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.

London Loop – South Coulsdon to Kingston upon Thames

Sir Francis Crick Institute

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.

Suburbia seen from the London Loop path

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.

Spaceship building

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.

Berrylands interesting building

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.

London Loop – Croydon to Coulsdon

London loop view near Croydon

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.

Strange pond with daisy circle

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.

Mini observatory on the London Loop

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.

London Loop – Orpington to Croydon

Saint Giles the Abbot Church Farnborough

My first free Saturday for a few weeks due to other commitments, so in order to keep the momentum up I headed to London for another section of the Loop walk. We were moving into newly refurbished offices at work and I felt a little guilty about not heading into work, but there were plenty of volunteers. My plan was to involve a tram, the official section was Orpington to West Wickham but that was 9 miles below my target of more than 10. The path passes Croydon station but would have been too far, but I noticed a yellow spot and rail symbol on the OS map which turned out to be a tram, and the path crossed the road at a stop, and the distance would be over the 10 mile mark, perfect!

The weather was blue skies but chilly, as I left the house to catch the 08:11 train from Berkhamsted, and would cloud over later. So the weather would be good for photo’s. The train was on time it was the fast train that took only 30 minutes.i n the ticket hall were two gentlemen in dark Gray suits with slightly oversized but slightly slimmer than usual brief cases, I was intrigued as to who they are and what was in the cases. They were in front of me in the coffee queue and I noticed that both had the same ties on, which had a symbol which I imagined was a masons symbol. I concluded they were masons and they had some sort of ritual item in the cases.

Shire Lane near Keston Village

The Northern line to Embankment got me to within walking distance of Charring Cross where the train to Orpington would be waiting. I did not realise the Northern line went to Charring Cross first so ingot off there, not sure if the walk is shorter from Embankment but that is what Google suggested! The Orpington 09:00 train was waiting on platform 6 I had 3 minutes to spare!

I dropped by the bakers I stopped at the end of the last section and bought an iced bun it went down very well. The path very soon goes rural party due to High Elms country park and partly because of a golf course, three miles in I could have been any where in southern England’s countryside. At four miles I passed the Met Police dog training centre entrance, and a garden centre with some friendly ducks. At the top of Holwood hill is the Wilberforce oak where Wilberforce was inspired to talk to Pitt about ending slavery. Then I passed through Keaton village and Hayes heath where there are some grand houses with a view of the valley. The path stays high in the spirit of the loop which takes in some of the high points in London.

Wilberforce Oak

I passed some shops and grabbed a sandwich and fruit for lunch, then continues on to Wickham church where a bench in the grave yard made a great place to stop. Whilst sat there a portly man walked up the hill in a pair of Speedos and a rucksack, and proceeded to go into the church! At mile 9 I was on a country road and heading through Shirley, then I headed up the steepest hill of the day where from a viewing platform I got a great view of London, it was a shame that the weather had turned a bit and the sky was overcast. Just set back from the top of Addington Hills was a house which when I got closer appeared to be a restaurant. It turned out to be a Chinese restaurant and Karaoke bar their website.

Tram to Croydon

From the top of the hill I descended through the woods and eventually came to a tram way and the platform. I had to ask someone which side to stand on to get the tram to Croydon. The tram was very swift especially when starting off, I guess due to the electric motors. I alighted at Croydon East station and checked out the train departures board. The quickest route to Euston was via Victoria but the trains heading that way appeared to be delayed so I got the train to London Bridge instead. There was one due in 3 minutes which had no stops in between. Looking out the window you pass close to Millwall football ground where the players were warming up and the fans were passing through the turnstiles.

London Bridge station is under the Shard and it is just a short walk to the underground entrance, where I got the Northern line all the way to Euston then the fast train to Milton Keynes which stopped at Berkhamsted.

Aylesbury Loop – Section 2 – Waddesdon to Little Kimble

Kimble Station

We had a barbecue to go to in the afternoon so I needed a local walk, I chose to do a second section of the Aylesbury Loop from Waddesdon to Little Kimble was about 10 mikes and would leave a short stretch left to fill n another day. Google maps suggested I could get a train from Little Kimble a small single track station, which seemed interesting. I checked out street view and there was only 4 parking spaces so I went with and alternative plan I’d necessary. I was aiming for the 08:56, and as luck would have it I had a choice of four spaces. Strangely the train only stopped at Aylesbury but went via High Wycombe according to the information board..

Big Tractor on the Waddesdon Estate

It turns out the train was from somewhere beyond Wycombe and had stopped there. The journey was quite slow and there were lots of unmanned level crossings in the middle of nowhere mainly for farm tracks. I had bought a permit to travel for £2.50 my estimate for the journey and at Aylesbury I had to wait to bu u a proper ticket. With my Railcard the one way ticket was £2.25 so I got some change back.

At Aylesbury bus station I had a short wait for the 17 bus to Waddesdon, the fare was £3.40, I reckon the train although a shorter journey was better value for  money. I grabbed a coffee and Eccles cake from the station kiosk. The bus was not very busy only three of us on it, and with one picked up on the way and two of us leaving at Waddesdon only 2 continued towards Bicester.

