Step off the tube in East London's Walthamstow. You’re in the heart of London, but a world away. What is this leafy wonderland, with its independent shops, artisan food and street art? It’s peaceful but vibrant. Quietly cultured. It suits you. You can have good times here, achieve great things. You may even start calling it ‘home’.
With great transport links to London Metropolitan Uni (15 mins), UCL (20 mins) and King’s College London (30 mins) as well as tonnes of other unis across the capital, a vibrant and diverse community, hundreds of independent businesses and a giant nature reserve... Walthamstow is the place to be for students in London.
Check out some of our fave things to do as a student living in up-and-coming Walthamstow.
From the hustle and bustle of London student living to a natural paradise of reservoirs, trees, flowers and wildlife. In a matter of minutes, you can go from the vibrant streets of Blackhorse Lane to being at one with nature.
The ten reservoirs offer a haven for overwintering wildfowl and are regionally important for breeding birds such as grey heron, tufted duck and little egret. Swifts visit during the spring and kingfisher and peregrine falcon can be seen all year round. In addition to birds, Walthamstow Wetlands is home to damselflies, dragonflies, speckled wood butterflies and thick-kneed beetles, and a number of different species of bats and amphibians.
It’s cliché, but this is the ideal place to get away from it all. Quiet, peaceful and beautifully scenic — a wonderful contrast to the frantic pace of London (and sometimes student) life.
CRATE ON JAMES STREET
You might be familiar with Boxpark, but have you heard of CRATE?
CRATE is the new and improved Boxpark of E17, built on the site of a disused car park on St James Street offering an exciting business community for creatives, retailers, food outlets and service businesses in the heart of Waltham Forest.
At CRATE, you'll find over 30 spaces to satisfy all your cravings and more - whether you fancy a burger, a cocktail, a hair cut, a dance or even a meeting room... they've got it all. Current CRATE residents include The Green Grill, Shee Bakes, Hanoi Cà Phê, Baggio Burger, Long and Short Coffee, The Italian Bakery, Cove17, No-LOGO Hair and Honeey. Check out the full list here.
THE BLACKHORSE BEER MILE
The Blackhorse Beer Mile features some of East London's most exciting drinking locations. From Signature Brew's new home for beer and music, to Exale's bohemian micro brewery, this rapidly-growing area of E17 is proving to be a new centre for some of London's best breweries.
The destination begins just 5 mins from Canvas Walthamstow and ends at Walthamstow Central tube and Overground station, making it an ideal way to spend a weekend enjoying award-winning beers in the places they were brewed. With more breweries incoming, the Blackhorse Beer Mile is set to rival South London's Bermondsey Beer Mile and is already proving itself as East London's must-visit location for craft beer drinkers.
Although the breweries on the Blackhorse Beer Mile are just a short walk from each other, we recommend spending at least an afternoon doing the route. This will allow you to enjoy beer at each of the five venues, as well as leaving ample time for food at the breweries' pop up kitchens along the way.
WILLIAM MORRIS GALLERY
The William Morris Gallery is a museum devoted to the life and works of William Morris, an English Arts and Crafts designer and early socialist. The gallery is housed in Walter House, a Grade II* listed Georgian house, built in the 1740s within the grounds of Lloyd Park, Walthamstow.
The galleries are arranged thematically and centre around the internationally-significant collection of textiles, furniture, ceramics, paintings, designs and personal items connected with Morris and his associates, including the Pre-Raphaelite artists. Beautiful objects are complimented by films, audio and hands-on interactives. The displays are updated regularly, so they'll always be something new to see and do for everyone - whether you're a first time visitor or a William Morris enthusiast.
The gallery is free to enter and won the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013 - Check out all their exhibitions coming up here.
WOOD STREET INDOOR MARKET
This quirky indoor market was originally built and ran as The Crown Cinema between 1912 and 1955, but now has a reputation among shoppers and antique and record collectors as one of London’s secret gems... The area has been run as a market since 1955, and owned and run by the same family since the early 80s, with ownership and responsibility passing down through the generations.
The market has found interest from artists and artisans who are seeing the potential of this niche retail space, set within a community of collectors, antique dealers, vintage clothes stalls, and many other unique shops. You'll find a costume hire shop, a shop selling items such as crystals, candles and spiritual coaching to balance your soul, a movie poster store and multiple shops selling art from local artists.
There's also plenty of food and drink to be tried, including a Mexican Taqueria: Homies on Donkeys where you'll find graffiti donning the walls, hip hop beats coming through the speakers, food full of colour and flavour, and Chef Smokey somewhere in the background cracking a joke.
Gnome House is a community art space in Walthamstow featuring a printmaking studio, a large community and creative space available for hire, plus a pop-up café. The space is a formerly derelict factory and it's transformation into a vibrant community arts space was led by local Walthamstow residents and artists.
The community space holds a lot of adult classes and events including art courses, printmaking, virtual sessions and more.
Putting young people first is a priority for Gnome House as one of their most renowned schemes is their Ratpack youth group. The Ratpack meet on Saturdays to take part in a variety of different creative activities - from printmaking to gardening. The young people also act as a steering committee, helping to shape the future vision for Gnome House and decide what kind of place they'd like to be. If you'd like to get involved, you can find out more about the Gnome House Ratpack here.
AUTHENTIC TURKISH RESTAURANTS
Walthamstow is blessed to be surrounded by a tonne of authentic Turkish restaurants. We struggled to choose our favourite, so here's our top 3 to check out:
This is definitely the most popular Turkish place in Walthamstow, constantly filled with locals and Turkish cuisine enthusiasts. The owners are from Turkey and have stated that they've “borrowed their family's traditional recipes” so they could use them in their restaurant and share with you lovely lot. This way, Gokyuzu is able to offer to their visitors authentic mouth-watering Turkish dishes in the heart of E17.
This a small and casual restaurant with a simple décor that offers delicious Turkish food. Not many people know of this place which is why we had to feature it in our list. Aside from delicious food, the prices are affordable, they offer takeout and home delivery, the staff are always friendly, and they use fresh ingredients, making Cinar Grill the perfect place for a quick lunch or dinner.
Yasar’s Kitchen is a lovely restaurant with a great menu featuring the traditional Turkish dishes we all love. It was established in 1976 which gives them a lot of experience in the field – probably why Yasar’s is so popular with the locals. Their charcoal grills are the most mentioned dish on TripAdvisor so definitely worth a try.
See... there's so many cool things to do and places to see in Walthamstow! Whether it's for a quiet stroll, an East End market trip, an authentic meal out or a cultural afternoon - it's all going down in up-and-coming Walthamstow.
Got any other recommendations for a student bucket list in Walthamstow? Let us know @canvas_studentuk.
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