Lea Valley 6: Three Mills to East India Dock
Adapted from TfL's Lea Valley Walk
Section start: Bromley-by-Bow.
Section finish: East India Dock.
Section distance: 2.1 miles (3.2 kilometres).
Section six starts at Bromley-by-Bow and finishes at East India Dock, a distance of 2.1 miles. Alternatively, you can continue on to Island Gardens. From Three Mills, you can choose to head along the Limehouse Cut to Limehouse Basin (on section five), or take this alternative route, along the Lea Valley Walk heading towards East India Dock.
Places of interest along this section are Bow Creek Ecology Park, East India Dock and Trinity Buoy Wharf. There is a cafe at Trinity Buoy Wharf. There are very few navigation signs along this section and it goes mostly through streets.
From Bromley-by-Bow station, go through the underpass and turn right (south). Continue along the road until reaching Twelvetrees Crescent, turn left here and head east to the bridge over the River Lee Navigation where this section starts. Limehouse Cut took three years to dig and was opened in 1770 to avoid the natural ox-bow bends and the tidal Bow Creek; the Cut now enters the Thames through the dock of Limehouse Basin (GTL00063). The Basin was dug in 1812 for the Regent's Canal, which carried the 'proverbial' coals from Newcastle and was only linked to the Limehouse Cut in 1864.
Continue east on Twelvetrees Crescent through an industrial area passing the ProLogis Park gate-house. At the Bromley-by-Bow gasworks (xxxxxxx) follow Twelvetrees Crescent round to the right, passing the former London Gas Museum on the left where the Meridian Line is crossed. Continue along Twelvetrees Crescent until you reach a roundabout — cross the roundabout and go ahead and through the Business Park gates where it becomes Cody Road. Walk to the end of Cody Road and then turn right on to Stephenson Street at Star Lane DLR station.
Continue straight on alongside the railway. Just before reaching the busy A13 dual carriageway turn right onto Bidder Street and then left into Wharfside Road to take the underpass. Once under the A13 turn right and head towards the blue footbridge. The O2 Arena (formerly the Millennium Dome) can be seen straight ahead. A wander round Bow Creek Ecology Park (ahead at the footbridge) is well worthwhile. Did you know? Bow Creek Ecology Park, once an ironworks and coal wharf, has won a Green Flag Award and is an educational nature park within a bend of the River Lea, designed around a series of created wetlands, including ponds, ditches and reedbeds. The park, which is managed by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, is open every day of the week.
Cross over the blue footbridge and bear left to continue the walk along the waterside.
A petrol station on the right marks the approach to a large roundabout. The river bends sharply away to the left beyond an advertising hoarding. Do not follow the path but take extreme care to cross the busy road of the Lower Lea Crossing at the traffic lights. Turn left once safely across and head down the slip road towards Orchard Place.
At the bottom of the slip road where you meet Orchard Place turn right and immediately on your right are the Salome Gates, designed by Sir Antony Caro. Head through the gates into East India Dock (GTL00033). East India Dock has a long and eventful history. The Honourable East India Company was given its charter by Queen Elizabeth in 1600 as a trading company and was the driving force behind the formation of the East India Dock Company in 1803. The East India Dock was the first of the London docks to close in 1967 and is now managed as a nature reserve by the Lee Valley Regional Park, where kingfishers and terns flourish amid the salt marsh flora, unique this close to central London.
As a diversion, to reach the confluence of Bow Creek with the Thames keep the Salome Gates on your right and continue along Orchard Place following the road down to Trinity Buoy Wharf. From here you get a great view of the Dome (The O2 Arena). Did you know? Trinity Buoy Wharf (GTL00053) is where the Bow Creek meets the Thames. In 1514 Henry VIII granted a charter to Trinity House, the body responsible for navigational aids around the coast. Michael Faraday developed electric lighting for lighthouses here. Today the former buoy factory is a centre for the arts.
Once through the Salome Gates walk ahead to the Basin and cross the footbridge over the lock gates and follow the path straight ahead, keeping the Thames to the left. The riverside path leads out of East India Dock Basin and continues in front of new housing at Virginia Quay, where there is a memorial to the first settlers who left for America in 1606.
The riverside path is interrupted shortly after; follow the tree-lined path round to the right to the end of the housing. Directly ahead is East India DLR station.
Either finish the walk at the station, or continue the walk up river, alongside the Thames, to the Isle of Dogs to Island Gardens and a classic view of Greenwich.
© GLIAS, 2021