Capital Ring – Falconwood to Penge East

Early start at Berkhamsted

Late night Boxing Day party I thought would have dampened my enthusiasm before a walk, but I got to bed at a later but reasonable hour, and felt refreshed rather than hung over. A quick breakfast of left over Christmas food, hot cross buns, and a coffee and I was set to get the 08:53 from Berkhamsted. There were lads of free parking spaces, but I managed to miss the 08:46 while I got my ticket, annoying especially as the coffee shop was shut. I had time to spare so headed into Berkhamsted town to see if data could find a coffee shop open. I thought I was out that for luck but then noticed that Love Food Dining was open, they sold take away coffee and dam fine coffee in my opinion.

Eltham Palace water supply

The train was packed but I found a seat. It was a frosty start to the day, and quite cold at -1 degrees C, but the weather forecast was a fine day, and with the sun almost as low as it get the photo opportunities were there for the taking. The train was delayed a little bit when we were held waiting for a signal outside Euston.

The transit to Falconwood was via the Victoria line to Victoria then a Southeastern train to my destination. The train was a bit slow and stopped for what seemed like every station, but eventually I got there. I was planning about 10 miles for the day, and was hoping I might get get to a camera shop at Euston on my way home to buy a new lens to replace my mid zoom which had finally packed in after over 10 years of service. I was going to invest in a 16-35mm f4.0 L IS USM.

Extreme Christmas

En route to Waltham I passed through yet another Leafy London Suburb with lovely houses. I passed by Eltham Palace which is run by National Heritage. It was a strange building from the outside, some of it clearly less than 100 years old, but it has a mixture of parts that suggested that there had been some sort of building there for a very long time. It also had a moat.

On the other side of the track things were a bit more run down and I spent a couple of miles waking along paths between by run down housing estates, however I got great views as of Docklands from the slightly elevated path.

Cyclo-cross rider at Beckenham Park

At Downham high street I looked for a cafe but could not find one that looked worth trying. Eventually I came across a McDonald’s drive thru, so stopped for a filet-o-fish and some chips washed down with a coffee. It is an interesting process these days, rather than talk to someone you use a large, 40 inch touch screen to order and pay then your food is delivered, although I realised once I was tucking in that you could order in the traditional way at the counter.

Things got a bit rural for a while as I passed through Beckenham Park, there was a cyclo cross competition going on, so I paused for a while and took some shots of the action. I carried on and things were pretty urban for the rest of the section with ntil I got to Penge East. As I approached I could see the Crystal Palace aerial beckoning in the distance.

Kent County Cricket Club

I had a bit of a wait for the next train to Victoria again a bit busy but it is easy for one person to find a seat. The connections went well and at Euston I had a 30 minute wait for the next train, and with a Calumet (photographic shop) just around the block it seemed rude not to pop in and have a look. As luck would have it they has the lens and in stock and it did not take long to negotiate a better price than those list, I was a few hundred pounds lighter. Probably the most expensive wait for a train I have ever had.

I grabbed the rear most carriage to ensure easy access to the exit at Berkhamsted Station. I had got be another 10 miles of the Capital Ring and has a new lens, which will be taking pictures for this blog in the very near future.

Capital Ring – Cyprus to Falconwood

University of East London

Having finished the London Loop I needed a new challenge, I thought I would give the Capital Ring a go. the Ring is a whisker over half the distance of the London Loop at 78 miles which breaks down into 6 or 7 stretches, of reasonable length. It is another route around London but closer to the centre, and I hoped would be a bit more urban than The Loop.

We finished work on Wednesday the 21st so I thought I would get my first section done on my first day off. Trouble is it is a week day so travel would be more expensive. I knew the first off peak train from Berkhamsted was the 09:31 so I aimed for that. I was not too sure of the best option so went to the ticket office, it turns out that my Railcard was only valid on trains after 10:00 so I opted for the £20 one without the Railcard discount. I had to be on a train back before 16:49 which would suit me fine.

