Sunday, 17 January 2016

Lea Valley Walk - Limehouse Basin to Tottenham Locks

Having laid out my walking plans for the year, I've realised that the Lea Valley Walk and the Capital Ring are going to take me around seventeen days, or one walk every three weeks, so I needed to get started.

I'm doing the Lea Valley Walk first, which (as the name suggests) mostly follows the River Lea. However the lower reaches of the Lea run through industrial estates without riverside access so the first part of my walk follows the Limehouse Cut (a canal) instead.

I started out from the Limehouse Lock, the entrance from the River Thames, 

headed around the Limehouse Basin

and started to follow the Limehouse Cut.

It looks fairly tranquil, but the Docklands Light Railway runs over the blue bridge and the A13 Commercial Road goes across the second bridge above.

However the traffic noise wasn't too intrusive, and I wandered along past various industrial buildings as far as the Blackwall Tunnel Approach, where a floating tow-path runs under the roads.

On the other side, the Limehouse Cut joins up with the River Lea and Bow Creek at Bow Locks. 

Beyond the locks, the path runs between the River Lea and Bow Creek, one on each side (a stretch that I walked previously when I did The Line last autumn) and runs up to Three Mills, a group of former water mills.

Wandering along, I crossed the river a couple of times as the path tried to decide which bank to follow. 

It settled down as we approached the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and I nipped up onto the Greenway to take another look at the Olympic Stadium 

and the Orbit.

Back to the path, and to Old Ford Lock, where the waterway splits. 

The River Lea itself runs through the Olympic Park, but the path follows the River Lee Navigation instead, a canal running along the perimeter of the park, and past the back of the Copper Box Arena.

I've also seen this stretch be referred to as the Hackney Navigation Canal or the Hackney Cut,

and it runs alongside Hackney Marshes, which seem to be more football pitch than marsh. I saw this sculpture near one of the bridges, but there's no information about it nearby.

The canal and river rejoin at Lea Bridge, and then I re-entered suburbia, albeit briefly.

This narrow boat, painted with what I believe to be 'dazzle camouflage' caught my eye, 

and it was nice to see another one actually using the waterway, only the third craft that I'd seen on the move.

Crossing over again, I followed the path between the river and Walthamstow Marshes, which appeared to be much wilder than Hackney Marshes had been.

Another bridge put me back on the west bank, and I passed Lee Valley Marina, with its maze of brightly coloured narrowboats,

and headed ever onwards, on rather puddley paths now, 

towards my destination of Tottenham Locks.

I'd walked about six miles, which is a little beyond my comfortable limit, and I still had a bit further to my station and two trains home.

Next time I'll be aiming to get to the edge of London; Waltham Cross lies just over the border in Hertfordshire and outside the M25, but it's seven miles from Tottenham. Luckily the railway runs parallel to the river so I'll have several options for bailing out early if required - Enfield Lock looks like a likely candidate. 

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