This post is part of my London Neighbourhood Guides series. Fancy visiting another area of London? Check out my other guides here, which all include information regarding the sights, history, charm, food and drinks of the area you’re curious about.
Living in northeast London, I always had this tendency to travel southwest towards the central parts of London. Everything is always focused on downtown — the theatre life of Soho, the fancy restaurants of Marylebone, the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus. However, this year, in light of my effort to stay away from humans as much as possible (thanks, Covid), I have now finally made many more adventures further north or west of where I live. And to my complete surprise, I found that I love those areas. One such area is Walthamstow. It’s within the Borough of Waltham Forest with the postcode E17 and it’s definitely worth everyone’s time.
So, where to start? We started the day by taking the overground to Wood Street station. Wood Street is a lively high street with tons of beautiful street art, largely due to Wood Street Walls. It was created with the local community in mind, providing artists with public spaces to showcase their work in and around E17. There are several beautiful pieces, though I must say my favourite is the flowery one on the sidewall of The Flower Pot.
We even got to see some art being made on the spot, which is always such a treat. Wood Street is also a great place to just pop into whatever shop interests you. For example, if you’re into plants and gardening, check out Lancasters. It has an interesting history too! Back in the late 1910s, Edward J Lancaster began supplying coal to the residents of Walthamstow, turning into a registered company in the 60s. The business moved to Wood Street in 1983 and evolved from a coal supplier to a large garden centre.
Or, you could wander around the Georgian Village, an indoor market with several shops and craft workshops.
We walked north along Wood Street until we reached Forest Road where we swung left to loop around to downtown Walthamstow, the lively centre of the borough. It’s proper urban but is on the fringes of the city with easy access to large green spaces. I’ll write a blog post soon on these spaces because they deserve a whole spiel of their own! Otherwise, Walthamstow Central has plenty to keep you occupied.
One of my favourite stops of the day was Saw Chocolate. They make and sell handcrafted artisan chocolates, made in Walthamstow from Belgian chocolate. It’s a tiny, brightly coloured shop full of wonders. They have some amazing flavours, but my hands-down favourite was the lemonade dark chocolate truffle. I bought some chocolate bars for friends, including the ‘Alf &’Alf Bar and the Peanut Bar, but that truffle was just for me. The shell is made from dark chocolate but the filling is white chocolate with lemon and lemonade zing flavours.
Once we passed the Walthamstow Central tube stop, we made a left and landed in Walthamstow Village. This was the small village centre of the town, being the oldest part of Walthamstow. Today, it is a charming and exciting area full of lovely restaurants, pubs and shops.
In the Village, I highly recommend Froth & Rind, a fine cheese and craft beer shop. Yes, you can get all sorts of great cheese, but what I’m here to talk about are the toasties! Froth & Rind offer several options, including cheddar with onion chutney or spiced pear chutney, goats cheese with chilli jam, blue cheese with fig jam, Emmental with chorizo, brie with fig jam or even raclette with serrano ham. We went for the blue cheese and it was simply divine.
Ravenswood Industrial Estate
Leaving the lovely world of the Village, we visited a place that was quite the opposite: the Ravenswood Industrial Estate. At first glance, it looks like any other industrial estate, but if you delve a little deeper you’ll realise that this is not your ordinary handyman stop.
Within the estate is a now-famous attraction called God’s Own Junkyard. It’s an art gallery of sorts, showcasing the neon artistry of Chris Bracey. It also happens to have the largest stock of vintage neons and signs in Europe.
Also in the Estate are two breweries. There’s Pillar’s Brewery and there’s also Wild Card Brewery, which started brewing at this location but then moved their operations to another spot in Walthamstow (about two miles away). However, they kept their space in the Estate as a taproom calling it The Barrel Store. Their beer is great (my fave is their lager) and there’s something for everyone, so give it a go!
We weren’t quite finished with our day out just yet. In fact, we were ready for a snack and so turned to a community I had researched before visiting Walthamstow. There is a sizeable Portuguese community in the area, and so I was on the hunt for some Portuguese ingredients and treats.
We first went to Made in Portugal, a traditional-as-it-gets bar. It’s also a mini grocery store, offering some imports. We ended purchasing shoestring crisps and salted cod to make the Portuguese dish, Bacalhau à Brás. We also grabbed a sandwich and a cod croquette for takeaway.
We then went to another Portuguese spot, Bom Pecado, for coffee and natas.
I couldn’t imagine a perfect ending a really, truly perfect day. Walthamstow is truly underrated, though I know the residents know how lucky they have it. I can’t wait to keep on exploring this unique and vibrant area. I’ll definitely be swinging by for those lemonade truffles and, of course, a nata or two.
Looking for more London days out? How about spending the day exploring Camden?