Thursday, 9 January 2014

Lea Valley Walk - part 1

So, with the fact that 2014 is going to be our "Year of Walking" in mind, we wrapped up warmly on Sunday and hopped into the car to head for the River Lea Navigation and a section of one of the walks we'd set our minds on. This is the Lea Valley Walk - an 18 mile stretch from beyond Waltham Abbey in the North, ending right in the heart of London's Docklands.

This is a relatively easy walk - being on the towpath it's level, and there are decent paths along most of it too - we'd decided that this first stretch would be done as a circular "out and back" walk - using the Navigation towpath through to the town of Waltham Abbey itself and then heading back north along Horsemill Stream, which runs nearly parallel to the Lea along this stretch.

we'd not been walking long when we found this odd looking structure on the opposite bank...

...not a good photo I'm afraid, the light was awful! Anyway, we were just debating what on earth it might have been when we came across a handily placed interpretation board (Don't you just love an interpretation board?) which explained that it was a Bofors Anti aircraft gun platform - a relic of World War Two, and probably placed here to defend the nearby Royal Gunpowder Mills at Waltham Abbey. It's now a protected structure, although clearly this hasn't stopped some folk deciding to leave their mark on it.

A little further on we passed a lock with a handily placed picnic bench - so stopped for tea. We'd sensibly taken our flask with us, and our mugs (those little flask cups are next to useless) and most welcome it was! Onwards then, and lots of these...

...Hazel catkins we think - we'll be making a note to return to this stretch of the bank in the autumn to see if there are any nuts to be found.  Then a little bit further on the path passed right by this...

There didn't seem to be any sign of anyone canoeing, or rafting, but the cafe seemed fairly busy - might have to go back there at some stage and investigate their tea and cake! Not much further on than that and we spotted our second lock - and the bridge carrying the A121 road over the waterways. we stopped to watch two boats making their way through the lock - MrEH and I have some experience of locks and he helped with the gates.

Tricky things, locks, especially when two boats go through at once, but these two navigated it smoothly and as we left they were just heading out of the other side.

And that was the end of the first stretch of the walk - just a short section this, MrEH had a streaming cold and didn't want to go too far, but this was enough to ease us into the walk and get us planning the next bit. Almost certainly a walk one way then get the train back on the next stretch - meaning we can cover more miles in the time we've got. Next on the agenda though is the first stretch of the Thames path, probably this weekend. We're really looking forward to getting this one underway!

For now though I'll leave you with this rather wonderful mosaic sign we saw on the way back...


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