London Loop – Harold’s Wood to Purfleet the final leg

Thames barges in the mist
Thames barges in the mist

I kept waking up in the night, possibly because I knew I wanted to get up early to make sure I finished off LOOP, by getting the 07:49, however I was wide awake at 05:55 so I got up and was parked up at Berkhamsted with 20 minutes to get a ticket and coffee before the 06:49. I had no excuse to not finish. Puccino’s was open that early which was a relief, apparently they had a lie in and opened at 06:00 instead of their usual 05:00!

The train was on time and there were plenty of seats I managed to get a seat with a table to myself. Quite a few people got on at Watford at 07:03 my theory was that there first train pad there hours is always slightly busier than others?

Once again Google maps came to the rescue, I checked the best route from Euston and as I got to the southbound Northern line platform the train arrived, then after walking from Moorgate to Liverpool street the next train to Harold’s Wood was to depart in 4 minutes. I was back on the walk at 08:23 it was very foggy so navigation was going to b re a challenge.

Arty misty ThamesI was in familiar territory as I walked a short action I had walked the week before, I left the built up area and entered Harold’s Wood park there were just a few dog walkers and joggers about. Visibility was down to about 70m. At the end of the wood I walked along a B road to get across the A127, or better known as the Southend Arterial Road.

Arty misty ThamesI again was in familiar ground as I approached Upminster and passed the car park where I had left the car the week vefore, the route was again urban for a while, until we hit Ingrebourne valley at Hacton parkway. I would be in the country and wildlife areas for quite a few miles, and had not taken the opportunity to get a coffee and some water as it would have meant a detour. I thought I may have made a mistake but then I came across Ingrebourne Valley Visitor Centre, run by the Essex Wildlife Trust, in Hornchurch Country Park. The café was a good one as many of the wildlife centres gave these days. I was not impressed with the stale scone but the butter covered that up and the coffee was good. I had a table overlooking the reserve and it’s reed bed but these was not much chance of sightings because they were all lost in the mist. I did however if and time to browse a book called The East End Then and Now, a thick book with all sorts of stories and pictures if the East End.

Lighthouse on the Thames
Lighthouse on the Thames

On the way out I noticed a small exhibition about the role of the area during  WWII there was some Spitfire action around there involving the RAF. I also noticed a bird box camera display there was a squirrel asleep in the Tawny Owl nesting box! As I walked the remainder of the reserve I noticed pill boxes and gun emplacements.

I’ve learnt with all the walking this year that the tortoise normally wins, walk at a reasonable pace don’t try to rush, as that just results in sore things and blisters. At a good pace, around 3 mph, I ultimately am able to walk further than if I try to sprint.

As I approached Rainham there were a couple of super stores ans the photo place for garden atorage, Rainham Sheds. Evidence that I was nearing the Thames ce in the form notifications of Ferry Lane, which actually lead to the railway station where I crossed over on a pedestrian walkway. There was no evidence of a ferry to be seen, especially in the mist.

At the Thames edge I spotted waders, Godwits, Redshank, and Curlews amongst the ticks. I could hear boats but could not see them. A regular siren called out six times about once a minute, it was warning of a  jetty I think, for boats offloading rubbish for the landfill. The route followed the Thames edge and there Was a sign posts every 200m counting down the distance to the finish at Purfleet, they started at about 4km.

Purfleet Magazine
Purfleet Magazine

There was not much to see what with industrial estate, and landfill, but I did pass Coldharbour lighthouse a light on a red tower about 10m high. I saw over Twenty goldfinch on a fence, and surprisingly a Stonechat amongst them. My feet were starting to get a bit sore at 13miles but I carried on rather because I knew Rainham RSPB was close and a sandwich in the very strange modern visitor centre was beckoning. I got chatting to the RSPB man who told me that there was a Cattle Egret, two Short-Eared Owls, and some Avocets out on the reserve, it was tempting to go and take a look but they were all in the far side if the reserve, and I had some walking still left to do and in any case had left my membership card at home. Reluctantly I pulled myself out of the comfy armchair and got back on the LOOP.

It was not far, just a mile, to Purfleet station a train arrived but I was determined to find a plaque indicating the end of the LOOP so I let it go while I searched for the plaque. It turns out there is not one, or one that I could find anyway. So I sat on platform one and waited 25 minutes for the 14:56 back to central London. Google gave me a choice of routes I decided to get off at Barking and get on the Hammersmith and City all the way through to Euston. If anything the mist was even thickerbas the light faded. It looked like I would make the 16:24 from Euston, I was glad I had got up early l, it would have been proper dark if I has left an hour later.

The end of the London Loop Purfleet Station
The end of the London Loop Purfleet Station

Not sure if I missed the connection or got there early but Google suggested the district line when I check at Barking, it was due in 1 minute. At West Ham Google had me get off and wait for the Hammersmith and City to shave a minute of the journey. I noticed that the temperature had dropped significantly as waited briefly on the same platform I had got off at. No further suggested changes emerged. I actually made the 16:05 and had time to grab a hit chocolate, before getting on the train, which had changed platforms since it was announced on the departures board.

I really enjoyed the London LOOP and was surprised at how rural it was. One of the aspects I really liked was the adventure if getting g to and from parts of London by public transport. My next challenge will be the Capital Ring which I will attempt to get a good chunk of it done over the Christmas break. I reckon at 78 miles it should be doable in 6 sections of 13 miles.

I grabbed a ready meal from Waitrose on the way home and Helen and I planned to spend the evening in front of the TV, we thought we would give Westworld a go.