3. Rye House to Broxbourne
Walks along the New River
By Nicholas Blatchley
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After Rye House, the path now continues along the left bank, with housing continuing on the right and industrial estates taking over to the left. A bridge takes Farm Lane across — this sounds an idyllic name until you discover that it used to be Sewage Farm Lane. The stretch beyond seems to be one of the favourite places for swans, and walking along the path through the year allows the sight of small balls of brown feathers growing to inquisitive cygnets and then acquiring their proud white plumage.
After the busy Essex Road, leading up to Hoddesdon’s main industrial area, the river passes the Hoddesdon Pumping Station, built in 1866 to raise water from a well 385 feet deep. There are allotments on the right, saved a couple of years ago from a plan to develop the land, and then trees hiding houses and industry on both sides, until after the Conduit Lane bridge when the left opens out into a magnificent view across the Lea Valley. The beautiful lake, like most of the lakes along the Lea, is a former gravel pit.
The river winds along the side of the valley, keeping to the 100 foot contour — an example of Myddelton’s meticulous engineering, although the embankment forming an aqueduct over the Spitalbrook is the first of several later additions. Myddelton’s original course turned west and crossed the brook further up.
The embankment continues into Broxbourne, passing the impressive Broxbourne Pumping Station, built in 1886, and a davit to lower maintenance craft onto the water. It also overlooks Broxbourne Station on the left, before reaching Station Road.