Lea Valley Walk

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The trail through Wardown Park

The Lea Valley Walk is a long-distance path 50 miles long which runs almost the whole length of the River Lea, from its source at Leagrave near Luton in Bedfordshire, towards the River Thames, its final stretch being a diversion to the Limehouse Basin in Limehouse, Middlesex.

From its source much of the walk is rural. At Hertford the path follows the towpath of the River Lee Navigation, and it becomes increasingly urbanised as it approaches Middlesex.

The walk was opened in 1993 and is waymarked throughout using a swan logo.

Route

Stage 1 Leagrave – Hatfield (Beds and Herts)

Approx 20 miles
Signpost above Enfield Lock

The walk begins on Leagrave Common where the River Leas rises in a number of springs and ponds, and follows the new stream through the suburbs of Luton. Below Wardown Park the path joins enters the town centre, then close to the runways of Luton Airport, and soon entering Hertfordshire.

After crossing the A505 trail follows through open countryside, for some way using the track of the disused Luton, Dunstable and Welwyn Junction railway line, to Harpenden.

After Harpenden the path heads to nearby Wheathampstead, crossing the river here and following it to the grounds of Brocket Hall through the middle of a golf course and to Lemsford, passing under the A1 road to Stanborough Park.

Stage 2 Hatfield – Broxbourne (Herts)

Approx. 16 miles

The original path runs alongside the A414 road in the grounds of Home Park Hatfield, I several wooded sections hereabouts, though the path has been diverted due to access issues: it now follows roads through Welwyn Garden City to join the Cole Green Way, the disused Welwyn to Hertford railway line, at the edge of the town. A section of the route is shared with a link of the Hertfordshire Chain Walk approaching Hertford. Through Hertford town centre, past Hertford Castle, it follows Maidenhead Street and Bull Plain to rejoin the River Lea.

Below Hertford the Leas becomes canalised as the River Lee Navigation, and for the remainder of its length, the walk follows the towpath all the way to the Thames.

Dobbs Weir on the Lea Navigation

[Soon after Stanstead Lock the towpath passes under the A414 road towards Rye House (scene of the Rye House Plot) and RSPB Rye Meads nature reserve. Past the Hoddesdon to Nazeing road a stretch of the Old River Lea can be seen. The path carries on under the Broxbourne to Nazeing roadbridge, close to Broxbourne station.

Stage 3 Broxbourne - Lea Bridge Road (Walthamstow Marshes) (Herts & Middlesex)

Approx 13 miles
Waymark on the walk

The Crown public house is located adjacent to towpath, near a boat centre and Broxbourne Mill. Above Aqueduct Lock a channel from the river feeds into Kings Weir and a stretch of the Old River Lea can be found. On both sides of the river are mature flooded gravel workings. Near Cheshunt a glimpse of the Small River Lea can be seen. Waltham Cross (Hertfordshire) and Waltham Abbey (Essex) are close by, and the Royal Gunpowder Mills, now a museum.

The path enters Middlesex as it passes under the M25 motorway to Rammey Marsh Lock. A section of the Old River Lea flows through the former Royal Small Arms Factory now a housing development known as Enfield Island Village: the Victorian terraced houses on the east bank are former Small Arms factory workers' houses known as Government Row. Adjacent to the Rifles public house (now closed) is the Old River Lea and the Lea Valley Walk meets the London Loop another long distance path.

Looking south from Pickett's Lock

The grassed embankment of the King George V Reservoir is directly in front and is the first in the Lee Valley Reservoir Chain. Turkey Brook joins the Lee on the opposite bank. The far bank now comprises mainly industrial units. At Brimsdown Mossops Bridge connects to Mossops Creek and the Brimsdown Industrial Estate area. Above Ponders End lock opposite the towpath is the Navigation Inn, a former pumping station built in 1899. The inn offers moorings for passing boats, then under a road bridge the mill stream merges with the Lee on the far bank. To the east is the start of the William Girling Reservoir. The west bank opens up with views of the golf course– part of the Lee Valley Leisure Complex.

At Pickett's Lock the Pymmes Brook Trail can be joined, which leads through Middlesex to a long, intrusive salient of Hertfordshire. Following the towpath under the A406 North Circular Road, both sides of the river are industrialised. The river opens up with views of Banbury Reservoir to the East and Tottenham Marshes. Under a small footbridge known locally as Chalk Bridge. Walking towards Stonebridge Lock with Lockwood Reservoir to the east.

Walthamstow Marshes

Crossing the river here it is less than 1 mile to Tottenham Lock. Pymmes Brook joins the Lee here, with the High Maynard and Low Maynard reservoirs. The path passes under the London Overground Gospel Oak to Barking line and Lea Valley Lines railway bridges as the towpath skirts the West Warwick Reservoir further to the east are the East Warwick Reservoir and the Walthamstow Reservoirs. The Coppermill Stream joins the Lea close to the Lee Valley Marina. The path crosses the river at Horseshoe Bridge to the Walthamstow Marshes and Leyton Marshes as the path heads towards Lea Bridge Road, [Walthamstow]].

Stage 4 Lea Bridge Road (Walthamstow Marshes) - Limehouse Basin

Approx. 5 miles

The river splits at the Middlesex Filter Beds Weir where a section of the River Lea's natural channel flows in an easterly direction can be found. Still following the navigation which is known as the Hackney Cut at this point, the path passes the site of the redundant Pond Lane Flood Gates. The walk crosses a small footbridge to the east bank adjacent to Hackney Marshes. The Hertford Union Canal joins the river on the west bank before crossing Victoria Park.

The Navigation Inn at Ponders End
Three Mills - The Mill House

Heading towards Old Ford Lock the path links to the Capital Ring walk and then passing under The Greenway and the Docklands Light Railway close to Pudding Mill Lane station. Crossing to the opposite bank at Bow Road and crossing the river at Three Mills Bridge close to Three Mills. The walk continues under the District line and Hammersmith and City line close to Bromley-by-Bow underground station. The river forks at Bow Locks with the Lee Navigation joining the tidal section of the river known as the Bow Back Rivers through Bow Creek to its confluence with the Thames. The path however now follows the Limehouse Cut and passing the disused Bromley and Britannia Stop Locks to Limehouse Basin where the walk ends. Close by is the Thames Path.

Other users

The towpath section of the river is popular with cyclists, and much of it forms part of National Cycle Route 1.

Angling is available on much of the river.[1]

Outside links

Commons-logo.svg
("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Lea Valley Walk)

References