The Lee Navigation
Rammey Marsh and Waltham Abbey
The lock and 1835 iron bridge at Rammey Marsh.
This section of the Lee Navigation was the last to be constructed outside of London, and the date on Rammey Marsh bridge gives the date of completion. It replaced the entire river section from Enfield to Waltham Abbey. Rammey Marsh is the second of two partially mechanised locks on the navigation besides Enfield. From here to Hertford the locks are entirely manual.
The M25 bridge is visible in the background, and forms the boundary between Greater London and the County of Essex. This is the first of the navigation's several forays into Essex - hence the only navigable waterway in Essex connected to the remainder of the waterways system.
The entrance to Hazlemere Marina. There is a water point and a sanitary station accessible from the towpath.
It might be difficult to believe but at one time this location was the intersection of four different waterway routes. There were two branches onto the River Lea, and the separate but navigable Waltham Abbey arm. Nowadays there just isnt any choice and one must walk into Waltham Abbey from here.
This is not a brilliant stretch of waterway but its sort of likeable. There are useful shops near the abbey itself, or a there's greater choice at Waltham Cross to the west. A visit to the abbey itself is recommended - one must simply see the signs of the zodiac painted so intricately onto the abbey's ceiling, its a wonderful sight. The town itself has some noteworthy buildigns and delightful walks along backwaters. One might even find the old town wharf. The Royal Gunpowder Mills are a short walk away and it is worth a visit - you may even get to see one or two of the Armoury's own private canals with their own locks and aqueducts.
Delightful scene at Waltham Abbey
THE OLD ORDER OF WATERWAYS AT WALTHAM:
The Lee Navigation once connected into the actual River Lea for a short distance from a point just above the M25 at Rammey Marsh as far as the Hazlemere marina footbridge. From here one could reach Waltham Abbey along a branch of the River Lea as well as boat upriver towards some wharves to the north of Waltham Bridge and boat downstream towards what were known as 'The Islands.' None of this exists now. The new replacement flood relief channel for the River Lea replaced the original channel. The only trace that such an arrangement ever existed is the remains of a weir seen to the south of Hazlemere marina. Here the Lee Navigation and the River Lea merged for about a quarter of a mile.
The construction of the Horsemill Stream relief channel changed the face of the waterways around here. Boaters on the Lee Navigation no longer have any access onto the River Lea.
Little known to many, Waltham Town Lock used to be south of the main road bridge. The clue is in the lock-keeper's house still standing adjacent to Hazelmere marina. The lock was moved north when the main road bridge needed to be widened and lowered.
There are plenty of walks in the area including ones along the River Lea flood relief channel, and the remnants of the Powdermill Cut. The two Waltham locks (Town and Common) lift the Lee Navigation up to Cheshunt, where a useful mooring spot is handy for it's railway station and local shops.