The River Lee runs through London from its source near Luton all the way to the Thames at Stratford.
A green corridor running vertically north to south, the Lee Valley includes a number of country parks, nature reserves and heritage sites.
There is a huge range of family activities to choose from, not least experiencing the place where the main action at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games took place.
Lee Valley and the Olympic Park
The Lower Lee Valley underwent a major development to transform it into the centrepiece of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. A superb range of sports facilities, transport links and housing, intertwined with the waterways of the Lower Lee Valley, is left as a legacy after the Games.
Redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is ongoing following the Games, and this is due to culminate in the permanent re-opening of the Olympic Stadium in 2016. Find out more by taking a guided walk around the outside of Olympic Park.
Lee Valley Sights & Activities
The leafy and secluded Lee Valley is popular with walkers, providing a relaxing green space hidden away from the London sprawl. Visitors to the area can enjoy a waterside picnic, visit some of the historic local attractions or simply take an unhurried ramble any weekend of the year.
Unparalleled sporting opportunities exist right across the Lee Valley. Take the whole family for a thrilling day of riding, cycling or white water rafting.
The River Lee is 28 miles (45km) long, and the Lee Valley area is geographically very large. Therefore we have mentioned these local attractions in order, from the southernmost tip of the valley northwards.
Three Mills Island
When exploring the Lee Valley area, a great place to begin is Three Mills Island, surrounded by three channels of the River Lee. Here you will find the oldest and largest tidal mill in the country, the scenic House Mill, built in 1776. The Grade I listed Mill is open for guided tours every Sunday (£3) from May to October, and on the first Sundays of March, April and December. Refreshments are available from the Miller's House Cafe. And kids will love the new Wild Kingdom Playspace.
Three Mills has also become famous in the film world with the presence of the 3 Mills Studio. Movies such as Sherlock Holmes 2 and Attack the Block were filmed here, while the recording studios are familiar to stars such as Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas.
Contemporary Art at The Nunnery Gallery
To the west of Three Mills on the Bow Road is contemporary art gallery The Nunnery. Part of the Bow Arts Trust, the gallery is a good place to see current contemporary work across all disciplines of the visual arts.
The Abbey Mills Pumping Station lies just north of Three Mills. Built in the 1860s, it was designed in an elaborate gothic style, leading to its description as the "Cathedral of Sewage". It is a spectacular sight, and has a twin on the south side of the river at Crossness.
The Great Outdoors
Just beyond the Hackney Marsh is the WaterWorks Nature Reserve, which is perfect for a day out. You can see more than 25 species of bird from one of London's largest bird hides, or take a self-guided tour to discover a wealth of plant and insect life.
The upper reaches of the Lee Valley are teeming with outstanding sporting facilities for the whole family. Try a huge range of activities at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre, go ice-skating and horse riding or get an adrenalin rush at the Lee Valley White Water Centre.
Waltham Abbey Area
The historic Waltham Abbey Church is just outside the M25. In the town of the same name, the abbey dates from the 11th century and is where King Harold is reputed to have been buried. The nave of the original abbey church is in use today and makes for a fascinating stop-off if you're in the area.
The Royal Gunpowder Mills occupy a huge area of land just outside Waltham Abbey. The mills were established during the 17th century and developed an international reputation for the production of gunpowder. In this superb interactive park you can learn about the history of explosives, browse the exhibitions or take a Land Train Tour around the site. The Mills are open to the public each weekend over the summer.
Children will enjoy the Lee Valley Park Farms, which offer animal petting and fun activities as well as the chance to see a working farm.
Getting There and More Information
See our travel section to plan your journey to Lee Valley and the Olympic Park.