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article imageSights of spring along a Hertfordshire waterway Special

By Tim Sandle     Mar 31, 2016 in Environment
Stanstead - Spring, as they say, has sprung and what better time to explore the delights of the English countryside? Digital Journal's London-based reporter takes a wander along the River Lee.
The River Lee (sometimes spelled as Lea), together with the River Stort, connects the English towns of Hertford and Bishop’s Stortford together. The rivers finally merge into the River Thames.
The section visited in this photo essay was the stretch between the village of Stanstead Abbotts and the town of Ware, in Hertfordshire. It is a great place for a healthy wander.
A woman in the distance  walking along the side of the River Lee.
A woman in the distance, walking along the side of the River Lee.
The rivers are of historic importance, and Viking longships once sailed up the old River Lea over 1000 years ago. The River Lee flows through the old brewing and malting center of Ware, and consequently transport by water was for many years a significant industry based there. Barley was transported into Ware, and malt out via the river.
Various canal boats bob gently on the River Lee.
Various canal boats bob gently on the River Lee.
Today different types of boats can be found along the river. A varied collection are moored at the Lee Valley Marina. The marina is just north of the confluence of the Rivers Stort and Lee and is connected to the rest of the national inland waterway system by the Hertford Union Canal and the River Thames.
Two motor boats  moored near someone s house  are representative of the types found in the marina.
Two motor boats, moored near someone's house, are representative of the types found in the marina.
Part of the marina  with a selection of boats waiting to be taken out.
Part of the marina, with a selection of boats waiting to be taken out.
The most common type of boat in the area is the canal boat (a long, narrow boat.) Sometimes the word barge is erroneously used (barges are much bigger boats, designed to transport cargo.)
A classic canal boat (or narrowboat) along the River Lee.
A classic canal boat (or narrowboat) along the River Lee.
Some boats are quite homely, containing small gardens atop:
A slight weathered canal boat  brought to life with a small garden atop.
A slight weathered canal boat, brought to life with a small garden atop.
And little touches inside:
A peak inside one of the canal boats  where a playful puppet hangs in the window.
A peak inside one of the canal boats, where a playful puppet hangs in the window.
Locks have been along the river since the 17th century. Locks are designed to allow boats to avoid shallow stretches and to improve navigation.
A lock along the River Lee  close to Stanstead.
A lock along the River Lee, close to Stanstead.
Stanstead Lock (Number 4) incorporates a rare example of a swing-bridge, has the reputation of being one of England's most difficult to negotiate.
A close-up of Stanstead Lock (No. 4).
A close-up of Stanstead Lock (No. 4).
Any boat that negotiates the tricky lock is greeted with an impressive sight.
A view of the River Lee  just after lock number 4.
A view of the River Lee, just after lock number 4.
Alongside the lock is an old gatekeeper's cottage. The building is impressive, and an example of Victorian brickwork.
The lock-keeper s house is located on an island formed by a section of the River Lee Flood Relief Ch...
The lock-keeper's house is located on an island formed by a section of the River Lee Flood Relief Channel that flows through the automatic sluice gate adjacent to the lock.
Near lock number 4 is a clubhouse.
Stanstead Lock (No4) is a lock on the River Lee Navigation close to the villages of Stanstead Abbott...
Stanstead Lock (No4) is a lock on the River Lee Navigation close to the villages of Stanstead Abbotts and St Margarets.
Alongside the river, the bank is blazing with spring colors.
Bankside along the River Lee  the spring colors from bushes and berries begins to emerge.
Bankside along the River Lee, the spring colors from bushes and berries begins to emerge.
And to odd horse or two.
Grazing horses close to the River Lee in Hertfordshire  England.
Grazing horses close to the River Lee in Hertfordshire, England.
There is plenty of wildlife along the river, such as this mallard duck. The mallard is a dabbling duck. The male birds (drakes) have a glossy green head and are grey on wings and belly.
The mallard duck. The name mallard is derived from the Old French malart or mallart  wild drake.
The mallard duck. The name mallard is derived from the Old French malart or mallart "wild drake."
Another common water bird is the moorhen. These are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail family. There are also several pairs of swans and Canada geese.
The Canada goose - a large goose  with a distinctive black head and neck and large white throat patc...
The Canada goose - a large goose, with a distinctive black head and neck and large white throat patch.
Close to the river is a nature reserve, called Amwell.
This beautiful corner of Hertfordshire has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SS...
This beautiful corner of Hertfordshire has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area and a Ramsar wetland site of international importance.
Amwell Nature Reserve is situated south of Ware and is managed by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust...
Amwell Nature Reserve is situated south of Ware and is managed by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust.
The nature reserve is a former gravel pit in the Lee Valley near Ware. It supports internationally important numbers of wintering wildfowl, along with outstanding communities of breeding birds and of dragonflies and damselflies.
Amwell is also a brilliant place for a relaxing stroll by lakes and ponds  through open grasslands a...
Amwell is also a brilliant place for a relaxing stroll by lakes and ponds, through open grasslands and leafy woods.
The River Lee is one of the largest rivers in London and the easternmost major tributary of the Thames.
A shot of the River Lee in springtime.
A shot of the River Lee in springtime.
The walk along the canal is as relaxing as it is picturesque, well worth a wander if you ever visit the area.
An alternative view of the riverside.
An alternative view of the riverside.
More about river lee, Canal, Spring, Wildlife
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