long before we alighted on the first stop in Hackney Wick. After the first sample we left just as West Ham fans were arriving for the home match against Stoke. We crossed into Victoria Park where we found the first brewpub. Through the park and into Bethnal Green we were tempted to stop at Redchurch with it’s cosy bar, however we were on a schedule and so had to limit our trade to offsales. Down Cambridge Heath Road to 1 Mile End and stop number two. This gorgeous pub is located in Whitechapel, adjacent to the Blind Beggar and the old Watney Manns brewery, and we had a group photo with no bikes and no beer, strange.
Then back to the Bethnal Green Working Mans Club which houses the Three Sods brewery. Continuing north though the back streets to Hackney Central, where we found the Cock brewpub and identified two other breweries nearby. The tour relentlessly tracked north along the Lea towpath to the Beavertown brewery in Tottenham Hale. Despite a rather inauspicious location, on an industrial estate, and the near freezing temperatures the place was packed with people sitting both inside and outside eating and drinking. This beer must be good, they certainly have some excellent artwork. But, we had only one more stop and it wasn’t here, so we pressed on through Waltham Forest to another quite unique little industrial estate with two breweries, a gin house and God’s Own Junkyard, which is difficult to describe and impossible to classify. After supping the Wild Card we returned, utilising the superior mini Holland roads, to Stratford, where we had planned to end the ride at the only Newham brewery taproom, Tap East. However we were late and as we approached the Westfield centre, we could see crowds of WHU fans pouring through the streets around the station on their way home. So we tactically ended the ride on Victory Way
Thanks to Bill for his comprehensive research, more details are on the Newham Cyclists website and also to Robin, whose photos provide and excellent record of this unusual day out.
Confident of excellent weather for the third year running for this traditional October ride a select band set out from the View Tube for coffee and cake at the RSPB centre on Rainham Marsh. Â Having survive the industrial and post-industrial stretch from the Greenway atÂ Beckton to Rainham Village the marsh provided an excellent rideÂ including evocative views of the Thames:
Having refreshed ourselves we took a very short diversion to examine a newÂ Â gunpowder museum, shown in thee background of this photo
and headed back up through the Ingrebourne Valley country park to Upminster, taking in the Col de Ingrebourne Hill with its panoramic views of East London.
By the time we reached our destination there was a hint of light rain throughÂ theÂ sun, but nothing to compromise an enjoyable 26 mile runaround.
Eight of us met at Leytonstone station and rendezvous with three others, who had cycled from Walthamstow, at Epping. The weather started rather uncertainly but gradually improved throughout the ride and we enjoyed spinning through the lovely Essex countryside in the midsummer.
We faced the undulating terrain of Toot Hill before crossing the A414 and the quieter and flatter lanes beyond. Avoiding the flooded road we passed through Matching Green where Bill had to leave us. Onward we went up the stunning Sparrows Lane to the village of Hatfield Broad Oak, the most northerly point on the journey. We joined faster roads to Hatfield Heath and Sheering before diverting to Matching Tye and the Fox pub, our lunch stop, where they had some fascinating geese
After lunch we followed Faggotters lane through the ford to Magdalen Laver and the through North Weald back to Epping.
A great ride with few mechanical problems, I had my chain break and was rescued by Martyn having a magic link at the start of the ride. Bikes should be in good working order before coming on rides and I will endeavour to follow this advice in future. We had two punctures on the ride and Mick decided to walk back to the station after sustaining the second of these.
With Gravesend only 17 minutes by train from Stratford the Hoo peninsular was a convenient destination. Ten of us, with our bikes, took this train and met two more, Nick and Nigel, at Gravesend station.