John Burns Woolwich ferry

I had puzzled over where to start, my book and early Xmas present from Helen started at Woolwich and went clockwise, and from experience I knew following book was best done on the same direction. I could however start anywhere on the Ring and just loop back to the beginning of the book as necessary, so I went to bed thinking somewhere north of London would be best given the train restrictions. One final look at the map in the morning and I changed my mind, the route passes close to a DLR station just north of Woolwich ferry so I decided to start there, just a mile from the start of the book, and a chance to use the tunnel, as when I did the Thames Path I had used the ferry.

The train was on time and empty at Berkhamsted, but by the time we got to Euston most seats were taken. The weather was forecast as sunny but there was a most about, which I hoped would make for good photos. The northern line took me to Bank the I got on the DLR to West Ferry then changed to the Becton line for the final leg to Cyprus. I had a front row on the train and with no driver’s cabin you get great views of Docklands as we passed through.

Boat on the Thames

I soon reached Gallions Point, which at first glance looks like it is spelt wrong but when I checked on Wikipedia it all made sense, “Gallions Reach is a stretch of the River Thames between Woolwich and Thamesmead. There are various locations on both sides of the river named after Gallions Reach. The area is named for the Galyons, a 14th-century family who owned property along this stretch of the river.”

At Woolwich ferry I chose the tunnel rather than the ferry which I used when I did the Thames Path, deep and long is as much as I have to say about it. The getting the modern bit wood panelled lift back up to the surface is worth the ride and save some energy. I was still on familiar ground as the path again follows the Thames Path, but after  a mile I took a left through Marion Wilson animal park where in the middle is a very secure couple of fenced areas containing ducks and chickens on one side of the path and deer, with antlers, on the other. I think it was run by Greenwich council for children to experience where children can experience a kind of farm like environment.

Shooters Hill

I crossed a busy road BT was soon in another ark this time Charlton Park which contains Charlton hall a grand Elizabethan, I think, building. I came across auch needed WC and a great little cafe where I had a cheese sandwich and a coffee for lunch. 

The next significant milestone was Shooters Hill in Greenwich borough. The path was in the woods but not at all muddy. It was however hilly. I passed a castle then a cafe both at the top of hills. I was glad of the final descent.

At Shepperdleas Woods I had had enough and decided that Falconwood station on the South Eastern Railway line, to Charing Cross, was the place to finish off. I had a two minute wait, for the relatively busy train but I found a seat without any trouble.

I made short shrift if my London transit by getting off at London Bridge and walking to the Northern Line, I got to Euston with 4 minutes to spare for the 16:34, which was well within the time cut off for my off peak ticket. I think I am going to enjoy the Capital Ring.

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

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.

I 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

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

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

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.

London Loop – Chigwell to Harold’s Wood

Loop view

Saturday it rained all day so I skipped the usual walk and we headed for the cinema to see Snowden, which was good, not too technical that Helen enjoyed it too despite her thinking it might not be a good film because it was about computers. Sunday on the other hand was blue skies and a tad cold, excellent walking conditions. Getting to where I left off was going to be a challenge, I was once again on the opposite end of the LOOP from where I live.

I decided to drive to Upminster as I could het there in under an hour’s then could use the tube to get back to Chigwell where I had left off the week before.T he drive involved the M25 until the last junction before the Dartford tunnel, the Southend Arterial Road for a few miles to Monster where I parked in a car park that was free on a Sunday, and on the LOOP route, which I followed to Upminster Bridge station. A train was waiting for me on the platform. Passing through Hornchurch, Barking, West Ham, and Bow Road I changed at Mile End to get on the Central Line, to Chigwell.

