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Secret Island (Royal Gunpowder Mills)
The Lee Valley

Secret Island (Royal Gunpowder Mills)

Surrounded by canals and hidden by trees, Secret Island (Royal Gunpowder Mills) is a top secret location near Waltham Abbey waiting to be discovered by intrepid explorers and nosey scientists. For over 300 years Secret Island was home to a factory that made gunpowder and other explosives. More recently it was used as a ‘Top Secret’ government research facility working on rocket propellants and many of the experiments carried out here are still ‘classified information’. Now you can uncover the science and history of making explosives and rockets with the help of Professor Nitrate and his exciting experiments. Are you ready to become a Secret Island Scientist?

Missions to do in this location

Mission name User rating Badge

Trail Mission: The Science & Secrets of Gunpowder

COMPLETE the trail mission, DISCOVER the answer to the question, WIN your badge!
Secret Island Scientist

The Games Mission: Rocket Adventures

COMPLETE three Games missions, DISCOVER the answers, WIN The Games Explorer Badge!
The Games Explorer Badge

Buddy Mission: Military Bingo Hunt

CREATE a daredevil team, EXPLORE the unknown, REWARD your Buddies!

On The Way Mission: Fly at High Speed

TRAVEL to your fun-tastic location, DISCOVER the world around you, KEEP your eyes, ears and noses open!

Get the Secret Island (Royal Gunpowder Mills) explorer pack

Get everything you need to become a top explorer!

Download the explorer pack

Info for grown ups

Address: Beaulieu Drive, Waltham Abbey, Essex, EN9 1JY

Directions: By Car: From J26 of M25, take A121 to Waltham Abbey; or from J25 of M25 go to Waltham Cross and then A121.

By Train: Nearest station is Waltham Cross (25 minute walk) on the line from London’s Liverpool Street.

By Bus: Buses 21, 212, 213, 240, 250, 251, 505, 517, get off at Highbridge Street stop.

On foot: 10 minute walk from Waltham Abbey town centre

Parking: Free parking on site

Opening Times: Open every weekend and bank holiday from Sat 31 March to Sun 30 September 2012. Open every day during school holidays. Open 10am - 5pm (last entry 3.30pm).

Fees: Adult: £9, Children (3-15 years old): £6.50, Child under 3 years old: FREE, Family Tickets: £27.50 - £32.50

Toilets: Toilets on site

Refreshments: Gunpowder Café on site

Time for missions: 2 – 3 hours

Age range: 5 years upwards. All missions to be accompanied by an adult.

Safety: Check out the full Survival Guide on

Explore Further: Pick up an Explorer Bag the ticket office in the car park or jump on the Land Train to explore the rest of Secret Island (leaves hourly).

Top survival tips

Keep to the paths, away from the abandoned buildings

Be careful of traffic – stay to the side

Stick together,always go with an adult

Check the weather – do you need, a waterproof, or a hat and sun cream?

Be aware of animals around the site, don’t touch them

Explorer Essentials (things to bring):

Pencils, pens and paper

Something to lean on – e.g. a clipboard



View the Survival Guide

Discover Explore has been built by The Workshop. It is part of Discovering Places which is principally funded by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor

Discovering Places is delivered in partnership between The Heritage Alliance and London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.

Original artwork by Tom Morgan-Jones & The Geography Collective.