The Lea Valley Walk
By Leigh Hatts
Guidebook to the Lea Valley Walk, a 53 mile path from Luton to the Thames. The walk traces the River Lea from Leagrave, near Luton to East India Dock opposite Greenwich where it joins the Thames Path. Features an alternative finish at Limehouse and an optional tour of the Olympic Park. Split into 9 stages, the walk is suitable for all abilities.
SeasonsThe Lea Valley walk can be done at any time of the year.
CentresLeagrave, Luton, Harpenden, Wheathampstead, Hatfield, Hertford, Ware, Broxbourne, Waltham Abbey, Hackney Marshes, east London, Greenwich
DifficultyNone, except general fitness for a mostly flat, low-level, multi-day walk.
Must SeeSurprisingly wild Bedfordshire, Waltham Abbey, the industrial landscape through east London, the Thames itself
This guidebook describes the Lea Valley Walk, a 53 mile long-distance path from Luton to the Thames. It follows the River Lea from its source near Leagrave to East India Dock opposite Greenwich, with an alternative finish at Limehouse and an optional tour of the Olympic Park. On the way it passes through a blend of quiet countryside, nature reserves and urban landscapes.
The Lea Valley Walk offers level, waymarked walking for all abilities. The complete trek is presented in nine stages, accompanied by clear OS mapping, with suggestions for three, four, five and six day itineraries. For those looking for an easy-to-access traffic-free day or half-day walk, the route is divided into sections with convenient railway stations close to each end.
This fine and varied walk traces the river as it passes through Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire towards the bustle of London. It takes in historical towns and villages, stately homes and castles, including Waltham Abbey and Hertford Castle, Luton Hoo, Brocket Park and Hatfield. Along with suggestions for refreshment stops and accommodation, the guidebook is packed with fascinating snippets of information about wildlife, landscape, history and industrial heritage, making it an ideal companion to exploring the river and its surroundings.
Lea Valley Walk
History of the valley
Up and down the valley
Backpacking the Walk
An almost flat walk
Using this guide
The Lea Valley Walk
Section 1 Leagrave to Luton Airport Parkway
Section 2 Luton Airport Parkway to Harpenden
Section 3 Harpenden to Hatfield
Section 4 Hatfield to Hertford
Section 5 Hertford to Broxbourne
Section 6 Broxbourne to Enfield Island
Section 7 Enfield Island to Tottenham Lock
Section 8 Tottenham Lock to Three Mills
Section 9 Three Mills to East India Dock
Section 9A Three Mills to Limehouse Basin
The Olympic Park
Day Walk Tour of the Olympic Park
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Itinerary planner
Appendix C Further information
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Stonehill Business Park, page 94
Leaside Cafe has closed due to riverside redevelopment.
Page 112, The gasworks bridge is often closed. We advise that all walkers take the alternative route 'up Three Mill Lane past Tesco' as described on page 112.
The route will appeal to walkers who are willing to sacrifice walking on natural surfaces (an estimated 70% is hard surfaces. either urban paths or tow paths) for town and village fascinating history, magnificent and quirky buildings, the residential canal communities and their wonderful narrow boat homes, a real feel as to how our waterways work, interact and greatly influence the local history and way of life, rich and diverse birdlife and lots of huge and small reservoirs.
There is a sense of a journey complete - from five small springs in some wasteland in north Luton to one of the Thames's most important tributaries at lime Basin Marina in London. Many iconic landmarks, seen from the route on nearing London, increased the excitement and sense of arrival.
Strider, the magazine of the Long-Distance Walkers Association
‘LONDON’S Lake District’ is a name that has been given to the Lea Valley Regional Park, one of the first of these designated areas. It stretches from Ware in Hertfordshire to the point on the River Thames in London at which the River Lea joins it after its journey from the village of Leagrave in Bedfordshire. The pleasurable sights to be enjoyed in this area of south-east England, much less well-known than its northern counterpart, can be more fully appreciated with the information provided by Leigh Hatts in this companion guide The Lea Valley Walk, the latest in the series produced by Cicerone Press, the specialist outdoor activity and exploration publishers.
Towpath Talk, Spring 2016
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Leigh Hatts has been walking the Thames towpath and exploring the river and Docklands since 1981, when he worked on the feasibility study that resulted in the decision to establish the route as a National Trail. He worked as a reporter with the walkers' magazine TGO and as arts correspondent of the Catholic Herald. He is co-founder of Bankside Press.View Articles and Books by Leigh Hatts