Interesting stations on the Central Line included Gants Hill, Fairlop and Grange Hill. Not sure of the 80’s kids TV programme was filmed at it’s namesake? I had to change when the train terminated at Hainault. I had a 15 minute wait so would probably only start walking at 11:20 it was going to be a challenge to get the planned 15 miles done before it for dark. the Woodford twain was advertised on platform 2 but then arrived on 1 so there was a mad rush to change platforms, I just made it as the doors closed!

Loop view

About a couple of miles in a guy called Dave caught up with me and I enquired whether he was walking the LOOP, it turns out he was. We chatted for a couple of miles, he had an interesting job. He was doing a PhD in the physics of solar weather, and prediction of solar flares. His pace was just slightly faster than my usual place, and at the first hill I bid him fair well. Soon I was the other side of Hainault Forest Country Park.

So far the going had been muddy which would turn out the be the theme for ther day as the path crossed lots of fields. There did not seem to be a way to stop the mud sticking to my boots. The next country park would be Havering Country Park, but I don’t remember much of it as I’m sure I was getting a cold and sore throat, which was distracting me. I passed through Chigwell Row Wood, and walked past Ye Olde Kings Head which I could not figure out whether it was still a pub, a private home or a curry house. It turns out it was an trendy restaurant where all the stars eat including Alan Sugar and Tamara Ecclestone, the website is here

After Foxburrow Wood and walking through a nondescript housing estate I decided to bail out at Harold’s Wood station, I had had enough. I found the bus stop and waited 20 minutes for the 256 to Hornchurch High Street, then another 15 minutes walk (0.7 miles) to the car. The journey back was fine as the traffic was OK. Helen had a honey and lemon waiting for me when I got home and had made tea, perfect!


London Loop – Cockfosters to Chigwell or Chingford

Cockfosters ticket hall

Up slightly earlier that the week before to get the 07:44 from Berkhamsted to Euston. I was up earlier not because I was walking further than usual but because the commute was getting longer as I was getting further from home again after progressively getting closer since the start in Erith. Weather was cold I was expecting 4-6 degrees all day, but sun and clouds were promised ideal for taking pictures. The train was a couple of minutes late, nothing to complain about, I think because the train to Croydon in front was running a little late.

Rosberg retired from Formula one during the week which seemed to come out of the blue, I can’t blame him he will probably never have to work again. It would be nice if Verstappen could join the Mercedes team, as he has show that he us quite capable, during the 2016 season. Who ever takes his place will be in a great car which had dominated 2016, which should liven it up for next year.

Enfield lock number 13

The Victoria line to Finsbury park was my next transit. They were announcements about delays on the Piccadilly line my next journey, things were about to get a bit complicated. First I climbed the stairs only to find that the Piccadilly line was at the same level as the Victoria. I check Google maps and  the bus alternative would be 56 minutes compared to the 26 on the Piccadilly, so it would have to be seriously delayed for it to be worth getting the bus. Down at the right platform the next one was due in 7 minutes, fingers were crossed as I hoped to not waste time on the commute. As it turns out train was OK and I was in Cockfosters in good time.

The path passes close by the station and I was soon in woods with the early dog walkers, the path was mainly countryside for first 7 miles, I stopped for a Snickers break in Clay Park, and spotted a couple of Ring-necked Parakeets. A dog walker struck up a conversation, and told me all about his dog, and how the side of Enfield to the west of the A10 was the posh or more expensive side, with equivalent houses attracting a 20℅ premium. The sun was warm on my back but there was a definite chill in the air. The sky was bright blue with big white cumulus clouds drifting by. At Forty Hill a foot bridge over the A10 queueing into London


At Enfield High Street I hoped to stop for lunch but there was not really any coffee shops that might sell sandwiches, but I did opt to get a coffee in one of the patisserie shops, which sold mainly cakes and baclava and other far western Europe or middle East delicacies. I ordered an americano and some if the small savoury biscuits on display, and one free sweet thing which I hoped would be pistachio. Whilst I sat there resting a nan came into collect a cake for Adrian, however it was a she, so spelt Adrien, they went back of shop to get the icing editor out.

