London has a good amount of green space generally, but we are especially lucky to live just by one of the largest areas of common land in the city. The Marshes are semi-natural wetlands, part of the Lee Valley Regional Park. Though parks and playgrounds are great for kids, it is wonderful that we have such easy access to a space that is a bit more wild.
There are paths cut through the long grass to make it easier for cyclists and walkers to navigate the terrain, which are also ideal for buggies and toddlers who can’t quite manage long grass yet.
There are plenty of walks of different lengths, which you can find here. Whilst we’ve explored a number of different routes by now, we have our own preferred walk, which takes us down behind the WaterWorks Centre, over the river, under Lea Bridge Road, and out the other side behind the Ice Centre.
During the summer, events like Countryside Live are often held behind the Ice Centre. It’s a bit quieter at this time of year, but there is still the occasional activity, normally guided walks. There is a cafe at the WaterWorks Centre, though we’ve never actually used it, preferring to save our pennies by bringing snacks or popping back home for a cup of tea. During the early autumn we made great use of the copious numbers of blackberries growing round the area.
During the week the Marshes are usually really quiet, which is great for us as Tom can explore without worrying about being run over by cyclists. It gets busier at weekends, but there is plenty of space for everyone – I just have to be more careful to keep Tom out of the path of oncoming bikes. Rainy days tend to be pretty quiet as well.
Friends of mine occasionally take riding lessons at the Riding Centre. Tom is a bit young (and it’s an expensive hobby!) but we do enjoy hearing the horses neighing as we walk past.
The Marshes are the perfect antidote to city life, especially with a toddler encouraging you to take your time and explore thoroughly!