101 – Lea Valley loop from the farms 9.4 miles – 21st February

In short: a more or less dry walk for yet another filthy day – when will this stupid wet weather ever end…? Easy walking – small hill at the beginning followed by a lot of towpaths (and a muddy detour due to footpath repairs). Large free car park, public toilets at start and at halfway point. Lovely friendly café at halfway point and at the farm at the end. 3 hrs 30 mins walking + 20 & 30 mins pitstops.

We start by parking at the large free car park at the Lee Valley farms, postcode EN9 2EF and make use of the public toilet facilities on site.

We then head off up the lane in the direction of the milking parlour part of the site – taking the footpath that runs alongside the road, and crossing just before the farm buildings to pick up the footpath off right after a pond and alongside a stream. This path bends left between fields and veers gradually towards the road.

As we approach the road we head gently uphill until eventually the path exits onto the road and we re-enter almost immediately to take a path heading right – and very soon slightly steeper uphill. We continue on this path as it zigzags uphill and then back down again towards a large lake.

After passing the lake we reach a small car park which we walk beside, turning right on the path at the end.

We continue on the path towards the road ahead which we cross at a pedestrian crossing and continue straight ahead past some houses and then a fishing lake over on our left. At this point on a grimly grey morning we are transported by the sight of a little muntjac deer leaping out of the hedgerow and across the path…and then back again. A delightful sight! (Far too quick for us amateur photographers though…!)

At the end of the lake we turn left, then right past a particularly smelly refuse dump and alongside yet another lake before reaching a road which runs between lakes – with a sailing club on the opposite side of the road. Here we turn left and continue straight ahead till we reach the canal towpath where we turn left.

This section of the towpath is the wettest and most puddly yet, but we are just able to pick our way around the puddles and through the worst of the mud – without slipping into the canal!

We pass the picturesque Carthagena Lock and continue on till we reach The Crown pub on our left where we cross at a road bridge and then at a footbridge, turn right and make use of the public toilet facilities at Old Mill and Meadows before enjoying a toasted teacake and hot milky coffee at the lovely friendly café there.

We then head off intending to walk directly along the towpath due South. However the footpath is closed for repairs – and the alternative route along nearby roads doesn’t really appeal – so we decide to bear right into the nearby water meadows following a grassy footpath. Inevitably this has it’s muddy sections but just about remains passable – albeit we have to bear right at a hedge line, through a gate and across a marshy section before arriving back at the towpath.

Now we can continue as intended – walking South in the direction of Cheshunt and Waltham Abbey. After a few minutes we arrive at King’s Weir on our left hand side and decide to cross at the nearby lock to take a closer look – in the (unfortunately vain) hope that we might see the otters that are supposed to live there.

After a brief look around from the bridge over the weir we return across the lock and continue on our way. We pass another lock, walk under a bridge and then after walking for about 15-20 minutes we cross at a footbridge across the canal, and then, continuing straight on, cross at a high footbridge over the lakes.

At the end of the bridge we pass a small car park and turn left through a gate to continue along our familiar winding path with the river on one side and lake on the other back to the farms.

We cross, right, at a footbridge to a picnic area, cross the Fishers Green car park and continue on the path to the farms – turning right eventually to return to our starting point.

Once here, we decide we are hungry and stop for a generous jacket potato lunch before making our way home. All in all a satisfying walk with lovely stops – plenty of views and peace and quiet but oh how lovely it would all be in the sunshine!!

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