08 Jul 2023: Repeat of Lee Valley Park: legacies and Essex, 2014

Event led by Martin T.
Attendance: 14 people.
Distance: 9.65 miles (15.5 km).
Time: start 11:14, end 16:21, lunch and other breaks 54 minutes.
Speed: moving arithmetic average 2.18 mph (3.67 kph).
Terrain: pavement, road, farm track, woodland track, farmed field, grassland, towpath on footpath, bridleway, highway.
Elevation: low 17m, high 106m (as measured by GPS), start 24m.
Weather: overcast with sunny intervals, showers at lunchtime, 22°C to 27°C, max 7mph southerly wind.
Number of sewage works: 0.
Number of churches: 1.
Number of golf courses: 0.


This walk was a circular route of 9.65 miles from Cheshunt, around a series of lakes, then NE towards lunch, SW towards Waltham Abbey, then NNW back to the start point. The route took in a series of lakes and water meadows in the Lee Valley Park, before breaking into open countryside, up three hills, followed by a sudden downhill, catching a view of the London Thames Basin, returning to the Lee Valley Park, visiting Waltham Abbey Church and returning to the start point via the River Lee Navigation towpath.

The event report of 17 May 2014 describes much of the route.

On this 2023 instance, the route contained a few minor modifications, one of which was to visit both menhirs of the art work Travel & Discovery, by Paula Haughney, 1994, carved out of Dartmoor granite blocks formerly of London Bridge, demolished in 1968. The southern block is a projection of the planet earth, with the meridian line carved starkly into it. The northern block bears a symbol of humanity. The bases around both menhirs comprise supporting art works from local community groups. The northern block featured in the group shot for both 2023 and 2014 instances of this walk. Pictured in the group shot, 3 people joined both 2023 and 2014 instances of this walk. The photographer was the same in both instances of the walk.

At the lunch spot, the long-distance views northbound were short-lived. It was just about possible to see the army of electricity pylons marching off beyond the horizon, but we took shelter in the woods as the rain started.

After the lunch spot, we caught a middle-distance view eastbound of Epping, Warlies Park and Copthall.

The major view of the walk is the long-distance view of the Thames Basin. On this occasion, the view was at least visible, although not to the degree to make it spectacular. It was sufficiently awesome to reveal geography in action, i.e. we choose to live in a hole (the Thames Basin) for the water and shelter it provides. It was possible to make out northern edge of the basin’s southern ridge. Within the basin, some structures were visible: Canary Wharf, the City and the BT Tower. But the mist and lack of contrast made it impossible to see the Crystal Palace transmitter, the Wembley Arch and much of Alexandra Palace. This means we’ll have to repeat the walk in another nine years time, and hope for better weather.

The bridleway from the lunch point to the viewpoint is part of the buffer land of Epping Forest, owned by the Corporation of London. It appears on the Corporation’s map of the forest. This implies that the Corporation knows about the viewpoint and is set to preserve it, namely by keeping the grass at the viewpoint short and the trees thinned out.

A note about the elevation of the route, recorded by GPS. The elevation of Lee Valley Park ranged between 17m to 24m. By contrast, our route out of the park resulted in three peaks: 79m, 106m and 83m (with the Thames Basin viewpoint at 81m).

5 members joined the optional pub stop at the end of the walk.


Optional pub stop

Words by Martin Thornhill. Pictures by Peter O’Connor.

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