Across the Marshes from Leyton Filter Beds to Walthamstow Wetlands

This is the second in my series of walks for Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019.

We start at the Leyton WaterWorks Centre, part of the Lee Valley Regional Park. I find the Essex Filter Beds one of the most beguiling locations in East London – for its role in providing the booming population of the city with clean drinking water, and the way it has become a haven for plant, bird and insect life. It’s a real oasis in the East.

We move on past the abandoned pitch and put, which I still dearly miss, and pay homage to the course of the old River Lea by the Friends Bridge (important not to cross here as it takes you over the border into Hackney). The path that leads beneath Lea Bridge Road and along the top of Leyton Marshes apparently follows the course of the aqueduct that linked the filter beds to the reservoirs at Coppermill Lane.

Waterworks Leyton

Walking across Leyton Marshes always reminds me of joining the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee on a Beating of the Bounds in 2006. They talked about the ancient common rights of pasture that existed on the marshes based around the Lammas grazing system (‘Loaf Mass’). The importance of learning the boundaries of your parish. Grazing on the marshes ended in the early 20th Century but Belted Galloway cattle have recently been reintroduced to helped rebalance the ecology of this precious landscape.

Leyton Marshes

Marshlands WF Tours.00_13_08_10.Still018

Sandy Lane takes us to the railway arches where A.V. Roe built his notorious tri-plane in 1909. From here we enter Walthamstow marshes.

John Rogers Marshlands walk

Guided walk July 2019 – photo by Marco Visconti

The walk ends at Walthamstow Wetlands, taking in the tremendous views of the reservoirs from the Coppermill Tower.



  1. Graham L   •  

    Hi John – can’t read about Leyton Marshes or the Lammas Lands without thinking of the late Katy Andrews, who stood up for them and fought for their protection. Committed and passionate campaigner for a wide variety of causes, and a real character who was taken far too soon. RIP Katy – I’m sure your spirit still watches over the marshes!

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks for that comment Graham – me too, I mention Katy and her work in the video.

  2. Loughman   •  

    When I was a school student, I wondered just how one needs to handle this issue but I would always encounter some funny answers: go google it ask a friend.
    What if my friends don’t have sufficient knowledge or experience to assist me?
    What when I googled it several times and couldn’t find the answer?
    That’s when posts like this you can give proper guidance on the problem.
    Once more, thank you for your work!

  3. Andrew   •  

    I listened to a very interesting recent “In our Time” podcast about the Danelaw, which I was remembering while watching and hearing about Vikings here. So your videos bring history to life and helps me to notice the little things when out and about- the way history has shaped the land and the way we live now.
    I was wondering when wandering along the Bosphorus on a holiday walk to the Black Sea how many fascinating stories are there around me in the local landscape , yet I do not see or appreciate them for surely they must be there all around me as they are here… might there be a Turkish “John Rogers” telling us about them somewhere? Maybe there isn’t! … Then I realise how lucky we are to have such informative creativity and passion.

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