Friday, 12 February 2016

Lea Valley Walk - Tottenham Locks to Waltham Abbey

At the beginning of January I walked the first section of the Lea Valley Walk, from Limehouse to Tottenham. A busy month at work meant that it was February before I could resume my walk.

I headed back to Tottenham Lock last Tuesday morning,

and headed north past a boatyard with what I think were two Thames barges.

I soon came to Stonebridge Lock, 

where I crossed to the opposite bank, and passed a genuine shipwreck (or should that be a boatwreck?)

I followed the path and the river across Tottenham Marshes and it was all feeling rather more countryside than London, when IKEA loomed in the distance.

 This was definitely London after all, and I passed a bus depot,

an industrial estate and the retail park, before passing under the North Circular and emerging by the London Waste EcoPark, a recycling facility.

According to my walk guide, there's a sewage works nearby too, and I could smell more than I could see of it as I headed on towards Pickett's Lock.

The lock itself has been renamed Alfie's Lock in Honour of the former lock-keeper. The Canal & Riverside Trust website says that this was a temporary change, for one month last summer, but the signs are still in place now in February.

The path now runs between the River Lee Navigation and the William Girling Reservoir, but sadly the reservoir is hidden by a huge embankment. The area opens up to a golf course on the left bank

and sheep on the embankment beside me made it all feel like countryside again.

Onwards I went, following that embankment all the way to Ponders End, where a handy signpost pointed out my progress so far and still to go.

When I set out from Tottenham, I hadn't been sure whether I could make it to Waltham Abbey, or whether I'd have to stop at Enfield Lock. So far, so good, and I began to think that I'd actually get all the way.

I passed Ponders End Lock, squashed between two road bridges,

and then a rather picturesque building, not mentioned in my guide, but I later found out that it's the back of a pub.

The next stretch was rather monotonous, with an unchanging view of the embankment (now screening King George's Reservoir) and the electricity pylons.

However I made good progress, and was soon approaching the winter moorings that run up to Enfield Lock.

I crossed the river just below the lock itself, and emerged into the middle of a pretty village, 

next to what I guess used to be the lock-keeper's cottage.

The houses of Government Row were built for workers at the nearby Royal Small Arms Factory. I'm not sure I'd like to live quite so close to the water, especially as my map shows another waterway running behind them.

Leaving Enfield Lock behind me, I reached Rammey Marsh

and the lock of the same name.

The "Kimberley" was in the lock as I passed and we kept pace with one another as far as the M25 before she pulled ahead.

I passed under the motorway, and the end of my walk was finally in sight. All day, I'd been following the River Lee Navigation, a canalised river that follows a similar course to the River Lea itself. The Lea had been over to my right, often on the far side of the various reservoirs that I'd passed, but finally the two run side-be-side here, with the Lea just the other side of the 'central reservation' in this photo.

I reached the main road in Waltham Abbey, and looked back at both waterways (Lea on the left, Lee on the right).

Then I crossed over to look at the next stretch, should I choose to continue...

I've completed the London part of the Lea Valley Walk now, but it does continue, ultimately arriving at the river's source in Leagrave near Luton. I'm fairly sure I won't go that far, but another section or two through the Hertfordshire countryside is tempting. 

I've used the train up until now, but the journey from home is obviously getting longer and longer. It took three trains and a tube to get back this time but I think that I will use the car in future. The railway follows the Lea Valley for the next 15 miles or so to its terminus at Hertford, so I can park the car, walk another section and then catch the train back to my start point.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful photos! Glad to hear you enjoyed your walk along the tow path and made it to Waltham Abbey. Shame you did not have time to explore the historic town only a few minutes from the lock. Perhaps another day?