Aylesbury Vale View

The path is relatively well sign posted as you leave the village, and you quickly climb as you head towards the Waddesdon stud at the top of the hill. On the way up good views of the Aylesbury vale can be afforded. There were some very young colts with mares in the filed just next door to the stud, they showed little interest in me until I stood still at the fence, a couple of them enjoyed a nose stroke. The weather was hot and I had taken the precaution of an extra bottle of water.

Lunch at the Seven Stars

The path stays high and heads almost directly south as it descends into the valley with the River Thame in the bottom. On the way down I spotted no less that 20 Red Kites in the sky, I guess there must have been some harvesting going on out of sight as they usually attracts the graceful birds in numbers at the bottom was the grounds of Eythrope Manor, the driveways are very popular with cyclists. You get distant views of the manor from the path but it looks very similar in design Waddesdon manor. In front of the manor house there is a big lake made by controlling the flow of the river.

Combine harvesters were out doing there stuff, making the mopst of the recent dry spell to get the harvest in before the next days of rain. It looked ok for the driver as he was in an air-conditioned cab but the support workers must have suffered a bit out in the heat, as was I.

La Chouette Belguim Restaurant in Dinton

The path climbs again as you head towards Dinton, and I crossed the Thames road at the folly, which I believe a business bought to convert into a holiday let some years ago, little progress has been made. In Dinton I read the map wrong and ended up having to double back to get to the Seven Stars pub in the middle of the village. I had a half of the bitter to accompany my Cheddar and chutney sandwich with skinny chips, which I also washed down with a pint of orange juice and soda water.

As I left the pub I realised how hot it had become and the next part of the walk stated to become a bit of a chore as the heat made it a bit tedious. As I left the village I came across a Belgium restaurant called La Chouette (The Owl) that makes Dinton quite a culinary village with the pub and the Hermit. The path continues crossing fields as it passes through Ford and Kimble Wick. I was glad when I eventually took a left turn with only a few hundred yards to get back to the car. The Aylesbury loop has been completed.

London Loop – Section 2 – Old Bexley Village to Orpington

London Loop – rail crossing.

I was in two minds whether to do another section, but I woke up early, and felt ready to get up. Some toast and a quick check of train times and I left the house among for the 07:46 from Berkhamsted. I was early enough for one of the free parking spaces and the ticket was only £13.70 with my newly acquired Railcard.

The train was far from full, and I got a seat with a table. At Hemel a man got on carrying a ruck sack and a very large pipe cutter, I wondered where he was going and to do what? The official section 2 is only 7 miles from Old Bexley Village to Pets wood, however I was hoping to do a but further, anything over 10 would be a good start. I noticed that my FitBit battery was almost flat, and I wondered how long it would last before going completely, I was most likely going to miss out on steps and unfortunately steps mean prizes. There would be no prizes for me!

London Loop – Suburbia

As I was leaving the train at Euston when I noticed I had my T-shirt on inside out, I would have to find a chance to turn it the right way round. My journey was complicated by the closure of the Northern line at Euston, for track maintenance, I has to get on the Victoria line to Green Park to get on the Jubilee line, to North Greenwich then the 132 to Bexley.

The atmosphere was a bit misty but I was hoping for the sun to burn it away once I got started. I had a short wait at North Greenwich for the 132. The path follows the river Cray for quite a while and I spotted trout so it is probably pretty clean. Once it left the Cary it went through a few parks and nature reserves you really did not feel like you were inside the M25. Every so often it passed through suburbia with its manicured front gardens add to that the types of cars in the drives my guess is that it was a middle class area, i.e. commuter belt. I also spotted quite a few Parakeet and I soon got my ear in tune with their call. I did not expect to see them I thought they were more west London birds.

London Loop – Countryside

As I came to the edge of one estate I passed a field transected by a footpath with chain link fence keeping people out. There were three ponies asleep all three of them farting intermittently. The next section was almost exclusively in wood and eventually I passed Petts Wood the official end of section 2, but I carried on for a few more miles, my guess was that I did about 11 or 12 miles of the loop path. At the next main road I checked google maps for a bus but the signal was poor so I carried on to the next main road. There was a bus soon but I got the distinct impression that it was an ex bus route I I ended up walking another 3/4 mile to Orpinton Station. On the way I came across a small parade of shops like you do in traditional commuter belt. There was a picture framer that had a machine that cut out the cardboard inner frames which was interesting as it looked well made but self made. At the bakers I bought a Belgian iced bun which only cost a pound and tasted great after 12 miles of walking.

