Luxborough Lakes, by Sam Clark
I've lived in Buckhurst Hill since 1993 and attended Buckhurst Hill Community Primary School (BHCPS). Walking to school, I was always intrigued by the fenced off and private land on the other side of the River Roding. I'd wondered what was there and why I couldn't go and visit. Progressing to West Hatch in 2003, my interest in the area continued as it was still on my way to school and by this time, I'd learnt that behind the graffitied gates there were some lakes.
I always thought that it would be great if the lakes were open to local people. The lakes were originally open to the public but closed over 33 years ago. They were formed with the construction of the M11 in the 1970s between Redbridge and Loughton. Originally they were two lakes but they have now merged into one lake covering an area of over 20 acres, including a main lake and a lagoon.
Over the years, I heard many stories about the lakes which ignited my interest. I had been provided some photos of the lakes from the mid- 80s taken from the top of Hornbeam House and told stories of school children using the lake for cross country running and of a crane located in the middle.
In 2015, I was elected as a Parish Councillor in Buckhurst Hill East. I decided to write an article for the Parish Magazine about the lakes and my desire to have them opened. I also started a Facebook group with the goal of increasing awareness of the lakes locally, Friends of Luxborough Lake, which, at the time of writing, has 1,099 members and continues to grow. I wasn't expecting a response from my article, but then I received a message from the Parish Offices that the owner of the lake, Danny, wanted to get in contact with me.
This was in 2017 and over the subsequent years following several enjoyable and informative meetings and many emails Danny very kindly agreed to open the lakes to the public from 17 April 2021. I think Danny was surprised at the number of local people who turned up and the positive responses he received.
Luxborough Lakes are currently open to walk around on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays between 9am and 6pm. Danny is charging a £2 cash entry fee (free for children and dogs) which goes towards the maintenance of the area. In the near future, Danny wants to be in a position to open the lakes 7 days a week with an annual subscription for regular visitors. During the summer holidays, he is looking to organise activities for local kids including Aqua Splash.
Open Water Swimming started at the lakes from 12 April, run by BeEndurance Open Water Swimming and it is also possible to fish the lake with a day pass coming in at £10 a rod, and wild camp.
The entrance is located at the bottom of Luxborough Lane, Chigwell, and can be accessed from Buckhurst Hill by crossing the playing fields behind Hornbeam Road and following the tube embankment, keeping it on your right until you reach the river. Turn right under the railway, cross the river via the footbridge and turn immediately left. The entrance is marked by two big red doors. It can also be found on Google Maps as Luxborough Lakes.
In many respects, access to the lakes has been something I've wanted to achieve since I was at Primary School. It would be great if we could have regular access to the lakes for local people whilst maintaining the unspoilt beauty of the area. Danny has come up with lots of positive ideas for ways in which the lakes might be used responsibly which I think will benefit the local community. I really enjoy walking around Luxborough Lakes every weekend - an area I've wanted to be open since 1997. Having finally achieved my goal, I hope local residents also now get the opportunity to enjoy Luxborough Lakes.