Meadows and Woodlands
This is a trip of 7 miles along the River Lee Navigation, with 4 locks from Dobbs Weir Lock No 6 to Hertford Lock No 1, which will take approximately 3 hours and 40 minutes. Or you may choose a more leisurely cruise, taking time to moor up and enjoy the beauty of the countryside along the way – here are a few ideas of what you can see.
There’s lots to discover when mooring your canal boat at Dobbs Weir, as well as using it as a base to explore further afield. There are plenty of walks, places to spot wildlife and discover history as well as peaceful fishing spots. If you are feeling peckish and don’t fancy cooking in the fully equipped kitchen on-board, you could have a picnic or eat at the Cafe or riverside pub.
Take some time out to stretch your legs and enjoy some wildlife watching in the surrounding meadows and woodlands. If you would like to enjoy a longer walk, head south and follow the walking route signs and, within 10 minutes, you can discover Nazeing Meads and enjoy the three large lagoons, wildflower meadows and woodlands.
Just to the north of Dobbs Weir is Glen Faba, a large lake with grassland, reedbeds and woods, this is a quieter and wilder place to explore and a great area for wildlife watching.
Back on your boat, continue along to Feilde’s Weir Lock as you head towards the the Lee Valley Park Authority owned Ryehouse Gatehouse, a medieval former fortified manor house with a rich history. Built in 1443 by Sir Andrew Ogard, a Danish knight, this is one of the first brick built houses in the country. The Gatehouse has an important history, most notably being at the centre of an unsuccessful plot in 1683 to assassinate King Charles II and his brother, the Duke of York (later James II).
Now a grade 1 listed building, the Gatehouse is open to the public and while there you could visit the nearby Rye House Quay which is a lovely spot for a picnic or take a short walk to Rye Meads Nature Reserve.
The RSPB Reserve is popular with birdwatchers, walkers and photographers, with many hides and trails to follow. The delightful wetland reserve hosts a diverse range of habitats which attract a wide variety of birds including common tern, snipe, green sandpipers, shovelers, gadwalls, tufted ducks and kingfisher, as well as many other animals and plant life.
Back on board we head towards the picturesque village of Stanstead Abbotts, which has a train station (on the London Liverpool Street line) and a number of shops, pubs and restaurants. There are also moorings available here at Lee Valley Marina.
Continuing our journey we pass through two locks – Stanstead Lock and Hardmead Lock, cruising past Amwell Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest managed by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. The Reserve is a diverse wetland, which includes a complex of lakes, reedbeds, grassland, scrub and woodland that support internationally important numbers of wintering wildfowl with breeding birds and dragonflies.
We continue to Hertford through the beautiful countryside, passing through the pretty ancient town of Ware in east Hertfordshire. Read more about Ware in our blog: Discover 10,000 years of history and homemade brownies – Ware by canal boat
As you head into Hertford, through Hertford Lock, you will pass Hartham Common, a large public open space in the centre of Hertford, comprising wildlife-rich river corridors, cattle-grazed meadows, and a network of paths and various recreational facilities.
You will then reach your final destination and will find that Hertford is a town well worth exploring!
Discover Hertford Castle a Grade I listed building, originally built on the site of a Norman Castle. Hertford Castle Gatehouse is all that remains of Hertford Castle and is now available for wedding and private hire.
Hertford also has a local museum, which depicts the history of Hertford with local artefacts, objects and images. The town has a wealth of shops, restaurants, attractions and events to discover and enjoy.