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Your guide to... Walthamstow

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Ever fallen asleep on the Victoria line and ended up in Walthamstow? Us too. While it might seem like the back end of nowhere, this leafy eastern suburb has become a popular neighbourhood in its own right, thanks to its great transport and villagey vibes.

Over the years, E17 has been home to famous residents including Lethal Bizzle and East 17 (get it?) – so what is it that makes Walthamstow so special? Read on.

How do I get there?

Right at the end of the Victoria line. It might look far away, but it’s London’s speediest line – you can get from Walthamstow Central to Brixton (the other end) in just 35 mins. There’s also an Overground station a five minute walk away (Walthamstow Queen’s Road) and a big bus station.

What is there to do?

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Walthamstow has a real mix of activities on offer – from the cultural to the quirky. It’s home to the William Morris Art Gallery, and it’s named after a Walthamstow resident who opened the gallery in his old home. It’s full of furniture, ceramics, wallpaper and textiles designed by William Morris himself, and the building itself is a beautiful Georgian construction dating back to 1744. Visit to coo over the displays, or to enjoy a cold one in the glass Tea Room.

If city life gets you down, a visit to Walthamstow Wetlands will put a spring in your step. It’s an absolutely huge nature reserve with 10 large reservoirs and plenty of views to snap on your ‘gram. There’s also paths for runners and cyclists, loads of birds to scope out and a little café with excellent artisan baked goods.

The phrase “doing it for the ‘gram” gets a whole new meaning at God’s Own Junkyard. This neon treasure chest on an industrial estate showcases late artist Chris Bracey’s personal collection of work. Expect heaps of neon signs, statement slogans, and to leave wondering how much the electricity bill sets them back…

And then there’s Walthamstow Market – allegedly the longest in Europe, with 1km of traders selling everything from food to antiques. Saturday is the day to go to make the most of the shopping, as extra traders show up to flog antiques or handmade goods, but Sunday is prime time if you’re after some good food. A farmers’ market takes over from 10am-2pm, where you can feast on artisanal cheese, delicious sausages and more.

Where do I eat?

If there’s one thing you should try in Walthamstow, it’s pie and mash. E17 is home to one of London’s oldest eel, pie and mash shops, L. Manze, that was awarded a Grade II listing in 2013 to protect its heritage. The shop opened its doors in 1929, and has been serving luscious mince pies ever since in truly retro surroundings. In a word: iconic.

If pizza is your pie of choice, Walthamstow’s still got you. One of the area – and London’s – best can be found at Yard Sale on Hoe Street. Expect fresh ingredients and inventive topping combos – tenderstem broccoli, manchego, pine nuts and garlic oil is a personal favourite. And don’t forget a generous side order of “Holy F**K” hot sauce for your crusts…

Head to Sodo for sourdough pizza, craft beers and natural wine. This place even does a brunch that’ll end your hangover breakfast conundrums – you’ll find both egg dishes and breakfast pizza on the menu. #winner.

Take a trip to the Mediterranean at Gokyuzu, an awesome Turkish restaurant in Southend Road. Here you’ll find a charcoal grill with succulent kebabs, Turkish pide (pizza), mezes, mixed platters and very generous portions. Don your stretchiest trousers and get stuck in.

If you’ve only got time to visit one place, though, make it Eat 17. Based in the heart of the seriously quaint Walthamstow Village, this restaurant promises honest British food and a relaxed, unpretentious setting. The menu is streamlined but delicious, with dishes including roast duck breast with bbq red cabbage, flat iron steak with burnt leeks, BBQ whole plaice with lemon butter, and chocolate melting pudding for dessert. But the real winner? Bacon jam – it was created at Eat 17, and apparently it’s award-winning. Better see what the fuss is about…

And the drinks?

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Walthamstow does traditional boozers seriously well. Ye Olde Rose & Crown is one of the best, with high ceilings, a pool table, live music and a theatre upstairs. The Chequers is one to try for a bargain – on Mondays you can get a pie and a pint for a tenner, and it’s got a fairy-lit courtyard that’s the perfect setting for lazy summer drinks. Or try The Queen’s Arms if you fancy a more upscale, gastropub vibe.

But truthfully, beer is done best at Wild Card Brewery, a bar and micro-brewery serving up bottled, cask beers and kegs in a warehouse-style space. The street food is decent too.

But if we could only drink in one place in E17, we’d choose Mother’s Ruin every time. Its industrial estate setting doesn’t exactly scream glamorous, but inside you’ll find a “Gin Palace” – with more than 80 varieties of the good stuff to choose from, and endless cocktail combinations. Hangover: pending.

Image credits: pahudson, londonmatt, julesfoto, Andrew H.

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