Itinerary Location: Walthamstow | Duration: 5-7 Hours
If you love someone, let them go…
…on this exceptionally charming itinerary around Walthamstow. It makes for a perfect low-key date (particularly if you want to stay on budget); but could also make a great solo expedition or – simply by spending more time at certain pit-stops than others – a boozy day out with friends.
En route you’ll take in a big, beautiful patch of wilderness taking over a site of Victorian industry, sample amazing street food, and take a survey of the cutting edge of London’s craft brewing scene.
Your journey begins at Walthamstow Central, which is on the Vicky line and is therefore exempt from any complaints that it’s miles away. Cross the gardens in front of you and head left down…
➊ WALTHAMSTOW HIGH STREET | 1:30pm
Surprise! It’s the longest outdoor market in Europe! You weren’t even expecting it, yet here you are.
Running every Saturday and Sunday (confusingly), the Walthamstow Sunday Social Market brings together dozens of street food traders hawking everything from whole lobster paella to deep fried ice cream and Hungarian chimney cakes.
Grab a box of something delicious, and continue left down the street towards…
➋ WALTHAMSTOW WETLANDS | 2:30pm
‘Wet lands’ goes some way to describing what you’ll find at this vast, 211 hectare nature reserve. No, that number doesn’t really mean a whole lot to us in the abstract either, but trust us when we say this place is just really, really huge. And bucolic. Romantic poets would probably have come here, if it had existed pre-1853, when the East London waterworks started building the eleven reservoirs making up the site. It’s perfectly possible that you don’t consider yourself a ‘nature reserve’ kind of person, but you just might be the kind of person who’d like to walk (or cycle) between huge, mirror-still bodies of water; enjoy leafy views (with surprisingly few skyscrapers in the background); enjoy a picnic on a jetty or just bask in the rural beauteousness of it all, soundtracked by the calls of tufted ducks, lapwings and herons.
‘Spending time in nature’ box dutifully ticked, it’s time to immediately head in the direction of booze.
➌ BLACKHORSE BEER MILE | 4:30pm
You’re no doubt familiar with the Bermondsey Beer Mile, but this is the dark horse giving it a run for its money. In recent years Blackhorse Road has become something of a hub for craft breweries, and this has now been commemorated with its own official route: the Blackhorse Beer Mile. There’s currently eight breweries along the stretch (and counting), including Wild Card Brewing and Signature Brew, and they all have taprooms attached (mostly with some decent al fresco space, too). Here you can sample a little tank-fresh beer, score some more street food if you’re peckish, and catch the occasional DJ set, sports screening or live band.
Along the way, you might notice the odd one out – because Renegade, true to its name, is not a brewery. Instead, it’s an urban winery, taking the finest grapes from vineyards in the UK and Europe, and squeezing them into bottles on site. Time to head in…
➍ RENEGADE URBAN WINERY | 7pm
The good news is that the world’s top scientists have pretty much debunked the whole ‘beer before/after wine’ thing. So it would seem churlish not to try some of Renegade’s grape-hooch while you’re in the neighbourhood. The other good news is that the winery also hosts regular kitchen residencies, with up-and-coming outfits cooking up a storm Thursday – Saturday evenings. Right now, you can enjoy the fresh pasta wares of The Italians Upstairs, whose recipes come directly from their 4ft Nonna.
But that’s another storey…
➊ Walthamstow High Street | E17 7JN
➋ Walthamstow Wetlands | 2 Forest Road, N17 9NH
➌ Blackhorse Beer Mile | Blackhorse Lane, E17 5QJ
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our list of free things to do in London