A few blocks of terraced houses came nect, at one a family looked locked out and were attempting to get a small child to climb through the upstairs very small window. I wished them luck the window looked smaller than the child  stopping the wheelie bin. Next up wad the canal and Enfield Lock 13. Just up the canal I got a bit lost and had to double back a bit, but I did see a great canal boat name at the dry dick, it was called Narrow Escape. Next was in Lea, or is it Lee, Valley, it was unclear, some signs one way and some the other. The path followed what I guessed was the Lea river, and the habitat became good for bird watching.

Leopard gates at Gilwell Park scouts activity centre

I knew I would be getting into Essex today and the first sign of that was a  “No dumping” sign by the county council. I crossed a few fields and climbed a hill then the path took me up the drive for the Gilwell Scouts activity centre which has some history. According to Wikipedia “Gilwell Park is a campsite and activity centre for Scouting groups and all Youth Organisations, as well as a training and conference centre for Scout Leaders with many business and local groups using the facilities, including the hosting of social events such as weddings and birthday parties. The 44 hectare(109 acre) site is in Sewardstonebury, Epping Forest, close to Chingford, London.

In the late Middle Ages the area was a farm, growing to a wealthy estate that fell into disrepair towards 1900. It was bought in 1919 by Scout Commissioner William de Bois Maclaren and given to the Scout Association of the United Kingdom to provide camping to London Scouts, and training for Scouters. As Scout Leaders from all countries of the world have come to Gilwell Park for their Wood Badge training, it is one of the landmarks of the world Scouting Movement.”

At the grand leopard gates at the main entrance the path took a left and skirted around the centre which looked like a great resource. The path got very hilly I seemed to be either climbing or descending one for quite a while I the nk four hills in total. Them I came across the edge of Epping forest which is right near Chinford station, I decided I could manage another 4 miles so stopped at a Brewers Fayre for a rest and some chips. There was snooker on the TV and someone was feeding money into the fruit machine next to me. I must say that fruit machines are far more complicated than when I looked at used one. The snooker was quite interesting Selby versus Murphy 46-61 with just the colours to go, they were in a I’ll snooker you then you’ll snooker me game.

Essex Sunset

The final few miles were mainly suburbia, and a David Lloyd centre, then I crossed the M11, and left the Loop route to get to Chigwell station via a well to do housing estate. Google maps suggested the bus was quicker but it left just as I arrived, so I headed to the Tube station.

I chatted to the underground staff member regarding best route, he suggested in a Scottish accent getting the second train to avoid a change at Woodford then get off at Liverpool Street and take any train to Euston Square. I consulted Google maps and it suggested Tottenham Court road, then Northern line. I eventually settled for Northern line from Bank.

At Euston I hurried because I need some dinner, but my plans were dashed when the fast train was called on platform 18 which unlike the normal platform did not have a Marks and Spencer on the ramp to the station. I decided to use Berkhamsted Waitrose instead.

London Loop – Stanmoor to Barnet then Cockfosters

Misty lake near Stanmore

Another Saturday another early start, this time I left the house at 07:30, and the departure station Berkhamsted for the 08:01 to Euston. I would be getting off at Bushes and grabing the 142 bus which as luck would have it passes right by where I finished off the week before. The weather was quite grey and misty but the weatherman said might clear, so I had camera gear with me. The plan was Stanmore to Barnet, but I decided that I might extend to Cockfosters depending how I felt, as it was probably only another three miles.

I got off the train at Bushey with one minute till the 142 left, luckily the bus stop was conveniently just at the station exit. The news this morning was of the death of Fidel Castro the Cuban dictator. The news was full of people with differing opinions, some pointed to the repressive regime with a bad human rights revord, others to the fact that Cuba has a high literacy rate and a world class health system. One story I found fascinating was that after some protests Castro decided that if people wanted to leave they could, so 125,000 left, and the regime smuggled criminals and mentally ill amongst them, that’s one way to deal with a problem! I just think that the world is just a bit more boring with such colourful leaders.

