Good things are sometimes there under your nose. As the famous graphito at Paddington Station used to say: “Far Away is Close at Hand”.  So it proved on the 2015 ORRA New Year Ramble: so unadventurous that it needed no bus train or tube for most of us to reach the starting point: the Regents Canal at the Rosemary Branch pub.
Nevertheless a goodly crew of roaders and off-roaders embarked on this excursion along the canal, the Cut and then up the River Lea to Tottenham.  Close to home, but a nice companionable way to start the new year, with more than 20 doing most of the walk, and some a bit more. Plus a baby, a first for one of these rambles.

To make our flesh creep the forecasters had promised heavy rain at 10am, and indeed it came down hard alongside Victoria Park. But for so short a time that we shrugged it off and within a minute or so the weather cleared and stayed dry and from time to time beautiful for the the rest of the outing. The cyclists were not too oppressive and slackened in frequency the further we went.

Plenty to look at as we walked: locks, houseboats, graphiti, Olympic remnants, new apartments blocks, the back of things, wildlife woodland planted by Tony and his assiduous Hackney Marsh preservation teams, swans’ bottoms upended while they fished for food, strenuous rowers on the Lea, and one or two sad sunken craft awaiting rescue.


There is something of another era about life on the canal: the light, the jumble of things collected by houseboat dwellers, the smoke issuing from stovepipes, the lack of cars: it is all reminiscent of the 1950s, when we were all poorer and more modest in our ambitions.

The Pub that Changed its Name..from Prince of Wales to Princess..had warned us that they could not handle a late lunch party so we were early and catered for..including puddings for the members of the pudding club. Billy was passed from hand to hand. A notice on the pipe across the river outside warned –poignantly–of the danger of “failing”.


After lunch it was only two miles to the obvious bailing out point, Tottenham Hale’s modernistic bus station, for a nice top of the bus return trip back home almost to the door. Close at hand maybe, but a nice way to start the year. And we failed miserably to get lost. Adventure can wait for the spring.


Words by Peter

Want to relive past walks? Find them in the Archive