The weather was cold but bright with a north easterly breeze providing a slight headwind as we set off towards the medway and the infamous Kingsnorth power station. We were soon out of Gravesend and riding through the bleak and open farmland which makes up much of the peninsular. As we passed Hoo St Werburgh the route provided us with some great views of the river Medway and Kingsnorth, the pretty village of Stoke gave us a convenient comfort break and we were then approaching Allhallows, the most easterly point of the ride. This was significant as the wind should have been behind us for the rest of the ride. In the 1930â€™s All Hallows was planned to be a major resort, to rival Southend, which can be seen across the Thames, but WW2 intervened and the Pilot pub and a large estate of mobile homes is all that remains of this dream. However the views from the beach were impressive as a huge container ship sailed up the estuary confirming that the river must be deep despite the tide being so far out.
We stopped for a good lunch at the Fenn Bell Inn in St Mary Hoo, where we had a group photo with the pet shark:
After lunch we had a couple of navigational challenges and went off piste before regaining our route and finding the delightful village of Cooling, with its fascinating church and castle. The 13th century church provided Dickens with the inspiration for the opening chapter of Great Expectations, where Pip meets the convict Magwitch, and more recently where Jools Holland married Christabel McEwan and they now live, happily ever after, in the castle.
Another detour saw the group split, although we both followed basically the same route. This led us along the Thames and Medway canal and alongside the Eurostar rail track and into the industrial side of Gravesend. Although a designated cycle route, we had to negotiate flood water, glass and fires to complete our intrepid adventure into this wild and desolate corner of Kent.
The group were reunited at Gravesend station for the short ride back to Stratford
If you are interested in the ride statistics here they are:
Forest Gate to Greensted Church Â Â Â Â 10th January 2016
We were 13 at Coffee7 at 9am on Sunday morning which was an excellent turnout for the first ride of the year.Â Â Perhaps the New year resolutions were applying some leverage. The weather was sunny and dry but after so much rain had fallen over the previous days the roads were still wet. The route followed suburban roads through Woodford, along the Roding Valley to Loughton and then out to Theydon Bois. We then found a few undulating and invigorating hills as we followed country lanes through Toot Hill to Greensted in the bright winter sunshine.
The church, claimed as the oldest wooden church in the world is charming, and includes the grave of a crusader and a lepers view hole. All these elements give the church a fantastic opportunity for imaginative stories about their origins and those visitors who were here long before us.
After restarting the ride we followed small lanes toward Navestock and Stapleford Abbots.Â Â The lunch stop was at the two Brewers Chigwell Row was a busy pub/restaurant, this meant lunch consisted more of a refreshment stop with a drink and a few crisps and nuts for most. It may be a good idea to let the lunch venue know of our arrival on future rides, if we can estimate the number of riders
On the way back we followed the newly emerging quiet way from Fairlop to Wanstead and finished the ride where we started, outside a coffee7 under a darkening sky.
We had a few punctures which slowed our pace, however the group was well equipped and we were easily able to fix them.
More photos (taken by Robin Stephenson) can be found onÂ Flickr
On the evening of Monday 7th December, Newham Cyclists toured the extravagant lighting displays of London’s West End. We met by the steps at St Pauls Cathedral before following a route that took in all the major shopping streets and some iconic London venues such as Trafalgar Square and Somerset House.
Bill joined us on Bond Street outside Burberry’s, had he been Christmas shopping? It was not clear, as he wasn’t saying. The route deviated from the plan and we took Regent Street instead of Piccadilly down to Piccadilly Circus. A minor route planning mistake by the ride leader caused a little confusion, but once regrouped we headed for the bright lights of Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square
The famous Norwegian Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square looked as if it had been exposed to strong winds as it seemed to have a natural tilt, and the horse skeleton with the stock market data stream on the fourth plinth required some interpretation. Carnaby Street lights were impressively gaudy and Covent Garden had an excellent tree, as did Somerset House.
There were some challenges as the roads were busy and there were lots of pedestrians, however the evening temperature was mild and and dry and there was no wind. We returned via Winterville in Victoria Park, but the bike parking was woefully inadequate so we did not go in and diverted to the People’s Pub on Victoria Park Road for deserved and festive refreshment.
More pictures, courtesy of Robin here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rsstephenson/albums/72157662020002231