Misty morning and crop curves

The route goes under m1, then I took a slight detour to look at a laboratory marked on the map, there were no clues as to what it did but it has big and had serious security. The detour route took me round the other side of Aldenham reservoir. Then I had to walk across a field with what I guess was winter wheat planted. A couple of male pheasants ignored me while they sized each other up.

I took the opportunity to take some photos as the sun was just breaking through the mist and the light was very warm. I passed through Elstree and Borehamwood and saw quite a few people with the kippah on so I guess I was in a area with a Jewish community. Next I was on the pavement of a busy road, I noticed a couple of shafts for the Elstree tunnels. There were some big houses being built, even though it was a busy and noisy road. Finally I took a right and left the road for a significant stretch of countryside, Scratchwood open space Thistlewood.

Elstree tunnel shafts

At the end of the wood as I got to the A1, I came across an abandoned looking establishment, Django Lounge, with a soft armchair and coffee table outside so I put my feet up for a while. It was just off the A1 and the path headed south only to get across and then head north. I decided it would be a waste of time so I headed north to a nearer roundabout then went cross country back to the loop. A short cut but who really wants to walk about a mile along side the A1? After all it is my walk and I can make the rules.

My gpx route went through the Old cholmeleian sports club, but it did not look very inviting with keep pit signs and barriers. I threw caution to the wind and carried on anyhow. The drive took me to a shut up  club house which I had difficulty negotiating around. The football pitches were in good state of maintenance though so it was clearly used. i eventually found a sign at the far end but I’m still not sure if my route was correct.

Mushroom close up

Got lost a little bit following a brook on the south edge of Barnet, the footbridge was in the river so jumping skills had to be tested. Once in Barnet itself I spotted a parade of shops, and needing a rest and sustenance I headed off the route

The best offering seemed to be a Costa where I for a toasted feta cheese focaccia, which was nice once it had cooled down. I washed it all down with a coffee and also got a bottle of water for the final few miles to Cockfosters. That’s right I felt that even though I was over 11 miles in, as long as I has a rest I the next stretch would be easily achievable. On the other side of the road was a lady with a massive helium balloon strapped to her.

Next was Hadley with its very  big houses, the sun was out with wispy blue skies and sun low again great for photo’s. Monks Hadley Common road marked wa marked as a track, but turned out to be much more than that. Ath the bottom of the valley I came across a serious film crew Arri camera gear, some of it in a big pile by the road unguarded.

Monken Hadley church

On the fnal mile I started to feel I had walked far enough but I was chuffed that that I had manages to walk so far, it is definitely getting easier to walk longer, even if it is by small increments. At Cockfosters the train was waiting to take me to Finsbury park, where I changes to the Victoria line, and on to Euston. I passed through some tube stations I had never before visited, with great names, Arnos Grove, Bounds Green, and Turnpike Lane amongst them.

At Finsbury park a Victoria line train arrives just as I got to the platform. There were announcements about severe delays on the Piccadilly line which o had just got off, things were definitely going my way. At Euston I walked up the escalators which was just as well as when o got to the concourse the departures board said 5 minutes till the 15;34 departed from platform 10. I got on the back of the train because it saves some walking at Berkhamsted. The train arrived on time and once again I stopped at the M&S in Berkhamsted to get a dinner. I was really chuffed at having done 15 miles and come out relatively unscathed compared to previous walls of that distance. I remember doing 17 towards the end of the Thames Path, and being totally knackered and unable to walk the next day.

London Loop – Rickmansworth to Hatch End part deux

Rickmansworth duck pond

My last attempt at this stretch resulted in a failure when I failed to prepare for the biblical rain I encountered just a few miles in. I decided to start at Rickmansworth cutting out a mile of the route from where I finished off but there was a mike walk from Rickmansworth to join the LOOP. I got up early to a very frosty start, and headed to Wendover station to get the 08:23 train to Rickmansworth.

