The trees on Millfields are what make this space special. The fields are surrounded by mature planes and elms – standing sentinel all around. These giants form a guard of honour on the north side running along both sides of the pathway.
A circle of plane trees on the south side creates an enclosed space that is cooler than anywhere else on the hottest days of summer. They are spaced evenly apart, telling us that they were planted by people long ago who had a vision for future generations who would come here long after they began to grow.
There are two interlopers in the middle, off centre so they appear not to be part of the original plan but nature had its way – two oak trees grew from tiny acorns.
Other trees that nature established include a group of three planes: the two outer trees reach back like dancers stretching away from the middle tree.
London plane trees have trunks that are are so smooth and round and solid that they invite us to touch them, these living benign monsters whose life span far exceeds that of humans.
The fields are split asunder by Lea Bridge Road, a major route leading across East London but the trees offer protection against the traffic and it is possible to move from the north fields to the south fields without crossing the road by heading down to the nearby canal and ducking under the Lea Bridge.
Other features have been added to enhance the enjoyment of Millfields.
Over at the north end of the fields there is a playground for children with giant logs to climb upon. Nearby there is a big patch of wildflowers – with corn flowers and poppies adding colour to the landscape.
And at the south end an orchard of fruit trees has been planted – including a white mulberry which is not a common sight anywhere in this country but seems to be thriving here.
Nearby a sign points to a public footpath. It is a long established right for anyone to walk along a public footpath and it is enshrined in law all over the rest of the country – but for some long forgotten reason, that legislation does not apply to inner London.
A boundary marker shows us the exact spot of the historic and legal divide and just a few yards across the other side of the river the full force of the law can be used to protect footpaths – a strange quirk that somehow remains to this day.
Walk from Springfield Park, Walthamstow Marshes or Middlesex Filter Beds or from Clapton Station