Lovely Lea & Epping Forest Explorer
The route takes us along the River Lea Navigation as far as Waltham Abbey, where we will stop for a breather in the church grounds before heading into Epping Forest. Before that we shall stop for elevenses at the Springfield Marina café in Hackney. Lunch will be at the Kings Oak pub at High Beach, in the heart of Epping Forest.
Our path through the forest will be on roads shared with motor traffic, with a little roughish dirt track navigable by road bikes. There are a couple of steepish climbs on the route into the forest, but overall little in the way of hills. I do the ride on a 48:19 fixed-wheel, and my middle-agèd body has seen far better days.
One of the climbs, up Horseshoe Hill to Upshire, is rather steep in one short stretch, and involves a hairpin left bend at that point. Unless you are very fast climbing hills, it is best to dismount here and walk the bike around the bend, on the right-hand-side of the road. The bulk of the ride is along the River Lea towpath, and this is particularly lovely north of Tottenham Lock. On my solo rides up the Lea Valley I’ve had herons keep me company for a couple of minutes at a time, flying low over the water and wibbling away merrily to themselves, and possibly to me too.
Please ensure that your bikes are in working order, with tyres free of embedded debris that could cause punctures. Bring a spare inner tube or two, puncture repair materials, water and snacks, and lights. The total distance is around 70 kilometres, or 350 furlongs.