Southern England – River Lea, East London
Distance: 15km/9 miles
Type: Canal, river
Where: Linear riverside walk from Tottenham to the River Thames.
Start/End: Tottenham Hale tube station (TQ345895). Limehouse Basin and Docklands Light Railway station (TQ362811).
Terrain: Paved towpath and field edges.
Maps: OS Explorer 174 and 162; Landranger 177.
The Lee Valley is proof that wildlife and nature can flourish in what might seem the most unpromising of landscapes. Stepping out of Tottenham Hale tube station to begin this walk, you’d be forgiven for heading straight back down the escalator. But keep the faith: beneath the flyovers, traffic jams and retail parks lies a doughty waterway that has tenaciously withstood everything the growth of London has thrown at it. Even during the Great Plague of 1665, the ferrying of goods up and down the River Lea kept London from starvation. The river runs for 112km/70 miles or so from Bedfordshire to the Thames, and this walk follows most of those final miles. If the river were a fairytale character, it would be Cinderella, and this year the Lea finally gets to go to the ball, thanks to Olympic-related funding that has given it a facelift, with improvements to paths, signposts and nature reserves.
Click below to see a route profile and view the route on an Ordnance Survey map