The Leaway

London isn’t a place you usually associate with rivers. Think of the metropolis and brick, concrete and steel come to mind rather than pleasant little brooks. Yet as I have grown to know London I have fallen in love with it’s waterways. There’s the mighty Thames, of course, which I fell in love with ten years ago; but more than that there are the little tributaries which feed it. The river Lea as it flows down from Stratford is particularly wonderful. You can now stroll along it’s banks all the way from Cody Dock to the Olympic park, along a wonderfully peaceful, accessible path. It is a route I now take quite often. A great deal of time and care has clearly been taken to restore the Lea and the footpath which runs beside it to its rightful glory, and there are plans to extend the path to the Thames itself. The Lea, slightly wider and deeper than the river Dane at Congleton, seems to help ease my mind as it winds it’s way past the Victorian warehouses and seventeenth century mills of north-east London. As I follow the path the sprawling metropolis around me and the troubled world beyond it fade into the background, so all I can hear is birdsong, the wind, and the soft whirr of my powerchair motors. Where I once rolled along the Dane as it flowed through my childhood hometown, I now spend hours exploring the waterways of east London, once famously so polluted, yet now one of the city’s greatest features. Surely the Lea is one of London’s hidden secrets: one of it’s lesser-known gems.

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