The Rivers Lee & Stort together form a navigational cul-de-sac, from Limehouse Basin to Hertford on the River Lee, and to Bishops Stortford on the River Stort. They can only be reached from the rest of the waterways network by boating through London. This has the strange effect of making the Lee and Stort a “weekenders” cruiseway. During the week, it’s almost deserted. This was exemplified by our journey. Leaving Limehouse one gloriously sunny Monday morning and travelling North through one of the most densely populated and heavily industrialised places in Europe … we hardly saw a soul. Almost immediately, we found ourselves in a green landscape. Now we understood what Robert Aikman meant when he wrote of waterways extending green fingers into our cities. Once beyond the M25, these rivers become very beautiful and compare favourably with the finest in Britain. The Lea Valley was the first area of Britain to be declared a National Park in 1966. The authority has achieved a remarkable success in improving the water quality, in providing safe long term habitats for wildlife and have done so while making it accessible for everybody.