Hackney Downs to Springfield Park: Exploring the Lea Valley Walk

Thanks for joining me as I discover another part of the great city of London! Today’s walk explores the East side of the capital, uncovering some of the lovely parks that it has to offer as well as a beautiful walk along a stretch of the River Lea. My walk begins at Hackney Downs, takes me via Clapton and Millfields Park, before a riverside stroll, and ending at Springfield Park.

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Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

My journey starts at Hackney Downs which is a former Lammas land dating back to the 1860s. Before then in the 18th century horse racing took place there, with cricket, football and rugby clubs also using the land.

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Hackney Downs

In 1872 The Metropolitan Board of Works acquired the Downs from the Lord of the Manor, Mr Tyssen Amherst, and through an Act of Parliament, it became a public open space. This was prompted due to local residents in the 1860s trying to enclose and conserve all of the 180 acres of land.

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Hackney Downs

It wasn’t until 1884 that the Downs were opened as a public park with paths laid out in it and trees planted within it. In 1965 it became the responsibility of Hackney Council, who took over the helm of managing it from the London County Council.

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Hackney Downs

Throughout the years the area has seen various facilities added including women’s toilets in 1908 (hard to believe there were only men’s there…), the Hackney Downs Lodge in 1959, an extension to the bowling green in 1960, as well as a playground and sports courts. The park had major works undertaken on it in 2010 with new tennis courts, a multi-use games area, a play area and various sports pitches added to it.

It does have that real park feel about it which makes it very different to other parks such as Hyde Park and Green Park with the sporting element within it. A perfect place to enjoy a peaceful lunch, or a run, or to walk your dog!

A walk past Hackney Downs Overground Station takes me to this cute little pond. Clapton Pond has existed since the 1600s, and re-landscaped in the late 1800s for public use. The Pond has been awarded the Green Flag Award which is given to the best green spaces in the country.

It’s quite a distinct feature of the town of Clapton and the surrounding area as amongst the shops, roads and houses, you find this picturesque pond placed in the middle of them. The pretty bridge going over the water reminds me of Claude Monet’s painting, ‘The Water Lily Pond’. Quite a contrast in scenery, but you get where I’m coming from with its shape…!

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Clapton Pond
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Clapton Pond
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Clapton Pond
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Clapton Pond

Through the houses of Clapton I come across another one of East London’s green areas, Millfields Park.

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Millfields Park
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Millfields Park

At the end of the park I join the River Lea! The Lea Valley Walk is 50 miles (80km) long between Leagrave, the source of the river near Luton, to the Limehouse Basin near Canary Wharf.

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Map of the Lea Valley Walk: Photo Credit: Cicerone
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Joining the Lea Valley Walk
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Joining the Lea Valley Walk

The walk which was opened in 1993 can be split into four stages: Leagrave to Hatfield; Hatfield to Broxbourne; Broxbourne to  Lea Bridge Road (Walthamstow Marshes) and Lea Bridge Road (Walthamstow Marshes) to the Limehouse Basin. Within the 50 mile stretch, 18 of these are within London’s boundaries, and pass through areas including Walthamstow, Tottenham Hale and Bow. I joined it at stages 3/4, however, one day I’d love to do the entire stretch!

The Lea (or Lee) marked the boundary between pre-Roman tribal territories, and later formed the frontier between Alfred The Great’s land, and the Danelaw. Recently it has become the transition between Middlesex and Essex, and still forms the boundary between Essex and Hertfordshire to the north.

I must say walking along this stretch of river is up there with my favourite walk on the Regent’s Canal, as it has the same beautiful features. Crisp, blue water as far as the eye can see. Pretty houses on the route. Wonderful reflections in the water. Plenty of canal boats. And an abundance of greenery, with the marshes in between the river and the towpath. It’s so peaceful walking through it, and I’m very jealous of the people who have the river as their window views!

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The Lea Valley Walk
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The Lea Valley Walk
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The Lea Valley Walk
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The Lea Valley Walk

I’ll now leave the Lea Valley Walk to visit my final destination today, Springfield Park! Occupying 14.73 hectares (36.4 acres) of green land, the park is located in Upper Clapton in the Borough of Hackney. In Georgian era Springfield House stood on the main entrance to the park and by the mid-Victorian period housing estates in the area were developed.

However, in 1902 the private estates and land in the area were sold off, with the park put up for auction. A group of local businessmen saved the park and eventually the London County Council took over the responsibility of it. In 1905 the park was opened to the public!

I’ve discovered many parks on my walks, and they all seem to have their own unique features and are all different in some way. Springfield Park has a really steep hill and incline, something not seen in many other areas in London, and with the backdrop of the River Lea behind it, it certainly is a perfect way to end a walk!

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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Behind Springfield Park

It has  been a wonderful walk exploring more of East London’s natural wonders and discovering the gems along the Lea Valley Walk! Hope you’ve enjoyed my walk, and please share your thoughts in the comments section below! You can catch me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too!

Until next time, have fun walking, and see you soon!

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2017

History of the Hackney Downs – London Gardens

History of Clapton Pond – Hackney

Map of the Lea Valley Walk – Cicerone

Information about the Lea Valley Walk – Londonist

History of Springfield Park – Destination Hackney

Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens: Discovering One of London’s Most Scenic Places

Hello there! Thanks for joining me on my next adventure across London! Today’s walk begins in one of London’s prettiest places, Holland Park. From there I take a trip through Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market, before ending at Meanwhile Gardens and its lovely riverside view!

