In short: a fabulous walk on a hot day – hard well-surfaced paths – plenty of birdlife and two fabulous cafés. Public toilets at start, along Lea Valley towpath and at Wetlands information centre. 4hrs 30 mins walking + 30 & 40 mins pitstops.
We park on Spring Hill, Hackney – postcode E5 9BE – where on street parking is free and relatively plentiful at least on a midweek morning.
We walk downhill towards the canal with Springfield Park on our right and turn left onto the towpath. We follow this path northwards under a railway bridge and then a busy main road and onwards for at least a further mile to Stonebridge Lock.
Here we cross at the lock bridge and continue along the towpath with Tottenham Marshes now away over on the left bank.
We turn right at a bridge to enter Tottenham Marshes on our right and follow the path as it bears left and then crosses at a second bridge to bring us out beside the high bank of a reservoir behind a fence on our left.
On reaching a housing estate we turn sharp right and follow a path between the estate and a river, past some allotments and eventually to an entrance into Walthamstow Wetlands on our right. We enter here and turn left after crossing a bridge to walk with a reservoir on our left and then between two reservoirs on a slightly raised path, gradually approaching a road, Forest Road, ahead.
We turn right at the end of the reservoir and walk beside the road to the exit where we cross at a pedestrian crossing and re-enter the Wetlands at the car park on the far side of the road. We walk under the railway line to reach the Information Centre and café and decide to take a tour around the reservoirs on the south side before making our pitstop. And so we head left alongside the road, taking the path right in front of the next reservoir to walk between two – and then a third – reservoirs.
On reaching the end of this path – and these reservoirs – we turn sharp right and walk back up the main path towards the café. Here we stop and have a lovely scone and coffee, make use of the clean, well-maintained toilets before continuing on our way.
It was our intention to walk south out of the Wetlands and leave via the entrance onto Coppermill Lane but today this is closed due to some building work taking place on the Pumphouse building there. So we decide to head back through the car park, turn left onto Forest Road and then shortly after left again onto the Lea Valley towpath to head back along the path we took initially.
It’s on this section that we have an incredibly close encounter with a very bold heron – right beside us on the path!
Totally unfazed by us standing right beside him taking photos!!
As we reach Springfield Park again we cross at the bridge to walk along Coppermill Lane towards the back entrance of the Wetlands. Just after passing under an extremely low bridge – and before the Wetlands entrance – we turn right into a small car park on our right and take the path indicated straight ahead of us.
This is a surprisingly lovely path that takes us south, parallel to the canal, on the far side of the Walthamstow Marshes. We pass under the railway line and after a small enforced detour we go under an underpass at Leabridge Road.
The footpath veers left and then right around the edge of some filter beds and feeds us out onto Hackney Marshes. Here we decide to bear left and take the long way round the outskirts of the marshes before rejoining the Lea Valley towpath.
Here we turn left and continue on in the general direction of the Olympic Park. After passing under the busy A12 and within sight of some of the iconic buildings we decide that we have travelled far enough – particularly given the heat of the day – and so decide to turn around and head back along the towpath to our start at Springfield Park.
On arrival at the park we head uphill towards the café in the main building at the top of the hill where we enjoy a delicious cold drink and a freshly made sandwich with some well-earned salty crisps, sitting in the shade in the garden overlooking this fabulous park. Truly wonderful.