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!
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 http://sheeshrestaurant.co.uk/
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
We were meeting up with the Pearce’s in the afternoon, so I thought I would get a cheeky walk in in the morning. After a bit of pondering I decided to try walking from American to Wendover. I dropped Helen off at church then headed to Wendover where I found a space on the high street. At the station I found out that there was replacement buses running from Aylesbury to Great Missenden, I thought about bailing out. An ex colleague was waiting for a bus too so I took the opportunity to catch up.
A Motts travel coach turned up on time and ferried us to Great Missenden station where a train was waiting. I did not realise that Google had sent me to the station at 09:32 for the bus because it knew there was a bus replacement service, the train is normally a bit later. The train left Missenden at the time the train would normally leave.
The weather was damp but not raining, overcast with little prospect of the sun coming out, I would have to look for fungi to take photos of. on the train I sat with my ex colleague and we chatted.
At Amersham I alighted and went to the kiosk and asked for an americano, he grabbed the filter coffee jug, I turned him down and headed for the high street to find a proper americano. I noticed a oldish guy in walking gear who had been on the train, I asked if he was walking back to Wendover, he wasn’t he was geocaching, I explanation Ned how I used to but I fell out of love when it got serious with puzzle ones etc. I liked it when all you had to do was find a box. He said he liked the puzzle ones and was going to do a sweep of the Amersham area caches.
He headed to a cafe for breakfast and I grabbed a decent coffee and we went our separate ways, I also went down the high street and forward for an iced bun and a snickers for the journey.
I walked through a well to do housing estate with large houses then was soon crossing muddy crop fields, then I was in pastures and the odd woods for the rest of the walk.At about 7 mikes I stopped for a rest at The Lee village green.
I now joined the Chiltern link, which seems to join Chesham to the Ridgeway or Wendover, taking in Coombe hill. As I got within a couple of miles of Wendover j was in familiar territory. As I descending down to the level of Wendover I came across a couple of air vents and a seriously concreted over trap door. Not sure what it was but I would love to know.
By the time I had got to Wendover I had just passed the 10 mile mark, which had been my estimate. I found the car and drove home, and had time to cook a Dahl before R&I turned up with the kids. We wandered over to the park and checked out a football match for a while them had a beverage at the cage in the park. By the end of the say I had done a 60,000 step weekend, I think it is a new record for me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A bit of a milestone thus section as I was about to hit the Thames again, so that is kind of halfway. It was a going to be a tough one because the distance is more than 12 miles, but I figured if I start out early I would have plenty of scope for rests. I was up at 7 and resisted the urge to switch my PC on and be distracted by the internet, I was aiming for the 08:11 but when I got to the station I was in good time for the 08:01, which was slower but got to Euston 4 minutes earlier.
I expected to use the Victoria line but Google maps suggested an alternative, using the Thames link from St Pancras, which meant a 5 minute walk. It gave me an opportunity for another London terminus tick and a chance to see the Sir Francis Crick Institute building. I noted that the cafeteria had a few two people tables but mainly a few long tables with chairs down each side. I guess that it means that people will mix more because they end up sitting next to people. In my work cafeteria all the tables are round and you end up with the same people on the tables each day. With a long table you still get the groups but they are sat next to other groups rather than being isolated. I quickly took some pano shots as the building is tall and hard to get into one shot.
At the St Pancras I quickly found the right platform and my timing was perfect, the train pulled away about 30 seconds after I boarded. The Thames link crosses the river close to Tate Modern in fact the station is over the river and you get a great view of the gallery, The Shard and The City buildings named after thing you find normally in a kitchen. The train went as slow as it did last week and after crossing the Thames soon joined the same set of rails. I theorised that it always went slow but would speed up when it got away from all the junctions and was speeding through the countryside to Brighton.
The route out of Coulsdon was quite well signposted and although it starts off in the town soon you are in the countryside. At the edge of Coulsdon I came across a funeral directors called W A Truelove & Son Ltd which I thought was an interesting name. Close the Oak Park I cheated a bit, missing off a dog leg to avoid a couple of hundred yards of road, and I thought I had missed the Mayfield lavender. I had but not only was the place closed but the lavender was obviously in hibernation with hardly a purple shade evident in the field. There was however a red phone box and a wooden gazebo, which I guess photographers use as props. The path I took did run along one edge of the field.
I rejoined the path at a road crossing and entered Oak Park, it started to rain so I took the opportunity for a rest and a coffee in the café, in the hope that the rain would stop when I ventured outside again. The BBC had promised rain but when I checked the latest predictions it was more optimistic. I had to cross a Golf course with dual carriageway between first and second 9 which must be a pain for the players. The LOOP is not well sign posted across the course, and I clearly looked lost too, as a cuple of golfers asked me if I was, not that they could tell me where the path was!
Banstead Down is an SSSI and I saw my third Jay of the day, the first one in a front garden. I also noticed holes with acorns in the bottom evidence of squirrels and jays preparing for winter. The Golf course dumped me into a housing estate, which looked quite posh. Then I noticed that I was in the borough of Epsom and Ewell, and a sign informed me that it was twinned with Chantilly France.
