8 London Walks in 2019

This year I've been exploring even more of those enticing gaps on the A to Z and have notched up some lovely new walks, ranging from short strolls to longer adventures. Here are some of my favourites so far:

 1. River Lee Navigation 
North Circular to Tottenham Lock - 30 mins

We've walked the stretch of the Navigation south from The Princess of Wales pub in Clapton to Stratford many a time, but this time we decided to walk back from the Ikea in Tottenham along the more northerly stretch. Once you get past the horrors of the giant garbage incinerator next to the A406 and onto the canal, it's a beautiful walk taking you past the first set of Walthamstow Reservoirs and the wilds of the Tottenham Marshes. It takes about 30 minutes for this leg at a leisurely pace, but you can continue south for a longer walk.


2. Olympian Way
Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park to Waterview Drive - 20 mins

The riverbank behind the Dome and onwards up towards the Thames Barrier gives you stunning views of Canary Wharf at night, and apparently people even see seals on the riverbank here (I had to settle for cygnets). We also came across some curious pieces of art, which turned out to be part of The Line London Sculpture Trail, including the Here 24,859 sign marking the Meridian and showing the distance you'd have to walk around the earth to get back to this exact spot - it's a bit of a step up from the Proclaimers.



3. Hollow Ponds
Circular route starting at Whipps Cross Road - 30 mins

The Hollow Ponds sit at the edge of Epping Forest close to Whipps Cross Hospital south of Walthamstow and also contain a boating lake. The forest is ancient, once forming part of the larger Waltham Forest which gave the borough its name, and the walk around the foreshores of the interconnected ponds has a truly unique, serene atmosphere. There are secluded beaches along the way that make great spots to relax, and it's also a great place to snap some shots of the sunset over the water. Allow 30-45 minutes for a relaxed walk.



4. Ruislip Lido 
Ruislip tube to Ruislip Lido - 2 - 3 hours to see everything

It may take you uncomfortably close to Boris Johnson's constituency but if you can countenance the thought, a trip to Ruislip contains many weird and wonderful gems. First, you'll pass the medieval Manor Farm, a beautifully restored medieval manor house and buildings with traces of a motte-and-bailey. Next, follow the wooden boardwalks through Ruislip Common to a man-made beach at the edge of the lido, a favourite bathing spot in summer. There's also a cute mini railway around the lido that you can ride.


5. Leyton Jubilee Park
Markhouse Road to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park - 1 hour

A walk south of Walthamstow past Bakers Arms and along Lea Bridge Road will invite you to turn left down Seymour Road into Leyton Jubilee Park. The Park was renovated and expanded in 2012 to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the regeneration of the area for the Olympics, and the result is a beautiful set of interconnecting spaces including a recreation ground, wild fields on the site of historic lammas meadows, and a sports centre with - bizarrely - several large, well-used beach volley ball courts outside.


6. Peckham Rye
Rye Lane to Peckham Rye - 2 hours

Peckham Rye is full of unexpected gems despite the stressful hustle and bustle of the high street on a busy day. If you can stand visiting a hipster hive then pop into the Bussey Building complex just off the high street, which contains a range of studios, galleries and roof top bars that hold film screenings in summer. Continue on up to the Rye itself and you'll discover several beautiful secret gardens beyond the open common space including a Japanese water garden, the elaborately planted Sexby Garden and an American Garden.


7. Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge
Chingford Station to Connaught Water - 1.5 hours

Chingford is genteel Cockney squire territory (once home to Danny Dyer no less) and sits on the edge of the largest remaining expanse of Epping Forest. The incredibly preserved Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge (which is free to visit) was built by Henry VIII and renovated by Queen Elizabeth I, who was partial to a spot of deer hunting in the royal forest. If you fancied it, you could spend half a day strolling through the wilds up towards Epping itself, but for a shorter walk, Connaught Water is a short trot up from the lodge.


8. Dollis Valley Greenwalk 
Mill Hill East/Lullington Garth to Finchley Central - 1 hour

The Dollis Valley Greenwalk is an incredibly beautiful route through the green corridor surrounding the Dollis Brook, one of London's many ancient streams. You can follow it almost indefinitely starting at Welsh Harp and walking north to Woodside Park and beyond, but I visited the leg between Lullington Garth and Finchley Central with a 10 year old I mentor, and we had a lot of fun wading in the brook and exploring the leafy meanders. We also discovered a tyre swing over the stream, and let me tell you, trying to coax an excitable 10 year old off it was no mean feat.

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