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Lea Valley 1: Waltham Abbey to Ponders End

Adapted from TfL's Lea Valley Walk

Start: Towpath off A121 Station Road (Waltham Cross).
Finish: Wharf Road (Ponders End).
Distance: 3½ miles (5.5 kilometres).


The Lea Valley Walk begins at the River Lea Navigation, close to Waltham Town Lock (xxxxxxxxxxxxx) and Waltham Abbey, with the first section taking walkers down to Ponders End, a distance of three and a half miles.

Highlights before the start of the walk include Waltham Abbey, Cornmill Meadows and the Royal Gunpowder Mills and the Lee Valley White Water Centre. On the route itself walkers can also visit Rammey Marsh and Myddleton House.

The route is clearly marked and is one linear route running alongside the River Lea. There are plenty of opportunities along the route to take in a break with several picnic spots.

National Rail services operate from Ponders End station, or walkers can continue along to Tottenham Hale.


From Waltham Cross station turn right out of the station, up the steps and right onto Eleanor Cross Road. After half a mile — on your left — you pass the entrance to the new Lee Valley White Water Centre (built for the London 2012 Olympics). Continue on the main road and shortly after the traffic lights turn right onto the towpath which can be found just before Station Road becomes Highbridge Street.

To reach the town of Waltham Abbey continue along Highbridge Street. Here you can visit Waltham Abbey church (approximately 10 minutes walk away), Cornmill Meadows and the Royal Gunpowder Mills.

The Royal Gunpowder Mills (GTL00317) are set in 175 acres of parkland, containing 21 buildings of major historical importance. They were in operation for over 300 years producing not just gunpowder but explosives and propellants too. They are mentioned in H G Wells' fictional The War or the Worlds: 'Here there were rumours of Martians at Epping, and news of the destruction of Waltham Abbey Powdermills in a vain attempt to blow up one of the invaders'.

Walk south along the towpath, under the M25 motorway, passing Rammey Marsh on the right. During excavations at Rammey Marsh a Bronze Age riverbank has been discovered, along with animal bones and pottery from a nearby site.

You have the option to make a diversion to visit Gunpowder Park, located on your left (approximately 15 minutes walk). This was formerly a Royal Ordnance munitions testing facility and the land has now been transformed into a new country park.

The Royal Small Arms Factory, 12 Island Centre Way, Enfield, EN3 6GS (GTL00131)

At Enfield Lock (GTL00505) cross the road bridge below the lock to follow the towpath on the opposite bank.

Continue south along the towpath. The embankment on the left hides the massive King George V Reservoir (GTL00445). The George V Reservoir is one of 13 reservoirs that stretch for seven miles along the Lee Valley; they supply 10% of London's water and are an important habitat for wildlife, especially overwintering birds. NEW RIVER xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Just before the junction with Mossops Creek (on the right) is a footbridge to Brimsdown and a link to Brimsdown station.

Continue following the Navigation southwards towards Ponders End Lock (GTL01422), where, just after the next bridge you can finish this section and follow the signposts to Ponders End station, or continue on to the next section towards Tottenham Hale.

© GLIAS, 2021