Lea Valley Walk
The Lea Valley Walk is one of the finest and most varied walking routes around the capital, and an excellent way to get out of (and into) London. It offers 50 miles of traffic-free walking, tracing the route of the River Lea from its source at Leagrave near Luton and the Dunstable Downs to where it meets the Thames in east London. As it follows the river it undergoes a fascinating metamorphosis from urban trail to rural pathway. So whether you choose to walk for health, fresh air or views of wildlife and countryside, to visit friends, to explore heritage attractions, to escape or simply to explore your surroundings, the Lea Valley Walk offers it all.
About 26 miles of the route is within the Lea Valley Regional Park, from Ware in Hertfordshire to the Thames. The Park was established as Britain's first Regional Park by act of Parliament in 1967. The Park has become a unique blend of countryside, nature reserves, urban green spaces, heritage sites and sports facilities, and also embraces 1000 hectares of open water. the Waltham Abbey to Bow section has been awarded the London Forum kitemark, confirming its status as a fully accessible and comprehensively waymarked route. The River Lea is 98 km long and much of its last 43 km from Hertford to the Thames was canalised from 1767 by engineeer John Smeaton. Occasionally leaves the river to follow Smeaton's new channels, so there can be meandering stretches of the old River Lea flowing nearby. Most of the navigation falls within the Lea Valley Regional Park.
In the summer kingfishers can be seen at the at the source, in the park and even at Bow. Over 200 different bird species can be found within the boundaries of the Park, which is a major wintering area for birds, especially Bitterns. In Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire the Way is through fields with cattle and between paddocks. The Park's water meadows at Waltham Abbey are a dragonfly sanctuary.
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