Walking more of the ring

Since my previous post about the Capital Ring we’ve walked a couple more segments of it.

One was from Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick, on one of the coldest weekends of the winter.  This was the day that it came on to snow during the evening, and it had been even colder during the day.  And the walk took us across Hackney Marshes, a flat, windswept area, so it was really, bone-numbingly, cold.

Still, it was a great way to see part of London in a new way.  And, continuing one of the themes, about the importance of transport to the city, we found an unexpected transport connection.  There’s a viaduct carrying a railway line over the River Lee (or is it Lea? nobody seems quite able to agree) and across one of the arches.  One of the arches was used as a workshop, early in the 20th century, by Alliott Verdon Roe, an aviation pioneer and founder of Avro, the aircraft manufacturing company.  The marshes provided a suitable flat surface for testing the primitive planes that he built.

Verdon Roe sold the Avro business in the 1920s, and moved on to develop another business, Saunders Roe: today he’d be called a serial entrepreneur.  But the Avro name is still carried by aircraft serving London City Airport, just a few miles further around the Capital Ring.  And the bridge still has a connection with aviation, as it now carries trains between central London and  Stansted Airport.
Avro bridge
Section 13 is also remarkably varied in the townscape that it covers, though the greatest length is along the river.  Section 14 starts in Hackney Wick, in surroundings that can seem rather grungy and industrial, but runs past the Olympic site.  And much of this section, from Hackney Wick to Beckton, runs along the Greenway, a path built above one of the massive sewers that takes waste to the Thames estuary.  That includes the delightfully-named View Tube from where you can see the Olympic construction works, and pause at the excellent Container Café, which is exactly what its name suggests as it’s constructed within an old shipping container.  And it also includes the magnificent former Abbey Mills pumping station, built in a flambouyant Victorian style.  Judging from this report, the interior is even finer than the exterior that’s visible from the walk.

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