Herts Embraced 6.3: The New River and an old one, to Cheshunt

Cheshunt, 5:30 pm.

My first destination of the afternoon after crossing the meadow was the Rye Meads Sewage Works, which announced their presence from afar off and did not fill me with hope. The works fill the corner between the River Stort and the River Lea (or Lee, there is no fixed spelling) which is why I headed further in, to the New River.  Incongruously though, after what felt like a mile of sewage-estate, I came across the remains of a gorgeous late-mediæval house – Rye House – famous for the Rye House Plot of 1683, and now just a gatehouse, in stark contrast to the modernity about it.

Rye House

The New River is a remarkable achievement, running from the springs at Amwell it is a real river, in that it flows, but wholly man-made, created to take water to London, and now a good, green route south for me.  I was not looking forward to the afternoon’s walk as the map shows a belt of continuous urban development all the way south to join that of Middlesex, but in the event the New River Path leads straight through to provide a good path and a pleasant one. My goodness, some of the houses leading down to the riverbank!

I eventually turned off the path at Wormely and cut through to the River Lee (or Lea) and a path running south down its valley. Oh Lea (or Lee), what have they done to you? Where once there was a river, centuries of excavation and industry have left lakes and a canal and odd channels, and somewhere in among it must be the old course of the old River Lee (or Lea).  I followed it down and after a few false turns eventually found Cheshunt station, but took the opportunity to dash into the woods on occasion to see the lakes and channels.

I looked down the canalised River Lea (etc) and remembered that just a little to the south is the spot at the corner of Middlesex where I finished the Middlesex Greenway last year.  Well, it was time to go to the station to come home (by way of The Maltsters), but next time I will step another mile south and then say farewell to the border with Essex and turn west at long last.

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