102 – Lee Valley path from Edmonton to Walthamstow Wetlands 10.7 miles – 7th March

In short: an extension to walk number 87 to increase the mileage – but quite honestly not the most appealing stretch of canal walking. However the rest of the walk from Tottenham Marshes onwards is still delightful. Dry underfoot throughout though – not to be sniffed at!! Plenty of free car parking. Public toilets available at start, en route and at gorgeous café and information centre at the Wetlands. 3hrs 35 mins walking + 30 mins pitstop. 

We start by parking at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre in Edmonton, postcode N9 0AR where there is a large free car park (today – although one by one all Lee Valley car parks seem to be coming under the control of the slightly sinister ParkingEye company…watch out for not very well publicised charges and extortionate fines!)

We make use of the toilet facilities inside the athletics centre and decide to head towards the caravan park – thinking there must be a route through to the canal there. Unfortunately this turns out not to be the case and so we retrace our steps to the car park and exit through the barrier onto an access road which leads out onto Picketts Lock Lane where we turn left.

At the end of this lane we reach Picketts Lock itself where we cross the canal and turn right to follow the towpath south. Unfortunately this section – whilst the lock itself is quite pretty – has the dual ills of an ugly car park and industrial estate on the far side as well as the stink of a refuse processing plant.

Notwithstanding all the downsides we are charmed to spy a heron sitting watching us on the far side…

…after a short while he flies off and we continue on our way under the busy A406.

We continue on a really quite ugly stretch – past a more or less abandoned industrial estate on our left – until we reach the lovely Tottenham Marshes. Shortly after, we reach Stonebridge Lock where we cross and continue alongside the canal on the opposite bank.

This stretch is definitely more appealing – urban green space and narrow boats moored up – and we can enjoy our surroundings. After 15 minutes or so we reach Ferry Lane where we pass under the busy road to continue past housing and parks on our right and under a couple of railway bridges. On reaching the entrance to Springfield Park on our right we cross the canal at a footbridge and continue straight on along Coppermill Lane.

We pass a marina and Lee Valley Park land on our right, pass under another (very low) railway bridge and enter the Walthamstow Wetlands on our left.

We pass an attractive industrial building on our right and the banked edge of a major reservoir on our left, and then take a path off sharp right and then left to join a path between two reservoirs – with lovely views over two or three more as we walk.

On reaching the far end of this path we turn left to follow the edge of the reservoir on our left and a waterway on our right to reach the main Pumphouse building at the centre of the site. Here we stop and enjoy a fabulous bowl of soup and lovely coffee; make use of the public toilet facilities and then carry on our walk.

We leave under a bridge and past the main car park, cross Forest Road/Ferry Lane at the pedestrian crossing and re-enter the Wetlands. We take the path that runs between the nearest reservoir and the road, turning left to pick up a path that runs away from the road and between two large reservoirs.

This path is slightly raised up and gives glorious views across the wide expanse of water.

Indeed as we pass close to one of the islands we have a great view of all the cormorants parched in the trees:

We continue on to the end of the reservoir on our right and then cross a stream at a bridge and exit the Wetlands complex. At the entrance gate we turn left and walk along a path between the stream and some allotments on our right. At the far end of this path, after having passed a housing estate on our right, we take a path left – past the (still locked) gate into the Wetlands on our left and another reservoir on our right – this one hidden from view behind a bank.

We cross at a bridge – over two streams – and take a path bearing right through the marshes and back to our original towpath where we turn right. Unfortunately at this point we are more or less at the end of the attractive stretch and so we make quick work of the return path back to our start point.

Not the loveliest walk at the start and end but redeemed by the glorious urban oasis of the Walthamstow Wetlands and the lovely stretch of canal between Tottenham Marshes and Springfield Park. Still – 10 miles done and the training is well underway!

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