With one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the city, the London borough of Waltham Forest has a little bit of everything.
Divide Waltham Forest along the North Circular Road and you will find yourself with two polar opposites – high rise apartment blocks and busy inner-city living in the south while the north half comprises stately homes, extensive parks and gardens and a generally quieter pace of life. The west of the borough is lined with reservoirs, a sight not often seen in central London.
Twelve districts join to form Waltham Forest, including Baker’s Arms, Chingford, Hale End, Leytonstone and Walthamstow. This borough really is a mixed bag of people and places, which is what makes the area so enticing. Few other boroughs of London offer this level of cultural diversity right on your doorstep.
Walthamstow Village is considered one of the main hubs of the borough with a range of bars, restaurants and shops as well as museums, theatres and other cultural centres.
On a Map
History of Walthamstow Forest
Humans have settled in Waltham Forest for centuries with many remains from the Stone Age and Roman times having been discovered. The borough was formed in 1965 with the amalgamation of Chingford, Leyton and Walthamstow, and was named after the Epping Forest that forms part of the borough in the north.
Getting to Waltham Forest
Located in the north east of Greater London, Waltham Forest is very well connected with the city centre. Both the Central and Victoria lines of the Underground run through the borough, plus there are Overground services on the Gospel Oak to Barking and Greater Anglia lines. There are an extensive number of bus connections to the city centre as well.
Cost of Living
The cost of renting or buying a property within Waltham Forest varies greatly depending on which part of the borough you are searching in. You can find some very affordable apartments in Walthamstow as well as pricier and more grandiose Victorian homes around Epping Forest.
Generally speaking the area is a hot spot for families and young professionals wanting a slightly bigger property for less money. And while prices are on the rise (property prices in Walthamstow have increased by 22% over the last year), it is still an affordable option that is close to the city centre.
Resraurants and Bars in Waltham Forest
This café is a beautiful slice of Scandinavia in the heart of Waltham Forest. When you want to feel like you live in an Oh Comely magazine, head to Bygga Bo for some excellent coffee, delicious pastries and freshly prepared salads and open sandwiches. All of their lunches are made in house with local ingredients. There is also a small shop selling stylish homeware and art made in Scandinavia.
Address: 8 Chingford Road, Walthamstow, E17 4PJ
Phone: 0208 527 3652
Pretend you’re on holiday in Portugal with a meal at The Windmill. You can choose from a tapas style menu or full main courses and all of the food is fresh and flavoursome. They have some great value lunch deals that are worth checking out.
Address: 18 High Street, Walthamstow, E17 7LD
Phone: 0208 521 8544
You may not be able to eat in, but you can definitely take away one (or many) of ELS’s super tasty sausages. You will find ELS sausages in some of London’s hippest cafés and restaurants and for a fraction of the price you could buy some to cook at home. And they don’t just sell sausages – your inner meat lover will be overwhelmed by the meaty options available.
Address: 57 Orford Road, E17 9NJ
Phone: 0208 520 4060
This pub loves cats, so don’t be surprised if you find a furry creature curled up on your lap while you enjoy a pint or two. The Nag’s Head is a local favourite located in Walthamstow Village, selling a great range of ales and some top-notch food too. Every Sunday afternoon from 5.30pm there is live jazz – a great way to finish off your weekend.
Address: 9 Orford Road, Walthamstow Village, E17 9LP
Phone: 0208 520 9709
Look after your inner chi at the Hornbeam, a community café and environment centre selling organic vegetarian food and running a range of workshops and activities. This place is all about buying local, growing your own and helping your local community to do good things. The centre is supported by volunteers and the people who use the centre – it’s a caring, sharing, happy place and a great initiative to get involved with.
Address: 458 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 9AH
Phone: 0208558 6880
Things to do in Waltham Forest
Epping Forest is almost two and a half hectares of ancient woodland, bogs, heaths, ponds and grassy fields, all situated at the northern tip of Waltham Forest. This beautiful area is a popular weekend spot for families and is one of the best ecological sites in the UK with a wide range of wildlife. It is also popular with mountain bikers and horse riders and you can go fishing in 24 of the forest’s lakes. Queen Elizabeth’s hunting lodge is located within the forest and is open to the public.
The Wood Street indoor market is a great addition to the area with over 25 stores selling clothing, home wares, jewellery and antiques. It is also home to Scrolls and Shells, a cake decorator who has been working in the art of marzipan icing since the 1970s. This market is a little bit kitsche and is sure to be the next hipster paradise.
Address: 98 - 100 Wood Street, Walthamstow, E17 3HX
Grab your rod and reel and head to the Walthamstow reservoirs for a day of fishing. Numerous reservoirs line the west of the borough and are a popular place for walkers and joggers. You can purchase a permit to go fishing during set periods of the year. This is also a great place to do bird watching as many water birds have made these reservoirs their homes.
For more information about the reservoirs and to purchase fishing permits, visit the Thames Water website.
We included this fantastic food, furniture and antique market in our guide to Walthamstow. We just love it so much we thought we’d mention it again! It stretches over approximately one kilometre of Walthamstow High Street and every Sunday from 10am to 2pm it becomes a farmers market. It's definitely worth checking out.
Address: Walthamstow High Street