Recreational Route: Eastern England/LondonLeagrave near Luton to East India Dock, London
80km/50 miles EASY
A walk that follows the River Lea (sometimes spelt Lee) from its source on the Icknield Way north of Luton, along country and town paths to Hertford and then southwards along the Lee Navigation deep into east London. A fascinating combination of field paths, towpaths, urban green walks through the rolling agricultural lands of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire and the wildlife-rich marshes forming islands of green among urban development. South of Ware the route runs within Lee Valley Regional Park.
The river Stort joins the Lee at Hoddesdon and continues to Bishops Stortford as a navigation with a walkable towpath. The Stort Valley Way is a 45km/28-mile circular route using sections of the Stort towpath through Sawbridgeworth and Harlow and rural paths through Matching and Epping Green.
Between Hertford and Enfield the route roughly parallels the New River Path. South of Enfield there are also good paths connecting the route with Epping Forest.
An alternative multi-user route, the Lee Valley Pathway, is slowly being developed through the Lee Valley Park: this generally runs roughly parallel to the existing path but to the east. Currently only a few sections are open, shown on park maps.
Between Stratford and Bow, two short circular Waterway Discovery Walks starting from Three Mills Island explore the Bow Back Rivers, an area rich in industrial history with a patchwork of green spaces criss-crossed by a complex system of waterways. The Heron Walk (1.5 hours) visits Old Ford Nature Reserve. The fully accessible Kingfisher Walk (1 hour) goes via Channelsea Wildlife Area along a section of the Greenway (Capital RING). Another Waterway Discover Walk explores the area around Enfield Lock.
The Lee Navigation is connected to the Grand Union Canal by two short links with walkable towpaths, the Hertford Union between Hackney Wick and Victoria Park and the Limehouse Cut between Bromley-by-Bow and the Thames at Limehouse Basin.