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A waterside wander - about 3 miles round trip.
Tottenham Hale is an interchange station for trains that go to Stanstead and therefore is quite large with good facilities on the National Rail platforms adjoining the Tube. Note the splendid picture of the old ferry formed by tiles behind the seats on the Victoria Line platforms.

To get to the canal (the River Lee* Navigation), follow the Underground exit signs for Ferry Lane and go up steps or the slope to the road.   Walk left over the railway bridge. A large area, now called Hale Village,  is being developed adjacent to this.  In a few minutes you will see another bridge. From this you can access the water via a fairly steep slope.  Although this is manageable for those in charge of buggies, I  think it would present problems for wheelchair users*. 

The handsome sailing  barges moored just after Tottenham lock are reconstructions of the old wooden vessels that worked the River Lee Navigation in the days when one of the cargoes carried was gunpowder from the mills at Waltham Abbey to be used at Woolwich Arsenal. The idea is for the new barges to be‘floating business spaces’, a far cry from Lea Valley's industrial past. Continue along the towpath to find a variety of houseboats - it is fascinating to see how the folk who live in them have adapted patches of the waterside to make little gardens, and some sport mini-allotments in containers on their boats.   Several have small wind turbines and there are even a few solar panels around, though, judging from the wood stacked up on roofs,  many prefer to stick to traditional methods.

Incidentally, Pymmes Brook flows parallel to the river here. It runs in a concrete conduit,  part of a very necessary flood defence scheme designed to withstand a once-in- a-hundred-years event.

All this makes for an intriguing wander, which covers part of the Lea Valley Walk The tow path is lined with flourishing hedgerows and vegetation and there are plenty of birds and flowers to observe. I have to report that there are also electricity pylons around -  just try to think of them as leafless trees. On your journey you will notice a high grassy bank on the other side of the canal. This is Lockwood Reservoir where you may catch a glimpse of geese grazing, silhouetted against the sky. It is part of the Lea Valley Reservoir Chain which supplies water to London. A mile from Ferry Lane you will reach Stonebridge Lock where there is a Waterside Centre staffed by volunteers from the Friends of Tottenham Marshes (see link below for opening times).

Cross over to the other side of the Navigation via the narrow lock gates bridge and walk as far as a pretty green bridge over the old River Lea. Cross this and follow the path as it curves left away from the water through meadowland. Ignore the next bridge which leads to a housing estate, and walk to the left. Cross over yet another bridge to get back to the towpath. It is possible to reach the other side of the canal by turning right at this point and going over Chalk Bridge to Tottenham Marshes, but the tempting grassy track adjacent to the canal can be extremely wet in places and the alternative long gravel path is less attractive, having no shade/shelter.  However, if you are a birder, you may very well be interested in some of the events put on by the Friends of Tottenham Marshes (their events page includes a link to a bird-watching blog).  On a completely different tack, Tottenham Hotspur fans might like to know that their club started playing on one of the pitches laid out here in the nineteenth century. For many people, though, the numerous benches along the towpath itself, several surrounded by beautiful rambling roses in summer, will make the canal route the more appealing option. . .

*ACCESS NOTE:This trail is not really suitable for wheelchair users. Although there is another access to Stonebridge Lock via the path entered by an iron gate just before the Ferry Lane bridge, this way misses out a large chunk of the canal path.  As mentioned above, there is also a very steep slope to the lock bridge. Furthermore, the towpath is popular with cyclists, which could cause problems. Buggy pushers should also be aware of this.

*You may wonder which is the correct spelling, as Lee and Lea are both used. For the river itself, it does not matter, but the Navigation should be spelt ‘Lee’.

Photos (click on image to enlarge)

Ferry tile
First phase of development in Hale Village
'Renaissance Waltham' business barge
Houseboat with a turbine 
The old River Lea

Tottenham Hale is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above  to see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!

© DR