94 – Lea Valley loop from Waltham Abbey 7.3 miles – 3rd January

In short: early in the New Year – and everywhere very muddy underfoot, hence an easy towpath walk along the lovely Waltham Abbey section of the Lea Valley. Plentiful free parking and clean well-maintained public toilets; good café for lunch and coffee at the end. 2 hrs 35 mins walking + 40 mins pitstop.

We park at the large free car park at the Lea Valley White Water Rafting Centre in Waltham Abbey, postcode EN9 1AB and immediately make our way into the centre to make use of the very smart, clean, public toilet facilities.

From here we take the path out and cross over the canal at the bridge just on our left. We then cross the field ahead to exit at a gate onto the towpath of the lovely river Lea where we turn left.

We follow this path alongside the picturesque river, past the car park at Fishers Green and through the gate to continue on the same path.

We pass the bridge to the farms (currently closed for building works) and here move away from the river to follow the large waterbird filled lake on our left. At the top of the lake we continue straight on on a path that tracks a stream on our right until we reach a turn off left which we take.

This takes us straight across an open green space to a bridge over the canal. We cross here and decide to continue straight on to explore some paths we haven’t walked before.

We pass another lake on our left and join a path arriving from the right where we turn left and then very soon after right, before turning right again just before the railway line.

We now walk parallel to the railway line for a short while before the path bears right bringing us out beside yet another lake – and giving us a glimpse of a gorgeous little muntjac deer on our left.

At the far end of this lake we attempt to take a path that appears to run between this lake and the next, winding its way through to the canal, but after a couple of yards it proves way too muddy so we turn back and continue on the well surfaced path, heading north. This path soon bears right towards the lake edge then away again before joining a track running from left to right, where we turn right to pass yet another lake before meeting up with the canal towpath.

Here we turn right and walk straight along the towpath for a good couple of miles back to the White Water Centre where we started.

We go up to  the first floor and enjoy a freshly made sandwich and reasonable coffee at the well appointed café. All in all, very pleasant and a great way to shake off the post-Christmas blues.

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