Across Warren Farm Woodland Trust I had to keep to the paths as there were of dog walkers and shit when you are off the paths. I got to Ewell Castle School.ans then into the centre of the town it was lunchtime and the first good establishment I came across was an Italian, it was empty which was a bit worrying, but it looked good and they has spaghetti di mare on the menu. I needn’t have worried as no sooner as I has orders more customers started to arrive. They served bread in a basket which was a nice touch, I ordered a Perrier to go with my lunch which turned out to be a 75cl, I was not carrying water so managed to drink it all. The spaghetti was excellent, and I lingered a while to finish off he water and avoid a stitch when I did get back on the Loop. As I left the restaurant the sun was shinning.
I walked though Bourne Hall which now has an interesting spaceship of a building housing a museum of local history. A sign told me I had 7 and a quarter miles to Kingston. I passed East Ewell station and realised I was off the path so I ended up taking a longer route and missing a kilometre of the path, but I was soon back in n the Loop path.
Next up was Hogsmill NR and Jays number 5 and 6. The path follows the very long reserve for quite a few miles. At one point the path went along a road rather than keeping to the rivers edge, seemed like a pointless detour so I kept to the river. Before the detour I stopped at a Toby Inn for a lemonade and to rest my feet.
Crossed dual carriageway with a double back to use a subway, then into Elm Wood meadows. The path continues to follow the river Hogsmill until you finally hit a housings estate then you go under a railway, but not before spotting 9 Parakeets in a flock. I passed Hogsmill sewage treatment which smells of piss, so I did not hang around. Next up was Surbiton cemetery and some near by stone masons. The outskirts of Kingston came swiftly after and my feet had had enough, 15 miles seems to be my upper limit. I weaved my way up Kingston high street dodging the shoppers, and found the station. I has a painful run to get to platform 3 for the 16:18 to Waterloo, it saves me waiting 15 minutes for the next train.
I got off at Vauxhall and got the Victoria line to Euston then made the mistake of thinking I could get a bottle of water from M&S (no queue at the checkout) and get to platform 8, I missed the train by seconds, so had to get one 20 minutes later. As it happens the second one almost caught up with the first one, so little re was lost. All in all a good day where I managed 15 miles, which although probably a bit too far is good to know I can.
Holidays and other stuff had got in the way of London Loop sections, although it was a Sunday the weather looked good so I got up early and headed to Berkhamsted, to do the section from Croydon to Coulsdon.
On Saturday I did a trip to Banbury to have a look at the North Signal box, which was to be demolished on Monday. I invited my dad and Helen’s dad and they both enjoyed the opportunity, to have a go at pulling the leavers, something they had never got to do whilst young train spotters.
It was cold and overcast when I got to the station, but on the journey to Euston on the 08:40 the clouds started to clear. The Victoria line took me to Victoria station where I had time to get a coffee before the slightly delayed 08:32 to Brighton could take me to East Croydon. I’m not sure if it was because the train was delayed or not but they announced that it was not stopping at some of the scheduled stations, and then proceeded to stop many times between stations. Eventually slightly later than advertised the train got to East Croydon and I alighted.
It took a while to find the tram stop as I had exited from the station via a side entrance and the tram stops are at the main one. The trams have quite an acceleration on them and quickly get up to speed, there should be more adoption of them in my opinion. I got off at the Combe Lane stop and quickly found the LOOP path.
The path is again surprisingly rural sticking to woods, meadows and down land, I eventually got to Selsdon where a parade of shops was a great place to get some lunch, as I was travelling light with no camera bag. I grabbed an egg sandwich Snickers, and a bottle of water at the cooperative, crossing back over the road I noticed a .non-branded fried chicken takeaway, and so I popped in GR some chips to go with my lunch. The menu pictures showed MacDonald style chips so I ordered a large portion. When the portion was handed over it was a large box full of chips the type of they use to hold the chicken meals they sold. I tried my best but could not finish them, and I had to save my egg sandwich for later. I later lost the Snickers from a hole in the carrier bag I was using.
The path was really against the grain of the landscape constantly crossing hills and valleys rather than running along the valleys. It was as if I was in the Chilterns with chalk downs and clifss evident. A very just be landscape looking really great in the autumn sun.
I passed through quite a few City of London Corporation park lands, and a could of National Trust parcels of land. Henley comments n also has an airfield in the middle of of it but there was no vantage point from the path nor any evidence of activity. It was however still owned by the ministry of defence.
The final mikes after Coulsdon Common involved walking through or past some strange names such as Happy Valley, Devilsden woods and For thing Downs which was about mile and a half of hill with great views all around. Just before Happy Valley I came across a couple with several dogs including two Labradors one of the came bounding towards me followed bt the second one which was a bit bigger, and proceeded to body slam me against the inside of my right knee, almost taking me out out in the process. I was lost for words at the time, the bloke looked concerned but the woman just said “Labradors are boisterous aren’t they?”, I just carried on walking with a bit of a limp. Had I been a smaller person or someone who was frail they definitely would have floored the person. The last mile was down hill and got me to Coulsdon South rail station, where I had a half hour wait for a train to London Bridge, which stopped first at East Croydon.
I has a rush from the mainline station, with only minutes to spare to get to the underground then to the right platform at Euston for the fast train to Berkhamsted. I had time to grab the Snickers I owed myself and a bottle of water before running to the platform to get on the train. There were not many spare seats but I managed to find a single spare seat.
All in all a a good day out with lovely landscapes and beautiful skies. Quite a long walk at over 12 miles for the day.