Friday, 2 September 2011

Walthamstow - waterways and woodlands

Today is the beginning of Walthamstow's E17 Art Trail. While the trail is on I will be writing about the place and some of the exhibitions.
Walthamstow sits on the edge of the Lea Valley, which is a swathe of green landscape encompassing the complicated watercourse of the River Lea, the Lea Navigation Canal, the reservoirs, filter beds and water treatment plant at Coppermill Lane, and the open fields of the marshes. You could walk around the town centre without seeing any of this, but it's quite evident as a green barrier coming in to Walthamstow by train across the marshes, or by bus on one of the only two road links, Ferry Lane passing the long blank brick wall of the reservoirs, and Lea Bridge Road passing the marshes and equestrian centre. An open landscape with a wide view of the sky, willows and tall poplar trees, swans coming in to land and geese flying in v-formation overhead, rusty gas holders and electricity pylons looming in the distance, boat dwellers in their tatty narrowboats. Then to the north, Epping Forest bleeds in between the suburban fringes, the old gravel pits near Whipps Cross hospital with rowing boats for hire, and woods criss-crossed with muddy paths. All of which makes a difference to how you feel about the place.

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