Hackney Downs to Springfield Park: Exploring the Lea Valley Walk

Thanks for joining me as I discover another part of the great city of London! Today’s walk explores the East side of the capital, uncovering some of the lovely parks that it has to offer as well as a beautiful walk along a stretch of the River Lea. My walk begins at Hackney Downs, takes me via Clapton and Millfields Park, before a riverside stroll, and ending at Springfield Park.

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Hackney Downs to Springfield Park

My journey starts at Hackney Downs which is a former Lammas land dating back to the 1860s. Before then in the 18th century horse racing took place there, with cricket, football and rugby clubs also using the land.

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Hackney Downs

In 1872 The Metropolitan Board of Works acquired the Downs from the Lord of the Manor, Mr Tyssen Amherst, and through an Act of Parliament, it became a public open space. This was prompted due to local residents in the 1860s trying to enclose and conserve all of the 180 acres of land.

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Hackney Downs

It wasn’t until 1884 that the Downs were opened as a public park with paths laid out in it and trees planted within it. In 1965 it became the responsibility of Hackney Council, who took over the helm of managing it from the London County Council.

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Hackney Downs

Throughout the years the area has seen various facilities added including women’s toilets in 1908 (hard to believe there were only men’s there…), the Hackney Downs Lodge in 1959, an extension to the bowling green in 1960, as well as a playground and sports courts. The park had major works undertaken on it in 2010 with new tennis courts, a multi-use games area, a play area and various sports pitches added to it.

It does have that real park feel about it which makes it very different to other parks such as Hyde Park and Green Park with the sporting element within it. A perfect place to enjoy a peaceful lunch, or a run, or to walk your dog!

A walk past Hackney Downs Overground Station takes me to this cute little pond. Clapton Pond has existed since the 1600s, and re-landscaped in the late 1800s for public use. The Pond has been awarded the Green Flag Award which is given to the best green spaces in the country.

It’s quite a distinct feature of the town of Clapton and the surrounding area as amongst the shops, roads and houses, you find this picturesque pond placed in the middle of them. The pretty bridge going over the water reminds me of Claude Monet’s painting, ‘The Water Lily Pond’. Quite a contrast in scenery, but you get where I’m coming from with its shape…!

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Clapton Pond
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Clapton Pond
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Clapton Pond
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Clapton Pond

Through the houses of Clapton I come across another one of East London’s green areas, Millfields Park.

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Millfields Park
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Millfields Park

At the end of the park I join the River Lea! The Lea Valley Walk is 50 miles (80km) long between Leagrave, the source of the river near Luton, to the Limehouse Basin near Canary Wharf.

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Map of the Lea Valley Walk: Photo Credit: Cicerone
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Joining the Lea Valley Walk
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Joining the Lea Valley Walk

The walk which was opened in 1993 can be split into four stages: Leagrave to Hatfield; Hatfield to Broxbourne; Broxbourne to  Lea Bridge Road (Walthamstow Marshes) and Lea Bridge Road (Walthamstow Marshes) to the Limehouse Basin. Within the 50 mile stretch, 18 of these are within London’s boundaries, and pass through areas including Walthamstow, Tottenham Hale and Bow. I joined it at stages 3/4, however, one day I’d love to do the entire stretch!

The Lea (or Lee) marked the boundary between pre-Roman tribal territories, and later formed the frontier between Alfred The Great’s land, and the Danelaw. Recently it has become the transition between Middlesex and Essex, and still forms the boundary between Essex and Hertfordshire to the north.

I must say walking along this stretch of river is up there with my favourite walk on the Regent’s Canal, as it has the same beautiful features. Crisp, blue water as far as the eye can see. Pretty houses on the route. Wonderful reflections in the water. Plenty of canal boats. And an abundance of greenery, with the marshes in between the river and the towpath. It’s so peaceful walking through it, and I’m very jealous of the people who have the river as their window views!

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The Lea Valley Walk
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The Lea Valley Walk
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The Lea Valley Walk
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The Lea Valley Walk

I’ll now leave the Lea Valley Walk to visit my final destination today, Springfield Park! Occupying 14.73 hectares (36.4 acres) of green land, the park is located in Upper Clapton in the Borough of Hackney. In Georgian era Springfield House stood on the main entrance to the park and by the mid-Victorian period housing estates in the area were developed.

However, in 1902 the private estates and land in the area were sold off, with the park put up for auction. A group of local businessmen saved the park and eventually the London County Council took over the responsibility of it. In 1905 the park was opened to the public!

I’ve discovered many parks on my walks, and they all seem to have their own unique features and are all different in some way. Springfield Park has a really steep hill and incline, something not seen in many other areas in London, and with the backdrop of the River Lea behind it, it certainly is a perfect way to end a walk!

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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Springfield Park
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Behind Springfield Park

It has  been a wonderful walk exploring more of East London’s natural wonders and discovering the gems along the Lea Valley Walk! Hope you’ve enjoyed my walk, and please share your thoughts in the comments section below! You can catch me on TwitterInstagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to sign up to my blog too!

Until next time, have fun walking, and see you soon!

Sources: (not the food sauces)

All photos taken by London Wlogger. © Copyright 2017

History of the Hackney Downs – London Gardens

History of Clapton Pond – Hackney

Map of the Lea Valley Walk – Cicerone

Information about the Lea Valley Walk – Londonist

History of Springfield Park – Destination Hackney

39 thoughts on “Hackney Downs to Springfield Park: Exploring the Lea Valley Walk

  1. Another new area for me.

    “Throughout the years the area has seen various facilities added including women’s toilets in 1908 (hard to believe there were only men’s there…)”

    That’s because Victorian-era women never needed the loo: It’s just not done, you know. We have no bodily functions.

    Like

  2. Wouldn’t it be a treat to live along the water and have those beautiful views. Funny you should mention the men’s only toilets. There is a toilet block here, on one of our main streets, that is heritage listed but no longer in use. It was for men only and dates from the 19th century. The women had to go to the CWA facilities in another part of town. Anyway, last year the area where the toilet block is located underwent massive redevelopment and because the building is listed, it had to be removed brick by brick and then reassembled in the same location. Of course, that was at ratepayers’ expense! It’s not even attractive.

    Liked by 1 person

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