10 reasons to love Lee Valley
PUBLISHED: 18:20 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:01 03 August 2017
Lee Valley Regional Park marks its 50th anniversary this year. It’s come a long way from gravel pits and scrap yards to beautiful landscapes and world-class sporting venues. We guide you along the river to some of the best things to do here this summer
1. Wild water experience
Experience the thrills of white water activities at the Olympic venue that saw Team GB win gold and silver in the Canoe Slalom in 2012. Try rafting, canoeing. kayaking or even hydrospeeding – a cross between a body board and a float which enables you to carve through the water. The Lee Valley White Water Centre is at Waltham Cross.
2. Carry on glamping
No need for lugging you’re tent (and realising you haven’t enough poles or pegs), instead glamp it up in one of the pre-pitched luxury tents at Dobbs Weir in Hoddesdon, one of the Lee Valley caravan parks. Book ahead and your tent will be ready on arrival complete with equipment – allowing you to start enjoying the facilities and the riverside without any hassles. The deluxe accomodation includes safari tents that sleep six, bell tents which sleep five, and for proper home comforts, Wigwam wooden cabins are double glazed with heating and electricity.
3. Wildlife haven
Get close to nature at the many lakes, woodlands and wildflower meadows in the Lee Valley. The reedbeds and open water attract many wildfowl including the elusive bittern, one of 200 bird species recorded in the area.
Amwell Nature Reserve is the top place to spot dragonflies in the county with a dragonfly trail from May to October.
There are more than 30 walking routes in the valley, including a sculpture trail, and as part of the 50th anniversary there’s a special Walk in the Park programme this summer.
4. Happiness is a warm dog
Those with four-legged friends can keep them fit (and the owners too) on a 500-metre dog agility course. Part of the Cheshunt Country Walk in Lee Valley Country Park, it’s free to use and incorporates 10 obstacles including jumps, hoops, high walks and an A-frame. There are challenges to suit both large and small dogs and the course can easily be combined with a longer route along the walk.
5. Golf without clubs
This version of the traditional game of golf can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities. A frisbee takes the place of the golf ball and the aim is to get it into a metal basket (the hole). As in golf, the aim of disc golf is to complete the course with the fewest shots. Discs and scorecards can be purchased at the Lee Valley Water Centre; alternatively you can use your own frisbee. The course is a short walk from the centre in the Cheshunt Marsh area of Lee Valley Country Park.
6. On your bike
You can enjoy the pleasure of traffic-free cycling as there are plenty of family friendly routes in the valley and bike hire is available at Broxbourne Old Mill and Meadows. For those who fancy a challenge, there are 27 miles of pathway, linked to Sustrans National Cycle Network. A good day’s cycling along the Lee Valley towpath will take you through Hertfordshire and Essex and down to East London, past the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
7. Anyone for a picnic?
The historic Rye House Gatehouse in the Hoddesdon end of the park provides the perfect backdrop for a picnic. The listed structure is all that’s left of the once grand medieval buildings here but you can still climb its winding stairs and admire its barley-twist chimney and the view over the river and your sandwich-munching party in the lovely gardens below.
Picnics can also be enjoyed at Broxbourne Old Mill and Meadows. Although it still carries the name, very little is left of the 16th century mill, whose predecessor was mentioned in the Domesday Book. The mill was sadly destroyed by fire but its wheel still turns most weekends, and the area is great for walks.
8. Orient yourself
Find your way around the countryside with a spot of orienteering. Perfect for families, small groups or individuals, the specially laid out 34 post course in Lee Country Park will have you map reading in no time. The course can be joined at any of the three locations listed below and maps can be purchased for £1.75.
Pindar Car Park, Windmill Lane, Cheshunt EN8 9AJ
Waltham Abbey Gardens, Abbey View, Waltham Abbey EN9 1XQ
Fishers Green car park, Stubbins Hall Lane, Waltham Abbey EN9 2EF
9. Messing about
Take time out with the slow pleasures of boating. Rentals at Lee Valley Boat Centre mean you can explore the river by rowboat or pedalo. Alternatively hire an electric boat or narrowboat from the Broxbourne centre for a cruise along the river or enjoy a meal aboard the Lady of the Lee Valley which departs from the centre and can be hired for special occasions.
10. Lee Valley summer diary
August 2, 1-3pm, Power of Plants: Family activities, crafts and games, Waltham Abbey Gardens
August 6, 10.30am-12.30pm, Walk in the Park: Family walk around the Old Mill and Meadows, Broxbourne
August 9, 1-3pm, Whodunit? Family orienteering competition: Navigate the course and uncover a mystery, Waltham Abbey Gardens
August 16, 1-3pm, Minibeast Mania: Discover the world of minibeasts, Waltham Abbey Gardens
August 31 & September 28, 1-2.30pm, Lee Valley Bug Club: Forest School outdoor activities for pre-schoolers, Waltham Abbey Gardens
September 9, from 7pm, Open Air Cinema: The Bodyguard: Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Cross
September 9, 10am-3pm, Autumn Wild Food Cookery Workshop: Lee Valley Almost Wild Campsite, Broxbourne
September 16-17 from 9am, British Slalom Open: Watch the event or try one of the have-a-go activities, Lee Valley White Water Centre, Waltham Cross
For more information on all these events and tickets, go to visitleevalley.org.uk/whatson