Dating back to Roman times, the River Lea is one of the biggest rivers in London. Rising in the Chiltern Hills, it flows southeast through London before entering the Thames in London’s East End.
Much of the River Lea is now canalised and known as the Lea Navigation. This navigation flows past the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
It’s the place where Etienne Stott and Tim Baille won gold, and David Florence and Richard Hounslow snatched silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games. A historic day in terms of British canoe slalom medals!
The navigation also continues south from here and flows past the Olympic 2012 site. It flows past the old athletics stadium, (West Ham Football Club), the Orbit designed by Anish Kapoor, the velodrome and more.
In terms of wildlife, it’s not a river you’ll find lots of wildlife along. However, the upper stretches are classed as a chalk stream. Closer to London, seals have been spotted as well as ‘monster pike!’
Those looking for a playspot should head to Dobbs Weir (see point on map above). Or if you’re looking for some white water fun, the stretch from Welwyn Gardens has some grade 1 rapids… but look out for tree hazards!