Spring really was in the air for this section of our Lea
Valley exploration, from Broxbourne to Rye House.The sun shone all morning, and just outside Broxbourne we stopped to admire a multi-tasking swan, busy improving its nest while still incubating the eggs.
Out on the
water, mother birds whose broods had already hatched were introducing
their offspring to the world.
Further along, newly-returned Common Terns swooped
and dived into the river with balletic grace.
This beautiful stretch of
waterway, which includes the junction with the Stort Navigation, was busy with
boats moving to new moorings or being spruced up ready for summer.
As we walked along, we saw blossom everywhere, attracting the butterflies. At one point we heard a thrush singing.
Lunch was at
the Fish and Eels pub at Hoddersdon, which dates back to the 1800s and has had
many landlords over the years, including, in 1906, the Rev Samuel Thackeray,
who took to innkeeping after being defrocked.
After lunch we made our way past Dobbs
Weir (above) and on to Rye House Gatehouse.
This is all that remains of a once-splendid moated
mansion that was built in 1443 by Sir Andrew Ogard, and was one of England’s first
It’s adorned with crenelations, barley-sugar twist chimneys and a
row of faces that look down from the base of the parapet.
At one time the home
of the family of Catherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII’s six wives, in 1683 it
was the centre of a plot to assassinate Charles II and his brother James. They
were due to pass the house after attending a race meeting at Newmarket, but the
plot was discovered. The ringleaders, who’d feared the royal brothers might
return the country to Catholicism, were arrested and executed. Today, the
outline of the house is recorded in brick in the grounds. The gatehouse is sometimes open (details below) but not on the day of our visit.
By mid-afernoon, the sun had vanished so, with a last glimpse of the many birds and the blossom, it was back across the river to Rye House station, and the train home.