Hollow Ponds



Swans glide gracefully and effortlessly across the water of Hollow Pond but walking around the lake is an effort for people – up and down the steep mounds, dry and hard and solid, formed not by nature but by excavating for gravel and later, to give local unemployed men work, digging out the ground to form a lake.


The bushes that grow around here are quite distinct for their darker green leaves that are scratchy and sharp – thistles and brambles and spiky gorse which thrive in this arid earth, contrasting with the soft bright green leaves of the vegetation just a bit further south.


People who grew up in this area of Leytonstone remember a much smaller, round pond at the far end where they paddled and sailed their toy boats. It has dried up now and the giant shallow bowl in the landscape holds reeds where children once splashed in the water, played on the sandy banks and believed that this was the seaside.


This is still a popular place for the people to visit. Rowing boats set out from the bank and move across the water towards the island where a heron may have stopped to rest and keep a lookout for fish. Cyclists whizz up and down the gravelly mounds and joggers use them to improve their fitness and speed.



Others have more sedate plans, to meander around the paths, watch the water fowl through binoculars, take photos or sit for hours waiting for a fish to bite.


Later in the day a v-shaped formation of geese may fly overhead – making their way to where they roost, a different location to where they spend the daylight hours feeding. Like many parts of East London, Hollow Ponds lies beneath their flight path.


A track leads to a clearing where there is a rusty pipe, a remnant of times gone by when a spring from the underground river provided drinking water to local people.


This was the site of The Birch Well - anyone living outside the parish boundary had to pay one penny for three buckets, a reminder of how people lived in times gone by.



Walk from Walthamstow Forest or from Wanstead Flats across Leyton Flats

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