Geograph Blog ::

Looking ahead

By David Howard

I was delighted this week when it was as light at 5pm as it was at midday (OK, we all know it's really 1pm and 6pm, but this country has to be out of step with the rest of Europe), as after a couple of months hibernating and only able to do the odd trip south at weekends when there was little or no traffic slowing me down I could now start the first ventures beyond the main red blob on my map again. My Fuji compact, bought after the Olympus had finally stopped producing uncorrupted photos, had the added bonus of being able to take usable photos at night, so although I'd already replaced the Olympus with a Lumix bridge, it wasn't very good at night so only used it when I was somewhere anyway and took a chance a few would pass muster. That allowed me to venture along new roads at night as well as planned daytime excursions in better times, but no replacement for the real thing planning a route and getting it all done with time to spare.

TQ1777 : Market Place, Brentford by David Howard

So February kicked off with my trip east, following one the previous week for a road sign in South Tottenham, TQ3488 : Olinda Road, Stamford Hill by David Howard and found the traffic heading that way had improved since a few years ago when it became almost impossible to get through at any time of day. The simple reason for this was the river Lea divides what used to be Middlesex and Essex, and unlike the Thames only has a bridge every couple of miles or so, around five in total north of docklands where it originates plus a few near the mouth there. That funnels every single vehicle on either Lea Bridge Road (logical captain), Ferry Lane TQ3489 : Pedestrian crossing on Hale Road, Tottenham Hale by David Howard (a ferry today would be very useful as well as the bridge), The North Circular Road, TQ3392 : A406 Sterling Way, Edmonton by David Howard and the final before reaching Hertfordshire/Essex (it still forms the border), the impassable Southbury Road in Enfield, where I have on a number of occasions had to turn back, and now use the next one up, besides the M25 and Waltham Abbey, in Broxbourne the most TL3607 : Flats on High Road Broxbourne by David Howard as however far out it is there is no traffic getting there as a rule and just use it to go further north into Essex rather than faff around in what are really the London suburbs to the south served by the Central Line.

That gave me two options to kick off the new season heading east, as it has more green space due to the traffic issues, NE through Chingford and east through Walthamstow. Amazingly the traffic until West Green Road was fine, but made up for it there and although I made the right turn at Walthamstow where the green area began it was so busy from there onwards, mainly due to no road going anywhere in particular but winding at random, with junctions every few hundred yards with associated traffic lights, I ran out of steam at Leytonstone and headed north for the return leg rather than plough on east with the sun beginning to set. But I bagged nine new squares and proved it's still possible to head that way without a total gridlock. There is only a month now before it gets dark at 6pm, and have my 2014 photo list complete but happy if I just break one more distance record, as now I have to go 80 miles to do so, including another myriad. The first may be a pretty winding journey for a road sign discovered in November but on roads in Sussex without street lighting so not really a good idea to do them in the dark. Pre-Worboys signs have priority as they can vanish at any time while places are always there. I am checking the train timetables for journeys both north and south and will see if I can get where I want without more than one change at the most, and if so give that a go if possible. It takes longer to get to the terminals in the centre of London to get a fast train so have to use my local stations which of course aren't on the fast timetables very often and have to get off somewhere half way to pick up the train I would have got from the centre, but at least do not have to waste over an hour getting into Kings Cross or Victoria instead.

Otherwise I have graded my trips by distance, with routes in all directions depending how long I have to do them. Each year of course mops up a good deal, leaving fewer and fewer I can reach in less than an hour nowadays, with the time gradually increasing as I do each one. Unlike holidays these trips have to factor in a stop per mile on average for a new square, or I'd just have a few freckles on the map rather than lines, which I much prefer as you don't often go the same way twice to do them another time. Over the years I have learnt every traffic jam point for miles around and either avoid them or if I really have to go through them say a prayer and hope, like Bishops Stortford TL4821 : Office block on The Causeway, Bishops Stortford by David Howard which can be dreadful but opens up the whole of mid-Essex and Suffolk once you get beyond it. Hertford on the way is even worse, TL3313 : Roundabout on Ware Road by David Howard but again the alternatives barely exist. Going due south (besides when I find road signs there) cannot be extended as the coast begins 50 miles south so can't go any further, there's only the pointy bit of Kent in TR which has only just been scratched, TR0142 : Charter House, Ashford by David Howard but takes so long to get to (mainly since they charged to cross Waterloo Bridge and pick up the A2 or A20 beyond the Old Kent Road TQ3378 : Old Kent Road, Walworth by David Howard to whizz down towards Folkestone) I don't plan that again in a hurry. Finally my next plan is the Sunday one through SE London, the only day the roads there are passable, and intend to drive the entire length of the South Circular from Sheen to Woolwich, even beyond if it's still light.

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Fri, 14 Feb 2014 at 16:28
Grid Square
geotagged! TQ3987
Chosen Photo

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