Approximately 6.5 miles / 10.5 Km (about two and a quarter hours)

Click to go to an interactive version of this map

Starting at Manor Park, this linear walk goes to Valentines Park in Ilford, via Wanstead Flats and Wanstead Park. The walk provides an opportunity to contrast this more modest House and its Park with its larger and more fashionable neighbour.  It looks at it’s history as a house and as a municipal park. The walk finishes at Gants Hill or Ilford Stations.

You can follow the walk directly from your phone. Directions are in black, historical notes are in dark red. There are also links that lead to further information about points of interest.

If you don't want to follow the walk on your phone, you can download a printable PDF version of this walk guide



WAY POINT 1 - Manor Park Station

Turn left out of Manor Park Station and cross Whitta Road.  Proceed along Forest Drive, walking past a small block of flats and Victorian Villas. Over the road on the right is Manor Park Flats, the most southerly point of Epping Forest.

Cross over Capel Road, and then immediately turn left onto Wanstead Flats. Proceed to the nearby information board at a junction of paths. 

Take the broader of the two paths immediately to the right of the information board, heading across the Flats diagonally away from the road. As you follow the path, two blocks of flats should become visible ahead on the horizon. Continue walking ahead, until the Alexandra Lake is on your right. 

Historical Note 
Alexandra Lake was built at the very beginning of the 20th century (approx. 1906/7) to give work to unemployed men, under the direction of the West Ham Distress Committee. There was a lot of unemployment at the time, and dock workers were only employed by the day, so schemes were set up to give men work (Another example is Hollow Ponds on Leyton Flats, which was built around the same time as part of a similar scheme).

The Alexandra Lake was named after Alexandra of Denmark, the Queen Consort of King Edward VII.

Link to more information about the Alexandra Lake

Carry on walking across the Flats, keeping parallel with the Aldersbrook Road. On the far side of the Flats is Capel road marking the eastern boundary of Victorian London. To your right is the Edwardian Aldersbrook estate the first of successive twentieth century expansions into Essex.

Eventually, on the right, you will come to some houses (used by City of London employees) and some sheds. 

Historical Note
The white painted wooden shed was used by anti-aircraft gun crews during World War II.  It is now used as storage by the playing fields staff. The gun crews used a gun emplacement which was further on to the Flats.

Next to the white hut, towards the Aldersbrook Road, is a red brick building. This is also now used as storage, but originally was built as a decontamination building, to be used in case of a German gas attack. 

After you pass these buildings you will come to a walled area containing a few houses, and also a petrol station. Follow the wall around, keeping it on your right.

Historical Note
The petrol station was the site of Aldersbrook Farm (parts of the wall that you can see are from the wall around the farm house), which was re-sited here from its original location when The City of London Cemetery was built in 1854. In the early 20th century, when motor vehicles started to become common, the farm installed petrol pumps outside the farmhouse.

Aldersbrook Farm - early 20th century. 
Note the petrol pump on the right. 
Photo from Layers of London
credited to Mark Gorman.

You will arrive at Aldersbrook Road with the petrol station on your right.  Cross over the road at the pedestrian crossing, turn left and then turn right into Park Road.


At the end of Park Road, continue straight ahead through gate 171 into Wanstead Park. Immediately turn right and follow a path that keeps parallel to Northumberland Avenue on your right.  At the end of the path, emerge on to Northumberland Avenue.  Turn left and after a few metres enter the park gate on your left (Gate 172).

Immediately through the gate, turn sharply right and follow the path between the fence that separates the park from the Aldersbrook Estate on the right, and the Perch Pond on your left.

At the end of the lake you pass the Aldersbrook Riding Stables to your right.  Continue ahead, at first downhill. Shortly after the path flattens, go right through Gate 173. You will pass briefly through trees, before turning left on a metalled cycle path. Continue on this path until you cross a bridge over the River Roding.



After crossing the river, turn right, following the waymarked cycle route (Q6) towards Valentines Park. 

The path takes you over the A406 after which you descend into a small park. Cross over Wanstead Park Road, and proceed directly ahead into Exeter Gardens. 

Take the left fork into Rochester Gardens and at the end cross The Drive to St Andrew’s Church.

Historical Note
The foundation stone of St Andrew’s was laid on 28 April 1923 and the church opened in 1924.  The church was built to serve the fast growing suburban communities linked to London by the new Eastern Avenue and the expanded Central Line. It was designed by Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946) and is now Grade II listed. Sir Herbert Baker designed many church and public buildings in South Africa and in the United Kingdom, examples include the Catholic Cathederal in Pretoria (which has some design features in common with St Andrew's), and also South Africa House and India House 
in London.

Turn right into St Andrews Road, and then, at the end, right into Cranbrook Rise. At the junction with Cranbrook Road turn right, and after a short distance, cross the road and then turn left into Bethell Avenue. Continue towards the gates of Valentines Park on Emerson Road, straight ahead.


Valentines Mansion around 1900


Historical Note
Valentines Park sits on around 130 acres of land and is the largest green space in the London Borough of Redbridge. Valentines Park was voted one of the ten best parks in Britain in 2019.

The park was originally the grounds of Valentines Mansion, a residence built in 1696 for Elizabeth, Lady Tillotson, the widow of John Tillotson, who had been the Archbishop of Canterbury.

For twenty years until around 1780 it was the family home of Sir Charles Raymond who made money from interests in the East India Company.  He was a ship owner who later became a banker. 

The London Borough of Ilford (later to become Redbridge) acquired the house and grounds, plus a little more land and created a public park.

