We were lucky enough to have a rare sunny afternoon for our outing to Woodberry Wetlands, walking along a very muddy New River Path from Finsbury Park to arrive at the East Reservoir, where we had tea at the Coal Hole, before proceeding to the West Reservoir and viewing the extraordinary castle pumping station, built by Mylne for the New River Company. We had the pleasure of a local expert, Nick Higham, who gave us really useful background to the creation and adaptation of the New River, and the successful 1980s campaign to save the reservoirs.
The Shorter Walks group enjoyed a fascinating walk around Spitalfields and Whitechapel, despite some threatening rain clouds on 29 January. Philip Messent showed us 17th century houses, a mosque which had previously been both a church and a synagogue, and a former Rowton Houses hostel, as well as enjoying a delightful tea in the Crypt of Hawksmoor’s Christ Church across the road from Spitalfields Market.
Other highlights of the walk included the Kindertransport Memorial Sculpture at Liverpool Street Station, Artillery Passage, Sandy’s Row, Tracey Emin’s former warehouse home, the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor in Brune Street, Spitalfields Market, Huguenot residences in Fournier Street, the Brick Lane Mosque, and Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel, and the Royal London Hospital.
Expertly led by qualified Clerkenwell and Islington guide Karen Lansdown, we were taken on a tour of central Islington, with some familiar sights and surprises. The theme of the walk was Islington’s relationship with water, beginning with the Regent’s Canal (tunnelled under Islington itself), the historical course of the New River (well-known, of course to residents of Hornsey). We went into the public spaces of Sadlers Wells Theatre, to inspect The Well (unfortunately not illuminated), admired the buildings and landscaped grounds of the former headquarters of the London Metropolitan Water Board, and shown a series of carvings on a perimeter wall in Myddelton Passage – by, it turns out, members of the Metropolitan Police! Our tour ended in Claremont Square, opposite the extensive reservoir, covered in the 1850s. We were indeed lucky that yet another watery feature, the rain, held off, and we left the Angel after 90 minutes of fascinating history and thinking of Charles Lamb’s friend who fell into the New River in the days when it ran in front of his house in Colebrooke Row.
The Shorter Walks Group enjoyed a lovely walk on 18 December through Queens Wood Shepherds Cot and Ally Pally Park taking in the Meadow Orchard project at the back of the Queenswood Medical Centre. Many thanks to Mike Gee of Greenacre Walks as guest leader.
Member Lesley Ramm writes: “About a dozen of us met in Priory Park to see where the Moselle runs under the basketball pitch near Middle Lane. Then we crossed High Street Hornsey to Moselle Close and then Penstock Path where the New River crosses the Moselle.
Again underground. After crossing Wood Green High Road we entered the Noel Park estate and Moselle Avenue. In Vincent Road we saw old brickwork of a bridge that the Moselle runs under.Then along Lordship Lane to Lordship Rec – where we saw the Moselle above ground! After a coffee break in The Hub we skirted the Broadwater Farm estate and crossed Lordship Lane and entered the Tower Gardens estate. We made our way to All Hallows Church and churchyard and into Tottenham Cemetery. We ended our walk in White Hart Lane and caught the W3 back to Hornsey. This two and a half hour walk was in lovely sunshine. I met people I have met on other U3A groups and some new ones as well. A lovely afternoon thanks to our new Crouch End & District U3A.”
We were very lucky with the weather, as we assembled at Finsbury Park to catch the train to Cheshunt. Sally led us along the canal towpath to a cafe just near Broxbourne station. The sun shone, the leaves were beautiful and we had some fascinating conversations.