Walthamstow Reservoirs


The Walthamstow Reservoirs are a true London secret, a huge area of lakes, trees and paths, which is publically accessible but largely unknown. The only people you are likely to meet in it are anglers and birdwatchers, both groups that thrive in a quiet environment and so I’m sure would rather the secret remained! But the area covers a huge part of central(ish) London and deserves to be known by more. There are plans mooted to open it up although nothing concrete. I took a trip into the reserve on Sunday, to have a look around.

Anyone can get in to the reserve, which is generally open during daylight hours (e.g. 8am to 5pm from October to March). There is only one public entrance, which is opposite the Ferry Boat Inn, on Ferry Lane, the road which runs across the Lea Valley, between Tottenham and Walthamstow. Tottenham Hale station is about a five minute walk away. The complex is owned by Thames Water, who enforce a permit system. On entering, go to the shack immediately on the right, fill out a pink form and hand it over to the warden there, along with £1. You’ll get half of the slip back, which acts as your permit.

You then pass through a narrow passage underneath the London Overground “GOBLIN” route, past a decaying Victorian pumping station – with some attractive lampholders attached to it – and then to various paths radiating out from this point into the reserve.


At the far end there is The Coppermill, a historic building which used to, as the name implies, mill copper into coins. These days it is used as part of the reservoir operations.


View all my photos from the Walthamstow Reservoirs here.

London Prints


  1. Jez C
    4 November 2013

    Interesting blog. I ran up the Leyton Marshes on Sat for the first time and was hoping I might be able to cirumnavigate one of the reservoirs (probably Warwick West). Was a bit disappointed to find this isn’t possible and so headed back along the Lee.

    • Ollie O'Brien
      11 November 2013

      Yes, you can run around them, but only once you are inside the reserve – and the only entrance is from the north. Incidentally there is only one entrance to Warwick West even once inside the reserve – it’s via a tunnel under the railway line.

  2. Helen O'Brien
    9 November 2013

    Looks an interesting place. Looking forward to seeing it when we’re down maybe?

    • Ollie O'Brien
      11 November 2013


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