Link to more information about Valentines House and Park

Pass into the park and turn left onto the main path leading towards Valentines Mansion. 

Turn left into the gardens surrounding the Mansion, and head towards a large carved wooden owl. Two information boards one just to your left and another further left describe the history of the house, its grounds, and the park. ,

After the second information board, go left around the back of the Mansion, and follow the path around back to the owl.

To your right is the Garden Courtyard Café which has pleasant surroundings, inside the original kitchen garden. Keeping the external garden wall to your right, head for the Long Water, passing a small area of planting opened by the Queen in 2012. 

At the Long Water, which is laid out with grottos at either end in the Rococo style of 1740/60, turn right along the wall of the enclosed gardens.

The Long Water

Link to further information about the history of Valentines Park

Proceed to the far grotto that separates the Long Water from the Fish Pond lake. Turn left over a bridge, and then follow the shoreline of the lake to your right on a path a few yards in from the water.

At the end of the Fish Pond, continue straight ahead through a gap in the low railings.

Walk ahead into a large area of open grass, marked out as a cricket field. Proceed passing changing rooms on your left keeping the railings and a small stream on your right. 

At the end of the railings, turn right onto a broad path with an avenue of trees. This leads to the park café on your right. 

Proceed directly ahead on the left of the two parallel paths and fork further left after a few yards, towards the Boating Lake.

Turn left across a bridge over the watercourse that feeds the lake.

Historical Note
The watercourse that you have walked over is the Cran Brook, from which the Cranbrook area and the Cranbrook Road derive their names.  It rises near Barkingside, but is now mostly underground. It appears above ground in the north eastern part of the park. It then runs into the Boating Lake.

At the bottom of the Boating Lake, turn right towards the Clock Tower.

Just before you get to the Clock Tower on your left, you can see the Cran Brook flowing out of the Lake, down a gully towards Cranbrook Road.

Historical Note
The Cran Brook flows out of the park and beneath Cranbrook Road, appearing briefly on the opposite side of the road.  After this is flows underground, roughly south west. It finally flows into the east side of the Roding, about 600 metres above where the Alders Brook flows into it from the west side.

Continue around the bottom section of the boating lake, with the Clock Tower on your left, and then the Boat House on your right.

Historical Note
The Clock Tower commemorates the opening of the original Ilford Central Park in 1899 and was given by a Mr W P Griggs Esq of Cranbrook Park. 

Keep going in the same direction to reach the original main park entrance onto Cranbrook Road. There is an information board here describing the history of the park. 

Turn right up Bandstand Avenue. On your left is Ilford Cricket Club which hosted Essex County matches for many years until 2002. 

Historical Note
County Cricket was first played at Valentine's Park in Ilford in 1922 and a pavilion was completed a year later after Mrs Ingleby, who owned 136 acres of land surrounding it, donated the venue to Ilford CC. The first ever county match to be played on a Sunday was played there on 15 May 1966 between Essex and Somerset, with 6000 spectators attending.

Go through the bandstand area surrounded with a circular hedge, and then fork left onto a path towards the tennis courts and a large children’s playground.  Continue on with the tennis courts on your left and and playground on your right. You will pass an outdoor gym on your left. Continue on until you arrive back at the main gates on Emerson Road.

Continue past the gates towards the mansion. Passing the Mansion on your left notice the Ha Ha dating from 1870, separating the gardens from the main park. It is described by an information board at the far end. 

At the Long Water, turn left through an archway in the brick wall to enter the two walled gardens. In the first garden, on the wall to the left (opposite the cafe entrance) are information displays exploring the influence of Wanstead House on the development of the Valentines Mansion and gardens. Exiting via the second garden, proceed ahead, initially with the water on your right to aim towards a gate onto Cranbrook Road ahead and slightly right.


You can choose to end the walk at either Gants Hill or Ilford stations.


To return to Gants Hill Tube station:

Turn right out of the gate and proceed along Cranbrook Road towards Gants Hill Tube station where there are lots of cafes and restaurants.

Historical Note
Gants Hill Station was built in the 1930’s and designed by Charles Holden. The London Passenger Transport Board had earlier provided some advice to assist in the construction of the Moscow Metro, so it was decided to build Gants Hill station on a similar design, with the ticket hall built below ground level. Charles Holden designed many other London tube stations in the 1920's and 1930's. Find out more about him by following this link

Gants Hill Tube Station


To return to Ilford Rail station:

Turn left along Cranbrook Road towards Ilford railway station. On the left hand side of the road, a little before Ilford station is The Long Spoon of Ilford pub (Wetherspoons).  There are also a number of restaurants and cafes available around here.

Historical Note
The Long Spoon of Ilford pub celebrates Will Kemp, a comic actor who worked with William Shakespeare. There is a sculpture of Will in the entrance lobby. Will Kemp (or Kempe) is famous for his “Nine Dayes Wonder'' a pamphlet that he wrote in 1600, in which he describes dancing from London to Norwich in nine days. Kemp passed through Ilford on the first day of his dance and stopped at an inn called “The Long Spoon''.  The Long Spoon was a measure of ale (about two pints) that was used at the inn.  It’s name derives from the saying “He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon”.

Will Kemp dancing on his ‘Nine Dayes Wonder’,
with Thomas Slye, his tabourer
(a person that playsa drum with one hand
 and plays a pipe with the other hand,
to accompany the dancing).

Link to more information about Will Kemp

You can read the pamphlet Nine Dayes Wonder here




Send us your feedback!
Link to feedback form

Let us know if you enjoyed the walk and if you have any other feedback we could use to improve it.

Russell & Paul