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.