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Leyton Marshes

Walk along the tow path beside Walthamstow Marshes and you find yourself going up a slope to Leyton Marshes. The ground here has been raised by the dumping of rubble from buildings bombed in the Second World War and which was then grassed over.

Nature has helped the space to recover and there is no trace of those times.

Long before that the land was drained by digging open ditches and was farmed in strips with hay grown for winter feed for the animals that were kept here.

Porters Field Meadow forms part of Leyton Marshes, so called because market porters cut across here, hauling farm produce from the fields to Spitalfields Market.

They would have followed the Black Path – which still holds a fascination for people around here. Part of the mystery is the route that it takes – some people believe that it may have been diverted around the tollgate so that the porters avoided having to pay the tax.

And why was it called the Black Path? It may have been the rich, dark colour of the soil … but we will probably never know.

There are horses grazing in the fields from the stables nearby, where people come for riding lessons. Strange to think that they head further into the centre of the city from the outer suburbs to participate in countryside activities.

And this open space is very much appreciated by walkers, runners and cyclists who follow the paths that now crisscross the marsh.

Every year on the 13th September there is the ceremony of Beating the Bounds, an ancient ritual which has been revived – the demonstration that people will continue to defend this common land.

The marsh may be visited over and over again and there is always something different to notice – sweet peas and mallow flowering along the wayside or trees that grow in unique shapes.


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