64 – Lovely Lea Valley views; Waltham Abbey to Broxbourne 8.7 miles – 17th May

In short: delightful walk even in foul weather – lovely views as promised and wildlife aplenty. Heavy rain at times and one very puddly section of towpath so well worth proper boots. Clean functional toilets in a couple of locations and decent midpoint stop off for a well deserved snack. 3hrs 20 mins walking + 20 mins pitstop.

As we have a little more time than usual this week we decide to explore a part of the Lee Valley Park we haven’t previously been to and so choose one of the walks from their website – this one is called Valley Views.

This walk starts from the car park of the Lee Valley Farms, postcode EN9 2EF – where there is plentiful free parking and also public toilets available for walkers!

After making use of the clean functional toilets we set off walking towards Holyfield Farm – up the track away from the main farm with it’s cafe and shop. Just before the farm we take the path waymarked as Lee Valley Pathway off to the right.

This lovely path takes us uphill passing meadows and wildflowers with lovely views all around.

At one point we approach the road, St Leonard’s Road, where we pass through a gate and just after a track off left we re-enter the path to continue our ascent.

The pathway takes us to the top of Clayton Hill where we enjoy the views…

…and as we descend we pass yet more wildflower meadows.

Unfortunately as we are approaching the bottom of the hill the rain really does start in earnest and we have to resort to full-on waterproofs – a great shame as the cap brim really does restrict the view. Nonetheless at the bottom of the hill where the ground levels out we spy a beautiful lake – the manky weather doesn’t do the photo any favours unfortunately!

Just beyond this is a lovely picnic area (for another day…!)

And even an attractive tree-lined path alongside the car park!

We follow the path past the car park, turning right onto an access road and shortly after arriving at Nazeing New Road where we turn left to cross at a pedestrian crossing.

We continue along the Lee Valley Pathway on the far side of the road along a lane and very soon find another lake to our left.

At the end of the lane we turn left just before a gate on our right, pass through some wooden gates and continue along the Lee Valley Pathway. Bearing right we pass another lake on our left side – this one for anglers and sailing.

After passing a particularly stinky refuse dump on our right we reach Meadgate Road where we turn left to pass a sailing club on our right and yet another – sailing – lake beyond it.

At the end of this short road we reach the canal (strictly – the River Lee Navigation) where we turn left onto the towpath. The rain is coming down pretty hard now and this stretch of towpath is very puddly – we are definitely glad of proper waterproof boots here. We pass the picturesque Carthagena Lock – with it’s small but colourful marina…

…and eventually reach a road bridge over the canal which we have to cross, then immediately cross another bridge over the railway line, turn right and head along the towpath of a little river spur, passing a small car park (and a glorious swan’s nest complete with eggs on our right) to arrive at the cafe at the Old Mill & Meadows.

Before sitting down to dry off and enjoy a brief pitstop we continue straight on past the cycle and canoe hire building to another car park with public toilets. After availing ourselves of the functional but clean facilities we return and enjoy a perfectly decent toasted teacake and coffee before continuing on our way.

Mercifully the rain has taken a break and so we don’t have to put our sodden waterproofs back on. Here also we decide to depart from the directions on the published walk as the towpath is really quite beguiling and we don’t particularly fancy the various proposed detours off right.

So we head south in intermittent sunshine, enjoying the mayflies, demoiselle flies (as we later identify them!), ducks with their lovely new ducklings…

…and geese with their goslings – together with their very strange protective behaviours!

Black-capped little gulls abound – indeed they swoop across the canal like dambusters and keep us royally entertained. We pass King’s Weir and Aqueduct Lock, shortly after which we cross the canal at a footbridge and then turn right at a T-junction of paths to walk alongside a stream on our left.

The paths winds prettily, we ignore a path off right to continue along the edge of Seventy Acres Lake on our right.

Just after passing a hide we come to a viewpoint platform over the lake on our right and a bridge off left.

We cross the bridge, pass the picnic area and cross the car park to the path heading to the Lee Valley Farms beyond the toilet block.

This path takes us past an open air hide, we turn right at a junction towards the farm car park and the end of our walk. The verdict? Really very enjoyable to get these alternative views of a familiar destination – must do it again on a nicer day!

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