Although frosty the sun was low and the views from the train of the Chilterns was stunning at times. I need an app that would allow me to quick record locations with date and time as a list of places to return to and take a picture at some point in the future. I digress the point is that the weather was looking great for photo’s so I had my camera bag with me so I could carry DSLR and extra layers so I am prepared for all weathers.

Chiltern Trains are very posh I must say, I sat down and had to look around to check that I was not say in first class. At e table I was sat at there was two power outlets and as small sign indicating that WiFi was available. I connected up, the speed was not great but it was better than no internet at all. The table it self had pull it sections to allow passengers to get to their seats but then have room to get a kind of desk effect.

The Case is Altered pub

The start of the leg was quite urban, but I was loon in a country park with some lakes known as Batchworth lakes, I had also crossed the Grand union. I walked along a road and left the houses behind and eventually found a sign for the LOOP opposite a pub.

I missed a turn walking across Sandy Lodge Golf Club along the way but did not lose too much time, as the golfers were only too happy to point out that I was no longer on the designated footpath. I eventually came to a main road and a convenient petrol station had a Starbucks so I grabbed a coffee and a snickers then crossed the main road and walked until I found a convenient bench to have a rest and some sustenance. The wood were really showing their colours.

As I got towards Hatch End I caught up with a guy named Paul who was also doing the loop. We got chatting for half a mile or so and we swapped notes about the LOPP and other walks. He had done the London Ring which I may make my next walk. He wa retired and was able to walk during the week too. He said that he sometimes joined walkers clubs on their trips out to the Chilterns from London. I might give that a go one day, but I do enjoy the me time I get ding these walks.

Tube carriage

After crossing another main road I came across a load of fly tipping, it is something that is really unnecessary. Through Grins Dyke golf club not clear signing toward the end but again some golfers pointed me in the right direction. Stanmore is quite a posh neighbourhood with substantial houses.

I walked through Bentley Priory which according to their website is “where the Battle of Britain was won” there is a museum and stuff about that. I made a mental note to put it on the list of places to visit. I stopped for a rest in the adjacent nature reserve and fond out that the batteries on my phone were dead. I also found out that the cable for my power bank battery was also no good. Luckily  I had looked at the map a few moments before and had memorised where I needed to go, and I eventually found a bus stop to get me to Stanmore station.

From Stanmore I gfot the tube to Wembley Park then changed and did almost a U turn to get to Harrow on the Hill. As I exited I was asked to do a survey about my journey and I consented! I then had a bout 20 minutes to get the train back to Wendover, so I checked out the shopping centre and managed to haggle for a cable to charge my phone. I grabbed  a bottle of wine from the Tesco express then a coffee in the Station and then only had a 2 minute wait for the train.

I was back reasonably early 15:30 and was quite tired. That evening we went to a Music Quiz organised by the local church and manged to win.

London Loop – Uxbridge to Hatch End failed

I had some holidays to use up, and already had the Monday off for our annual pilgrimage to Brighton for the Veteran Car run si u tagged a say either side to make a long weekend. The plan was Uxbridge to Hatch End about 13 miles so on the long side, but it’s in North London so very accessible for me.

I was up eatlyish and headed by car to Hatch End station where to my surprise the small car park had plenty of spaces, the fee was £4.50 for the day. It turns  out a bus to Rayner’s lane was the best but it is always good to leave the car at a transport hub if there is a need to bail out. There was talk of rain, so it was a distinct possibility, and it had rained all the way to the station.

I got the H12 bus opposite the station, it made slow progress as the traffic was heavy compared weekends, and just after rush hour to boot.

I was distracted by this post when I looked up and saw we had stopped at Rayner’s lane but is was too late to get off the bus so I alighted at the next step. It turned out the sign had said towards Rayner’s Lane si I had to wait for another bus before eventually alighting at my intended destination.

