Maybe it was just an innocent typo, but Andrew’s promise of a “sinning trip” was enough to tempt ten of us out for a trip to London.
So it was that Maurice, Andrew, Lawrence, Sandra, Tom, Yorkie Brian, Brummie Brian, Keith, Chris and Vernon met on a sunny Thursday morning at the White Water Centre, Waltham Abbey.
After a quick coffee, we set off down the Lee Valley, passing under the M25 and on through Enfield and Ponders End to Tottenham Hale, where we found a familiar figure lolling on a bench, his biked propped up nearby. It was Ken who had arrived by train and was looking to join his cycling buddies on the towpath. Now we were eleven.
There was lots to see along the way: wildlife – herons and assorted waterfowl – and all sorts of houseboats; everything from Thames barges to freefall lifeboats, serving as homes and workshops for wood carvers, tarot card readers and bike repair businesses.
At Stratford we took a diversion to view the Olympic Park and the London Stadium, home to West Ham United, before heading on to the Royal Docks where we stopped for coffee and cake at Caffé Fratelli. No scones here for Keith, alas, though he adapted to Italian pastries remarkably quickly.
Then it was on to the Emirates Skyline cable car which lofted us, three at a time, bikes and all, over the Thames to Greenwich. The view was magnificent.
Landing on the south bank, we headed westwards around the Dome, through the Old Royal Naval College and on past the Cutty Sark.
Given the warm weather, we needed little or no excuse to pop into the odd pub for refreshment; we particularly enjoyed the The Blacksmith’s Arms at Rotherhithe.
Back on the bikes, we headed for Tower Bridge where, briefly, we encountered the only heavy traffic of the day. Forming a sizeable peloton, we kept the taxis and trucks at bay and we were soon safely back on cycleways, heading eastwards on the north bank towards St Katherine Docks, where we pulled into The Dickens Inn for lunch.
Revived, we wound our way through the historic lanes of Wapping and Shadwell to Limehouse Basin where we joined first the Regent’s Canal and then the Hertford Union Canal, heading back towards the Lee Valley. From there it was steady going northwards, retracing our tracks for an hour or so and arriving back at Waltham Abbey around tea time.
It had been a superb outing; 44 miles in glorious sunshine. We owe a very big thank you to routemeister, Maurice who, supported by Andrew and Martin, had researched the route with a dry run two days earlier. We would be lost (literally) without him.