Like most of you I spent the whole of Spring inside my flat and I've started to go out again for the first time mid-June. I'm so excited to be able to go for walks again and enjoy the warm summer days outside!
One of my first walks was between Stratford and Walthamstow wetlands which is a protected nature reserve in Lee Valley, East London that I totally recommend if you're in the capital. A true gem that is considered as one of the largest wetland nature reserves in Europe. When you walk there, I swear, you completely forget that you are in London!
So I suggest you start this walk from Stratford's iconic ArcelorMittal – also known as the Orbit Tower, easier! - in Queen Elisabeth Park. The 114.5 meters sculpture was built when London hosted the Olympics Games in 2012. I was not a big fan of it at the beginning to be honest but it has really become part of the landscape in Stratford and it's now Britain's largest piece of public art, so hey!
Starting point: West Ham Stadium and the Orbit Tower
You will quickly get out of Queen Elisabeth Park to follow Lea River, going past Hackney Marshes with many cute boat houses along the way. The path along the canal is sometimes a bit busy – especially on the weekend - with a lot of walkers, joggers and cyclists but it never gets overwhelming.
Nice path along Lea River
There are also a few lovely pubs on the way. On a side note, I definitely recommend you to stop at CRATE Brewery in Hackney Wick to smash a pint and a pizza by the water on your way back! There is plenty of room all around to eat and drink away from the crowds. Anyway, let's not get too distracted by wood oven pizza, you still have quite a few miles to go until you finally reach Walthamstow Marshes.
With cows eating grass in the middle of this vast green space, you will suddenly feel like you are in the middle of the countryside.
Peaceful spot by one of the ten reservoirs in Walthamstow wetlands
Almost there! Less than a mile from the marshes you will reach Walthamstow wetlands and its ten reservoirs. The reserve attracts lot of fishermen and birdwatchers. For the record, those reservoirs were built by a private water company between 1853 and 1904. Later on, several of those reservoirs got damaged during the Blitz and nowadays they still provide water to London.
Some duckies showing off around the reservoirs
The walk around the reservoirs is great, I would definitely recommend you to take your time to see and enjoy all the wildlife, especially birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
The walk from Queen Elizabeth park is about 4.5 miles (roughly 7km) so it takes about 90 minutes to walk there.
Alternatively you can cycle, a very good option I reckon since you'd be able to cover more ground around the reservoirs. Either way, start early and it will make an amazing day or afternoon walk but be aware than the reserve closes at 17.00 during summer and 16.00 in the winter.
You can see the towers of Canary Wharf from a distance
For me this is definitely one the nicest walks in town that takes you through a variety of scenery and that only a few people know about.
What about you ? Have you been there? What's your favorite nature walk in London?
Cormorant Island in the middle of one of the reservoirs