Get Out Of Zone 1: North East London

By Londonist Staff Last edited 95 months ago
Get Out Of Zone 1: North East London

Done all the usual tourist attractions? Want to escape the centre of London and leave zone 1 for a few hours? Don't shoot us down just yet — take a look at what north east London has to offer (or browse south east London's offerings here, south west London's gems here or north west London's attractions here).

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

You'll already know the main attractions here: the Olympic swimming pool, the Orbit tower, the acres of waterside meadows... This Easter is an excellent time to explore, with plenty of family events to try. On Good Friday, watch the Team GB cyclists hurtle around the velodrome, or else take the kids to the various bike sessions in the Velopark. See Dappy, Rudimental and other celebrities kick balls around in the Soccer Six tournament on 26 March. Over at the pool, a three-day swimming development camp helps kids feel at ease in the water, while free sports sessions are available at the Timber Lodge. Or you could just wander round and admire the mix of wildlife and architecture.

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is a short walk from Stratford, Hackney Wick or Pudding Mill Lane stations. Some events are free, others include an entrance fee

Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge

And now for somewhere named after the other Liz. London isn't exactly awash with genuine Tudor buildings, and the outer-London district of Chingford might not seem the best place to seek one. Yet here stands the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge, a throwback to the 16th century, when Epping Forest was a royal hunting ground. It's well geared up for families, with children's activities and a particularly good dressing-up box. From here, the forest is a short walk away — if the neighbouring information centre and pub don't distract you first.

Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge, 8 Rangers Road, Chingford, E4 7QH. Free entry

The Lea Valley

The lower reaches of the River Lea (or Lee), centred on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, are well known, but a stroll upriver can be equally rewarding. We'd recommend starting in Waltham Abbey, just outside London. Here, the Epping Forest District Museum recently reopened following a major revamp. This sensitively converted Tudor home tells the story of the area, and throws in the occasional bit of tube paraphernalia:

Then, follow the river south, past picturesque canal cottages, not-so-picturesque industrial parks, and an epic stretch beside the William Girling reservoir. We recently walked three miles without seeing a single soul, save the unexpected sheep and ponies grazing by the reservoir — this is about as far as you can get from civilisation while still in London. Train stations are conveniently located at Ponders End (four miles) or Tottenham Hale (five miles) if you don't want to walk all the way down to Stratford.

Epping Forest District Museum is at 39 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey EN9 1EL. Entry is free. The River Lee towpath is freely open 24 hours a day

Fairlop Waters Boulder Park

Climbing can be a daunting, expensive affair. Not at Fairlop Waters, where an outdoor boulder park offers a free scramble for all standards. Thought to be the largest such facility in the UK, try your hand (plus other hand and both feet) at these nine challenging climbs (PDF). A new high-ropes course offers further clambering opportunities, with supervised sessions on Saturdays and Sundays at 10am, 12.30pm and 2pm — just turn up.

Fairlop Waters is on Forest Road, a short walk from Fairlop tube station. Entrance is free, and parking is available

Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve

Straddling the border with Essex, Rainham Marshes is one of London's wildest places. Its 1,000 acres of wetland are a haven for birds and insects. Visitors can explore the winding pathways, dipping in and out of hides. The former Ministry of Defence land is still peppered with military infrastructure, adding a slightly surreal touch to the nature reserve. This Easter sees plenty of family activities, including birdwatching workshops, guided walks and photography drop-in sessions.

Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve, New Tank Hill Road, Purfleet RM19 1SZ. Car park: voluntary £1 donation. Reserve: non-members: £5 adult and £3 child; free to RSPB members and residents of Havering and Thurrock

Eastbury Manor House

An otherwise nondescript housing estate in Barking harbours a peculiar secret. Eastbury Manor House is a striking Elizabethan mansion owned by the National Trust. It's a pleasure to explore at any time, but this Easter look out for family craft activities and an Easter egg trail.

Eastbury Manor House, Eastbury Square, Barking IG11 9SN

A Walthamstow pub crawl

North east London contains plenty of admirable pubs, but nowhere more so than Walthamstow. Start at The Bell, on the busy crossroads of Forest Road and Hoe Street. It's one of the best options for food, and popular with family groups. Just down the road, the Rose and Crown exudes community spirit, with an excellent ale selection. Several good pubs can be found in upmarket Walthamstow Village. Our favourite's the laid-back Nag's Head, with its pleasant beer garden. On weekend evenings, the Wildcard Brewery offers some excellent homemade tipples. While you're there, be sure to check out the neighbours: Mother's Ruin gin bar and the famous neon store God's Own Junkyard.

Pub addresses and opening times can be found on the links provided. For more pub suggestions in north east London, try our Best Pubs in London microsite.

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Last Updated 24 March 2016