Rayner’s Lane has an interesting selection of shops, some clearly long established businesses, other more recent a few Asian supermarkets a couple of Polish grocers. I found the art deco tube station at the top of the high street, and waited for the Metropolitan train to Uxbridge.

I got on the bus to Rayners lane but got off at the wrong stop so had to wait again for the next bus, interstingly Oyster only charges me for a single journey. Rayner’s lane shops is interesting traditonal shops along side shops clearly opend by immigrants, it would be a great place to do your weekly shopping. Next leg would be on the underground.

I eventually reached Uxbridge at 11:05 and headed straight to the shopping centre for a pee, then headed out to find the canal tow path I had used the week before. After a while it started to rain. The path follows the canal and us pretty uninspiring especially in the rain. Eventually I shelteres under a bridge, and on consulting the map noticed it was about 1km to pub, so I pushed on.

The Bear on the Barge cheese sandwich and refuge from the rain that had become quite heavy. Tempted to grab one of the umbrella in the coat stand that appear to have no owner. The song “These boots are made walkin” which seemed to be nagging me to get back on the LOOP path.

I did a few more miles but the rain for harder. Sheltering under a canal bridge near Hatfield Hospital I decided that it was not fun any more and th e rain was showing no signs of stopping, so decided to bail out. It was however about a mike to the nearest bus stop and with no trees to lessen the rain. I had a 10 minute wait.

The journey back involved two bus journeys and a tube. First a bus to Northwood station, followed by tube to Pinner and finally a bus to Hatch End

London Loop – Hatton Cross to Uxbridge

London loop rubbish

I woke up to a fight morning, but the weather people were promising sunny weather, so I would keep the momentum going, Hatton Cross to Uxbridge which is 11 miles. By the time I had parked up in Uxbridge the air was still chilly but blue sky was starting to be visible through the now low clouds.

I missed a 222 but they run every 7 minutes so it was not long before another one came along. I decided to shave 10 minutes off the loop by skipping half a mile of the loop to save having to change busses. When I got off the bus I must have got my map up the wrong way because I crossed the road and walked to where it crosses the LOOP. At the zebra crossing I noticed a lady and two boys, she was carrying the same print out I had in my back pocket for the sections I was doing that day, I wished them luck with it but i’m not sure they made the connection. They were however the first people I had seen who were without doubt doing the loop (or part of), other people I have seen may have been but without asking I will never know.

Tesla cockpit

Once on the path I crossed a park then I had to cross a road at the end of a housing estate, the rubbish at the side on the bend in the road was awful the worst I had seen so far on the walk, it was on Cranford lane. I followed the river for a mile or two and came across a church which was almost smothered by the M40 which I passed under and about 500 metres further on the path turned left at 90 degrees and follows the Grand Union Canal for a couple of miles as it edges through the industrial area of Hayes.

I left the canal and the path took me through a business park then across the edge of Stockley Park golf club across a dual carriage way and across Stockley park itself. Eventually dropping me out on a business park on the edge of Yiewsley. I decided a coffee was in order so my eyes were on alert. I spotted a Tesla showroom and ditched the coffee idea for a look at the cars inside.

Tesla can in the show room

The sales man was a friendly chap even when I explained that I was far from being a customer. He answered all my questions and we chatted about how Elon Musk was really just a battery manufacturer. he invited me to have a sit in the cars and encouraged me to play with the massive touch screen that they have in the centre console. Finally he offered to get me a coffee from the fancy machine they had, thus saving me a couple of quid. I thanked him and set off again and was soon dumped back on the canal towpath, where I spotted my second lift boot converted to a canal boat with living accommodation, I had previously seen one on the Thames river bank.

