Lockdown walks? Six handy ideas

From canalside coffee to medieval churches, murals and ancient filter beds, shake up your strolls

Here East

We know you all know this one, but Here East (pictured above) is worth a mention as almost all the outlets are open for takeaway food and drink – yep, booze too – during lockdown. Our walk over there takes in the formal beauty of Coronation Gardens before arriving at the nearest tip of the Olympic Park, where, crossing the various bridges, we still marvel at the urban-bucolic combo of motorways and waterways.

Originally part of the Media Centre for the Olympics, the parade was a bit too oversubscribed during the first lockdown, but with the change in season it’s a little more chill, in every sense of the word. So wrap up warm, order good coffee and plant-based fare at Mother, chicken thigh burgers and wings from Randy’s, artisan pizza and pasta from Gotto, or wildly popular brunch from the Breakfast Club. Then idle with a plastic pint of craft beer on a bench with a loved one overlooking the colourful moored narrowboats. And yes, you can even get a takeaway negroni. Hic. More info here.

Blink and you could be in a village. St Mary’s Leyton. Photo: SE

The 400-year old bell tower at St Mary’s Leyton church

There’s something about this Grade II-listed church (main pic, above) nestled in its ancient micro-patch of overgrown parkland – and yet moments from noisy Leyton High Road – that’s utterly compelling. It also makes a handy cut-through to Ive Farm, the itsy Dagenham Brook and canine fave Jubilee Park. Rebuilt more times than almost every other, St Mary’s actually dates back to medieval times – 1200, to be precise – although it even bags itself a mention in the Domesday Book back in 1085. Go Leyton! What you see now is mostly early 19th century, but pause and regard that lofty bell-tower: in 1658, the original 13th century version was in danger of collapse, and replaced by this present beauty. Wander the leafy churchyard for haunting early deaths and families entombed together.

The Filter Beds this week. Photo: SE

Middlesex Filter Beds

Only half an hour’s amble away is this ten-acre haven for wildlife, just past WaterWorks nature reserve. Built by the East London WaterWorks Company back in the late 19th century it’s a haunting reminder of how once-industrial areas can become rich habitats for wildlife. When the capital suffered its worst ever outbreak of cholera in 1852 – something in 2020 we probably now have a lot more sympathy for – the Middlesex Filter Beds were constructed as part of the effort to make sure such epidemics were never repeated. Half a century ago, with the beds closed, kindly Mother Nature began to take over, and the open water, reedbeds and wet woodland habitats are wistfully atmospheric. The filter beds also boast Paula Haughney’s mighty Nature’s Throne, made from huge granite blocks salvaged from an old engine house. It’s a good place just to sit and ponder this crazy old year.


The Adriana Jaros, E10. Photo: Stephen Emms

London Murals

Still not made it to gawp at one of the really very impressive murals that sprung up across the area during lockdown? Make a morning of it across E10, E11 and E15. And E17 if you’ve got new trainers. This colourful work by Adriana Jaros, above, for example is on Essex Road (sort of on the cusp of Leyton, Leytonstone and Walthamstow); while another impressively huge one is Adele Renault’s down on Water Lane E15. Our favourite is still Stronger Together by Lea Bridge Overground (although Lucy Hamilton’s at Fillybrook is pretty good too). Lockdown month is surely the time to tick these all off, people. Follow @londonmuralfestival

Jubilee Pond
Jubilee Pond this week. Photo: SE

Jubilee Pond

As we said last week, Wanstead Flats is (obviously) a regular weekday destination here at Leytonstone HQ, as is its always beautiful Jubilee Pond, with three islands and its large peninsular. But it’s actually the wooden jetty that does it for us – and this is the perfect contemplative spot to lean and look out on the world (you can also eye up the geese – Canada, Greylag and Egyptian – as well as gliding swans). Previously known as the Model Yacht Pond or Dames Road Pond, and stone-edged as municipal ponds were back in the 1980s and 90s, it fell into a state of disrepair until its current rebirth back in 2002. Thank goodness for E11 community spirit.

Open for takeouts: Patch. Photo: SE

Patch Cafe London

And finally, artisan coffee anyone? Only five minutes’ west of Jubilee Pond is this surprising spot, buried deep within Cann Hall Road skate park. It now boasts a lovely Scandi-style interior, extremely good coffee, all manner of pastries – and delicious-looking lunches that, the other afternoon, made our mouths water, despite having scraped together something way more inferior at home. The good news is that it’s takeout all the way through lockdown, so grab something and head back to the Flats for some wintry soul-searching. Follow @patchcafelondon

In case you missed ’em: 5 more

Wanstead Park – so stunning right now
Hollow Pond – needs no intro, surely?
A self-guided Hitchcock trail…through E11
The Tomb of the Man Who Freed Slaves
Linear Park – E11’s quirkiest stretch 

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