Streets of London: Leytonstone High Road, E11

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  • 98 LEYTON MAP2.jpg
    (click to enlarge) A Tesco B Sheepwalk C 'Leaf Man' Sculpture D North Star Pub E Base Camp Restaurant

    Hanging on in there, though, is Just Fires (No 746, 020 8530 5715) – which sells modern Shaker-style kitchens and French vintage furniture, as well as period fire surrounds, grates and tiles – and has stripped and sanded countless Bushwood floors. Monarch Sports (No 815, 020 8558 5023) may look a jumbled mess but it’s increasingly hard-to-find sports shops that cater for players rather than posers – and the owner will happily track down specialist kit. Also worth a glance if you’re an old chuffer (or you know a child who’s into trains) is the Engine Shed (No 745, 020 8539 3950), a delightfully old-fashioned repository of everything to do with model railways. From here, however, it’s an easy stroll to villagey Wanstead, with its delis and boutiques, or a bus ride to South Woodford for Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Laura Ashley.

    Despite its scruffy appearance, Leytonstone High Road and the streets off it are safe and have a strong community spirit, engendered by active residents’ associations, St John’s Church on the corner of Church Lane and annual events such as the Leytonstone Festival and Car-Free Day. Teachers, nurses and local authority workers, initially attracted by the comparatively low property prices, find the neighbourliness offsets the absence of smart restaurants and any destination retailing.

    Instead, a clutch of good-quality cheap eateries typifies this shabby chic appeal: South Indian Swaad (No 715, 020 8539 1700), Thai Singburi (No 593, 020 8281 4801), Nepalese Base Camp (No 552, 020 8988 3904) and Punjabi Cafe Larosh (7 Church Lane, 020 8518 7463) are the pick. Petch Sayam (No 682, 020 8556 6821) offers a more salubrious Thai experience, while the Horizon patisserie (No 809, 020 8558 7178) is great for coffee and cake. Spanish stalwart Elche (No 567, 020 8558 0008), which once served some of the capital’s finest tapas, can be rather hit and miss, though still offers a good-value Sunday buffet.

    At various times, this part of E11 has been touted as the new Islington, but other areas upped and came instead. However, the fact that Waltham Forest is one of the five Olympic boroughs and that Stratford is at the bottom end of the High Road are sure to have an impact in the run-up to 2012, with prices certain to rise. Meantime, locals like the unpretentiousness, the racial harmony and the sense that Bushwood, in particular, is a little undiscovered secret.

    Estate agents

    Alan Harvey (020 8539 9999/ www.alanharvey.co.uk).Haart
    (020 8539 1194/ www.haart.co.uk).Prestige Property Services
    (020 8556 7700/ www.prestigeproperty.biz). Theydon Property Services (020 8539 2009/ www.theydonproperty.com).Trading Places(020 8558 1147/ www.tradingplaces.uk.com).

    Transport

    Leytonstone High Road is a two-minute walk from Leytonstone tube station (zones 3/4) and is served by Leytonstone High Road station on the Barking-Gospel Oak branch of the North London Line. The 257 bus from Walthamstow Central to Stratford runs the length of Leytonstone High Road.

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