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Holland Park to Meanwhile Gardens

My journey begins in affluent and fashionable Holland Park located in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

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Entrance to Holland Park

The park is 22 hectares (54 acres) and opened to the public in 1952. From a woodland to fountains to gardens, Holland Park has it all!

The park used to be part of Holland House, a Jacobean mansion which was built between 1605 and 1608 for Sir Walter Cope. It was named after its second owner, the Earl of Holland, and during the 19th Century it became a hub for political and literacy activity. Over the years the building was altered, but in 1940 it was gutted by a fire as a result of a bomb during World War 2. The houses last private owner was the 6th Earl of Ilchester, until in 1952 it was bought by the London County Council.

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Holland House
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Holland House
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Part of Holland House in the Distance

Within the park sits a statue of English politician Lord Holland which was erected in 1926, and was the work of Victorian painter-sculptor, G.F. Watts, with help from J.E. Boeham.

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Lord Holland Statue

A walk through the grounds you pass many lovely gardens.

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Holland Park Gardens
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Holland Park Gardens

A statue donated by ‘The Friends of Holland Park’ in 1986 also sits within the gardens.

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The Friends of Holland Park Statue

One of my favourite features within the park is this stunning water fountain! You can’t beat the sound of trickling water!

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Holland Park Gardens
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Water Fountain within Holland Park

When you go through Holland Park it’s like being in a fairytale story, with its magical gardens, trees and water fountains!

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Pretty Holland Park

Another one of Holland Park’s distinctive and amazing features is the Japanese Garden, Kyoto Garden which has been there since 1991. The garden was installed as part of the Japan Festival in 1991 which celebrated the centenary of the Japan Society in Britain. It was built by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and presented to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea as a gift to commemorate the long-lasting friendship between Great Britain and Japan. And when you walk through it, you feel in such as pleasant peace of mind.

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Kyoto Gardens
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Kyoto Gardens
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Kyoto Gardens
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Kyoto Gardens

One of the gardens many wonders is this incredible waterfall!

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Kyoto Gardens Waterfall
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Koi Carp in the Gardens Waters
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Kyoto Gardens
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Kyoto Gardens

After being in perhaps one of the most relaxing and therapeutic places in London, my walk takes me past the colorful and scenic houses of Notting Hill.

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Houses of Notting Hill
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Houses of Notting Hill

My next stop is Portobello Road Market which has been present in the area for nearly 300 years and is one of the world’s most iconic and famous markets. The name ‘Portobello’ derives from Porto Bello Farm which was built in the area. Also the name Porto Bello itself derives from the town of Porto Bello in Panama which had been captured by the British from the Spanish in 1739 as part of the War of Jenkins’ Ear.

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Portobello Road Market

During the 18th and 19th centuries Portobello Road was just a lane that connected Notting Hill and Kensal Green. With the neighbouring Paddington area being dedicated to residential developments, shops and markets began to spring up in Portobello to accommodate the residents.

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Portobello Road Market

With more residential developments occurring in Portobello Road, local working class residents found employment in the area as domestic servants, labourers and other unskilled jobs.

Up until the 1940s Portobello Road Market only sold food and other essentials, but more ‘rag and bone’ men began to sell items and other bric-a-bac and antiques. It’s now antiques that Portobello Road Market is best known for with Saturday’s being its main day of trading.

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Portobello Road Market

Despite the market suffering a lack of investment during the 20th Century, the late 1980s saw the market go under a significant amount of gentrification. From being a run-down and shabby working class area, it transformed to a more affluent, fashionable and desirable place to be and live in.

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Nowadays with it being a more wealthy area, in addition to second-hand goods, antiques, household essentials, and food, the younger residents have brought vintage clothing and a more cutting edge appeal to the market.

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Portobello Road Market

It’s time to continue my walk onto my final destination of Meanwhile Gardens, but on my way I came across this really cool collection of drawings!

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Fiona Hawthorne’s Artwork

This wall of art celebrates 150 years of Portobello & Golborne Markets and the installation was by artist Fiona Hawthorne. All the artwork was commissioned by the borough of Kensington & Chelsea and with the support of Instituto Espanol Vicente Canada Blanch, the art will remain public on the wall.

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Fiona Hawthorne’s Artwork

All the sketches from Fiona Hawthorne illustrate what life is like within the Portobello and Golborne area during July 2015 and capture the rare, dynamic energy of Portobello Market and Golborne Road. These wonderful pieces of art definitely encapsulates the stalls, traders, characters, and moments perfectly!

My final destination is Meanwhile Gardens which is a community garden near Ladbroke Grove established in 1976, with the Regent’s Canal floating beside it.

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Meanwhile Gardens

A walk outside the gardens takes you along the riverside and to this beautiful stretch of water! If you continue to walk you eventually end up at Little Venice, and from there you can enjoy one of my previous walks – Little Venice to Abbey Road!

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Regent’s Canal
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Regent’s Canal
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Regent’s Canal

Well it has been a truly lovely walk where I’ve seen perhaps one of the most picturesque and peaceful places that London has to offer in Holland Park. As well as other hotspots of Notting Hill and Portobello Road Market. Thanks for reading and I hope you had fun following my journey! You can catch me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too!

I’ll see you soon for another walk through London!

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2017

History of Holland Park – Parks and Gardens

History of Holland Park – British History Online

Information about Holland Park – TimeOut London

History of Portobello Road Market – Portobello Road Market

Information about Meanwhile Gardens – Garden Visit