19 – Lee Valley from Waltham Abbey, a variation 6 miles – 7th June

In short: simple, flat and relatively undemanding walk on a sultry morning – very rewarding in terms of views and wildlife spotting. Lovely halfway cafe; plentiful public toilets and easy parking. 2 hrs 20 mins walking + 30 min pitstop.

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This is such a beautiful and easy walk that a return visit to walk number 2 on this blog has been on the cards for a couple of weeks. This week we took advantage of a beautiful but slightly sultry morning to head out of town with our recuperating friend for a nice flat walk with a lovely midway pitstop.

We start this time from the car park at the Lee Valley White Water rafting centre, postcode EN9 1AB. During the summer months this centre is open 7 days a week and the car park is free to use for anyone wanting to access the Lee Valley park – there is masses of free parking and the added advantage of the great watersports centre with toilets and of course the cafe that we used last time.

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From the main building we bear left out of the entrance and skirt the edge of the pool on our right to the entrance path into the Lee Valley park which is well signposted. The path takes us left, away from the White Water centre and parallel to the canal which is just glimpsed through the bushes. We head up and onto the bridge ahead which crosses the canal here and brings us out onto a wide grassy area. We take the path straight ahead, passing a clump of bushes on our right and ignoring paths off to the right we head through some more bushes to the path along the riverbank where we turn left.

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Here we rejoin the route that we took in walk number 2 and walk along the river which is truly glorious this morning and positively teeming with ducklings, cygnets and their proud parents.

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We stay on this path for a good 15-20 minutes as it follows the riverbank – at one point a deer steps out almost right in front of us – but disappears too quickly for any of us to get a picture. We are all completely charmed! At the Fishers Green junction of paths we carry on ahead through the gate and continue to follow the riverbank. Here the path winds left and then right with the river to our right and a large lake to our left – it’s absolutely magical on this beautiful morning – so many birds and all in such gorgeous surroundings.

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We cross the river at the Bittern Information point and pass through a picnic area to a car park which we also cross and, passing to the right of the public toilet block, we follow the path to the Lee Valley farms – once again this is well signposted. We pass an open hide and after 5 minutes walking we reach a junction of paths where we turn right and shortly after enter the car park for the farms.

We cross the large car park heading to the main farm building and here make use of their large and extremely well appointed cafe with it’s outside deck and giant parasols. The scones here are definitely homemade – and we are easily tempted to add clotted cream to our jam – their deliciousness more than compensates for the lack of good coffee, after all a pot of tea is a delightful accompaniment anyway, isn’t it?

After a really pleasant pitstop we take the path back the way we came, across the car park to the footpath, left at the junction, across the next car park, picnic spot and bridge and find ourselves back at the Bittern Information point. Here we ring the changes from last time and turn right continuing along the path round the lake. This is a windy path – the lake is at times obscured by bushes but it’s nonetheless pretty with a smaller river to our right. After about 10 minutes we come to a junction of paths with signposts and take the path left signposted to Cheshunt and the YHA Young Mariners base.

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This path takes us quickly around the top of the lake and we soon find ourselves heading back south with the lake on our left and the canal now just discernible through the trees on our right. As we pass a larger piece of land jutting out into the lake we take a path off to our right through the bushes to the lock where we can cross the canal.

From here the path is a straightforward canal towpath walk back to the White Water rafting centre. As ever there is plenty of activity on the canal and this part of the walk is as much a joy as the more bucolic parallel path along the river.

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It’s hard to praise this walk too much – it pretty much has everything: beautiful views, wildlife, water and plentiful facilities – it may not be the most challenging walk in the area but it’s definitely one of my favourites.

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