My 25th trip since starting this jaunt and one of the many things I’ve learnt since starting is not to be dismayed when there’s nothing obviously interesting as there’s always a hidden gem…and Cheshunt was no different.
Not an obvious end of the line station but Cheshunt is the end of the shuttle service from Liverpool Street, a line taken over by Tfl in 2015 and it shares its platforms with National Rail services from London to Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. It’s the first I’ve encountered with a level crossing for road users too.
The station also had a part to play during the 2012 Olympics acting as one of the alighting points for the nearby White Water Centre where the canoeing, kayaking and other similar water bound sports took place.
Heading east from the station towards Cheshunt I spot three pubs within the first few steps: The Windmill, The Maltsters and The Red Cow where I chat with Majella, the landlady who’s preparing for a forthcoming wake. She explains Cheshunt’s fortune has been affected by the relocation of Tesco’s HQ to Welwyn Garden City, the closure of shops and the movement of Eastern European migrants into the area. All of this has also caught the attention of Channel 4 which has expressed an interest in filming the impact of all this across the area.
As I walk from the station to the heart of the town, almost a kilometre, I pass a very tidy residential area and reflect on how the residents clearly care for their community as gardens and houses look immaculate, and the streets appear spotless. I also ponder on what’s the difference between a town and a village as I would say Cheshunt falls in-between, and I explore various definitions, all of which predominantly offer population density as the main defining criteria. There are other reasons too and here’s an example.
The town centre rests on a cross roads and it’s refreshing to see mostly independent shops, though social and economic decline is evident by the sight of closed shops. The fountain in the centre of the main roundabout sadly not working seemed to symbolise this decline and I felt the town has little to offer by way of incentivising people to visit.
The entrance to the town park in Turners Hill, which is adjacent to the library, offers a glimmer of history explaining its origins, and paths from the entrance lead you to the Laura Trott Leisure Centre which has been named in honour of the girl who was brought up in the town. Now known by her married name of course – Laura Kenny, Great Britain’s most successful Olympic female competitor in any sport.
Returning towards the station, I had earlier noticed a footpath sign to the River Lee Navigation way and onwards to the White Water Centre, so I made this my destination. On reaching the water, the straight walk of 1.5 kilometres took me along a peaceful waterway adorned with ‘lived in barges’ and canal boats.
Cyclists and walkers alike enjoy the towpath and I stop along the way to enjoy and capture the serene and scenic views. Most of those who I encounter are friendly and pleasant, and even the river workers, ferrying gas and coal upstream, wave and gave me a steam show to help with the pictures I’m taking.
Arriving at the White Water Centre, I didn’t know what to expect but I found the venue open to the public and it’s where I spent some time walking around and capturing the excitement of thrill seekers, and specialists practising their skills.
The Centre was purpose built for the 2012 Olympics and since then it has been open to the public providing two water courses for the novice, the expert and the thrill seekers enjoying team bonding sessions in an eight person raft. Access to all areas allowed me to test my long range close up skills against a constantly moving fore and background and of the 100+ shots I took, I have selected the following, for various reasons, as my favourite ones, and compiled a short video. I hope you enjoy them?
Returning to the Navigation towpath, I continue in a southerly direction towards Waltham Abbey/Cross and spot signs for the Royal Gunpowder Mills. No guesses what was there, but a brief historical search reveals this was one of the key locations where gunpowder was manufactured soon after its invention in the 17th Century. Walking there to take a peek was a disappointment as I learnt it was only open by appointment, however a curious roadside plaque caught my attention. A plaque that marked the location of the Sandhurst Hospital, a purpose built hospital to serve those injured in the mills receiving swift treatment before being moved to nearby hospitals for onward care.
I end my 9 kilometre journey at Waltham Cross station to take this somewhat weary, yet enthused traveller home. Thank you Herfordshire for your hospitality and I believe a return visit along the Lee River Navigation will be worthwhile.
See all Cheshunt pics on Google Photo here – feel free to comment
See the sidebar for a sample of Cheshunt pics on Instagram
For more info, look up Cheshunt on Wikipedia