Red autumn leaves and green pond weed

I was feeling a bit peckish so when I passed a large Tesco on the side of the canal I popped in and got a sandwich and a bottle of water, then where the path takes a left at Packet Boat Marina near Little Britain I stopped at a handy bench and consumed them. Soon after the path leaves the canal and head north following the Colne river leaving the Slough arm of the Grand Union to go West. I carried on the Grand Union for a while before realising I had missed the turn, however I was able to se two instances where the canal was bridged over a couple of rivers.

The Colne river passes through an area with lakes and I saw plenty of wild life and not many people. I saw both a Heron and Little Egret both in a tree which is not usual to see before roosting time in the evening. The path follows the river round the industrial estate on the west side of Uxbridge and ten joins the Grand Union again for the last couple of miles. I did not take the first opportunity to get back to the car but took the next left so that I reduced the length of the next section to Moor Park. It looks like it will be mainly on the Grand Union.

London Loop – Kingston Upon Thames to Hatton Cross

Deer rut in Bushey Park

This section was going to be a strange one, from Kingston ending up at Hatton Cross tube station, and thankfully a shortish one, 8.5 miles, after the previous days 15 miler. It would be the first time I would not use my Railcard as I would be using the car and a bus.  I would be doing an official section so it was well documented.

I set off at a reasonable the and set the satnav for the NCP car park at the Hatton Cross station. It took me round the M25 and M4 things went a bit wrong after that.  The satnav said I had arrived but it was nowhere to be seen, I carried on a bit but then had to stop to consult Google maps, which soon got me to outside the station but the on a road with no access to the far park, it was on the A30, so I had to go 1 mile back and forth to get to the entrance.

The Shot Tower Crane Valley

Luckily the bus was due and I was soon en route to Kingston, as we got closer things became familiar as places I had passed when doing the Thames Path. The bus stop was near the bridge on the side I had finished but it did mean I would miss a few hundred yards of  the Loop. Once across the river I entered Bushey park which was very popular, with loads of people about. I could not resist a stop at the woodland garden coffee establishment for a coffee and a piece of cake, I had to take the day easy, after all, because of my sore foot.

The deer in the park were in full rut and far more approachable than the ones in Ashridge. There were plenty of photographers and long lenses about. The path keeps mainly to the wooded and lakes areas. It was a real pleasure to walk through, alas it came to an end and the path spent a while on roads and in housing estate until it enters Crane Park, and follows the river Crane for a mile and a bit.

BA Hangar heathrow

Halfway through the park there is a shot tower which has been renovated and is now a visitor centre for the London Wildlife Trust, unfortunately it was closed, I bet the view is good from the top. According to the web “Once the site of the Hounslow Gunpowder Mills, Crane Park Island is a beautiful reserve where you could be lucky enough to spot a majestic kingfisher or the threatened water vole.

It is a mosaic of woodland, scrub and reedbed, which due to careful management provides a home for the increasingly scarce water vole.

The island welcomes visitors throughout the year and has good facilities for people with disabilities. School children on specially organised visits can investigate the rich aquatic life in the shallow stretches of the Crane.

NCP car pak under the flight path at Hatton Cross

The old Shot Tower was opened as a visitor centre in 2004. It is open to the public every Sunday afternoon between 1.30pm and 4.30pm and for special events. Call 07702 669 888 for details. It was 13:20 so I hung around for 10 minutes, until a lady on a bicycle turned up and opned up shop. I asked if it was worth climbing the stairs to the top, and convinced me it was. Given I had walked quite a way by then ot was quite some effort and a bit of a disappoint men as the view was not quite over the tree tops.

Next came Hounslow Heath which is a large expanse of heath land and I spotted quite a lot of birds about. It is directly under the Heathrow flight path so it can be a bit noisy. I got my scanner out and listened to the air traffic controllers and ground staff going about their jobs. I passed through a wood called Donkey Wood and joined a river for the rest of the walk, it was pretty uninspiring as it looked polluted and ran down the back of houses and industrial buildings. I hit a dual carraige way and had to walk about 1km along the pavement to get to Hatton Cross station before I could tick that sections off.