Right at the northern end of the Victoria line lies Walthamstow, a place that many have spoken of, but few have ever seen. Ok, so that might be a little dramatic. But despite being the hometown of Lethal Bizzle, East 17, and Harry Kane, The ‘Stow (as it shall be affectionately nicknamed) is still surprisingly underappreciated.
In fact, it has real crackers stowed away – see what we did there? – that the people of London really need to know about. With that in mind, Secret London has decided to shine a light on some of the most interesting places in E17. So, without further ado, here are ten of the best things to do in Walthamstow:
1. Amble around the eclectic shops of Walthamstow Village
Walthamstow Village is an urban village packed full with a rich mix of independent shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, craft stores, wine shops and more. It’s a great spot to wander around and eat and drink to your heart’s content, and there’s even a taproom to boot too.
They run regular events and workshops throughout the year, so keep your eyes peeled on their website to see what’s happening round the clock.
You’ll find Walthamstow Village at Walthamstow Village Square, London, E17 9NX.
2. Take a stroll around London’s largest nature reserve
First up on this roundup of the best things to do in Walthamstow is one for the nature lovers amongst you. Sod off Hyde Park, because there’s a new kid on the block. And it’s bigger and wetter, too. Innuendos aside, the Walthamstow Wetlands are a magnificent green area with thirteen miles of paths and several picturesque reservoirs – home to kingfishers, peregrine falcons and herons too.
You can go fishing and birdwatching, or simply wander around Europe’s largest urban wetlands, all for free. The only downside is that dogs are verboten here, so you’ll need to go elsewhere for your daily dose of floofs, puppers and four-legged friends.
You’ll find the Walthamstow Wetlands at 286 Blackhorse Lane, London, E17 5QH.
3. Grab a slice or two of pizza at Yard Sale Pizza
Whilst it may not be indigenous to The ‘Stow, Yard Sale Pizza has a cult following. How cult? Well, Macaulay Culkin’s pizza-lovin’ band, The Pizza Underground, played the grand opening of their Clapton store back in 2014. Seriously.
Their Walthamstow joint is the flagship, and whilst the regular pies are top-notch, the frequent ‘love-ins’ they host with other eateries are also worth checking out. Previous efforts have seen them team with Monty’s Deli, White Men Can’t Jerk, and best of all, a pizza burger hybrid with Patty & Bun.
You can find them at 15 Hoe Street, E17 4SD. Their other locations can be found here.
4. Check out the designs at the William Morris Gallery
Next on this roundup of the best things to do in Walthamstow is one of the creatives. Wallpaper king, devoted socialist, and proud beard owner – list a more impressive resume, we’ll wait. A proud son of Walthamstow, the William Morris Gallery is housed inside his old home.
Stuffed to the brim with furniture, ceramics, wallpaper, and textiles designed by the man himself, the gallery has won the ‘UK Museum of the Year’ award before, and it also happens to be one-of-a-kind. Literally – it’s the only public William Morris museum on Earth.
You’ll find the William Morris Gallery at Lloyd Park, Forest Road, E17 4PP.
5. Achieve ‘ginception’ at Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace
To be fair, gin is our ruin too, so you’ll hear no judgement from us. Inside a former WW1 munitions factory sits Mother’s Ruin, a boutique gin palace that distils and sells over seventy gins. All the botanicals and ingredients they use are either taken from their orchards, or else foraged from the wilds of Walthamstow.
Best of all, on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, the place turns into a cosy cocktail bar, making this place a veritable Walthamstow ‘ginstitution’.
You’ll find Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace at Unit 18, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernall Street, E17 9QH
6. Have a laff and a half at Red Imp Comedy
If some of the UK’s top comedians routinely make the pilgrimage to Walthamstow, then you definitely should too. Counting Alan Carr, Omid Djalili, Gina Yashere, Sara Pascoe and Stewart Lee as past guests, Red Imp Comedy is one of the area’s best-kept secrets.
Run by the irrepressible MC Susan Murray, expect to see a mix of old hands and up-and-comers on the first Thursday of every month. Regardless of who’s performing, you can be confident of leaving with a grin on your face at this comedy club.
You’ll find Red Imp Comedy at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Bar, 55 Hoe St, E17 4SA.
7. Wander down Europe’s longest outdoor market
They really do like having Europe’s biggest stuff here, don’t they? Another worthy addition to this roundup of the best things to do in Walthamstow, Walthamstow Market is a kilometre-long paradise of food, homeware, clothes and more, perfect for a Saturday morning stroll. Having started in 1885, nowadays over five hundred stalls line the High Street.
It’s open from Tuesday to Saturday, and you can easily lose hours wandering from friendly vendor to vendor.
You’ll find Walthamstow Market on the High Street, between Cleveland Park Avenue and Pretoria Avenue, E17.
8. Enter a neon wonderland at God’s Own Junkyard
Many things in London claim to be unique, but very few actually are. God’s Own Junkyard is one place that is undeniably, certifiably unique. It is, quite simply, a neon-lit paradise of salvaged signs, film props, and illuminated art.
If you can dream it, they’ve got it in neon – a quick scan of their gallery reveals flags, skeletons, and even one that simply reads ‘James Blunt’. One of these bad boys will brighten up your flat, but even if you aren’t in the market, it’s definitely worth a visit.
You’ll find God’s Own Junkyard at Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall Street, E17 9HQ.
9. Get the pints down ya at the Wild Card Brewery
Described as “a hobby that got way out of hand”, Wild Card Brewery is the product of three plucky Midlanders who set up in The ‘Stow. Now, they offer incredible craft beers and IPAs in both bottles and kegs.
They also operate two bars on weekends, and even play host to various pop-ups on certain Sundays. With all that, it’s not hard to see why they’re popular local favourites. Other fantastic breweries in the area include Exale Brewing, Pillars Brewery and Taproom and Signature Brew – both part of the new Blackhorse Beer Mile.
You’ll find the Wild Card Brewery at two different locations in E17. You can find out more here.
10. Head up north to the wilds of Epping Forest
Rounding off this list of the best things to do in Walthamstow is really something every Londoner should do at some point. The southern fringes of ‘The People’s Forest’ run alongside Walthamstow, earning it a spot here. With 50,000 trees and one hundred ponds (one of which has a penchant for murder), Epping Forest has drawn visitors as famous as Alfred, Lord Tennyson himself.
Nowadays, you’re more likely to encounter mountain bikers than melancholy poets at Epping Forest, but it’s a great spot to walk off the pizza and gin that Walthamstow has been spoiling you with! They also have some fantastic bluebells during the right season.
You’ll find Epping Forest Visitor’s Centre at 6 Ranger’s Road, London, E4 7QH.
Also published on Medium.