London Loop – Train at Orpington Station

At Orpington station I had a bit of a wait for a train, as I took the advice of the station staff and google and got the train to Charring Cross rather than Cannon Street. I grabbed a coffee and settled in for 25 minutes of Pokemon. The train journey was quite short as the train only stopped at Waterloo East before terminating a short distance on at Charring Cross where I alighted. I then had a dilemma I realised when I got to the underground that the Northern line was not stopping at Euston so I tried the bus instead, but on exiting the station the Ride London event was in full swing so I had to walk to the north of Trafalgar square where it was not obvious if the busses were running. So I dropped into the underground again and got the Northern line south to Embankment (a step backwards) where I could get the Victoria line to Kings Cross then the Circle to Euston Square.

I eventually made it with two minutes to spare for the 15:54 on platform 11. There was an announcement on the train that it was the train to Coventry not Northampton and the LED scrolling displays said that too. I got off with a few other people who were assured that it was the Northampton train so we got back on. It turns out it was the Northampton train and it did stop at Berkhamsted. Where I found the car and stopped for a curry from the M&S. I was home just before 17:00 it had been a long day, but another section had been completed.

London Loop – Section 1 – Erith to Bexley

London Loop – Thames mud warning

I wanted to keep up the Saturday walking and decided that the London Loop would give me a chance to see some parts of London I have never seen, as it goes around the capital and within the M25, and I usually go to the centre.

Quoting Wikipedia : “The London Outer Orbital Path — more usually the “London LOOP” — is a 240-kilometre (150 mi) signed walk along public footpaths, and through parks, woods and fields around the edge of Outer London, England, described as “the M25 for walkers”. The walk begins at Erith on the south bank of the River Thames and passes clockwise through Crayford, Petts Wood, Coulsdon, Banstead, Ewell, Kingston upon Thames, Uxbridge, Elstree, Cockfosters, Chingford, Chigwell, Grange Hill and Upminster Bridge before ending at Purfleet, almost directly across the Thames from its starting point. Between these settlements the route passes through green buffers and some of the highest points in Greater London.”

London Loop – River view with boat

I was up early as it would take just short of 2 hours to get to Write the start of the Loop. I comfortably made the 08:11 to Euston, and managed to get a free parking space. One of the good things about the walk is that it is accessible from stations within zones 1-6 which means a London Travelcard will cover it, so the cost would be at most £300 if it takes 15 sections, I would hope to improve on that by covering more than 10 miles on my section breakdown.

I got the Northern line to Bank then got a bit lost finding the right exit for Canon Street station, so had a 20 minute wait for the train to Plumstead. I filled the time playing Pokemon Go and I must say London is a treasure trove of Pokemon. I got on the long and very empty train, and whilst sat in an empty carriage I heard a phone go off. As there was no one on the train I tracked it down answered it, the man on the other end asked where I was, and I agreed to stand outside the carriage so that he could retrieve it for a passenger who had reported it lost. My good deed for the day done and it was only 09:27!

Whilst on the trin I was able to catch Pokemon whan we stoppped at stations, it was a good job I bought my extra capacity battery with me as it is a real drain on batteries. At Plumstead we had to get off the bus and use a replacement bus service which took us to Erith. It was not exactly at the start if the path but it was good enough for me being just a few hundred yards away.

The path keeps to the river Thames for a while and it felt like familiar territory, then followed the river Garent and then the river Cray, it seemed to be a very industrial area with industrial units and a lot of waste recycling. The patch was on a raise embankment and quite isolated I saw two cyclists and one walker in the three miles by rivers.

London Loop – If the bidge is not high enough dig down

The path follows the river Cray for quite some distance most of it through green areas and some it urban. In Crayford I cam across a parade of shops including no less than three barbers. I decided it was a good place to stop and got my self a portion of chips and a litre of water, then sat in a grassy area and listened to a gospel singing in a nearby building.

There was a lot of wildlife on the route I had already seen lots of gulls but failed to see and waders on the Thames mud, the odd Kestrel and the best of all was a Kingfsiher that was heading my direction only to turn around in mid flight really close by.

I had been checking Pokemon every so often and was getting lots of points, as well as lots of water based characters, not something you get around Aylesbury much. I eventually came across Hall Palace where some kids and dogs were making the most of the hot weather and paddling in the river Cray. Hall Palace it self is an independently run historic house which looking at it’s website looks quite interesting it even has Pokemon looking topiary bushes. EventuallI hit a busy dual carriage way where the signing was not great but I eventually found the path around and under to avoid having to cross the road.

London Loop – Crayford centre

The heat was really getting to me by this point so I decided to do the official first section rather than stretching it further as had been my plan. That will be one of the challenges doing the London Loop because public transport is all around it will be tempting to jump on a bus or train when I have had enough. On the Thames walk I was always walking back to my car and had little options for stopping early. I will however also have the option to carry on further if i’m feeling good.

Eventually I got to Bexley which appeared to be an affluent town, with lots of expensive cars in the traffic. I opted for the bus rather than the train as I wanted to see how good it would be for catching Pokemon. It turns out to be very good, if you get the timing right there is a Pokestop every few hundred yards and characters appear just as often. I knew I had to change buses to get to Euston and in front of the bus I was on was a 108 which went to Euston, I took the chance to jump off the one I was on and get on the 108 but it left before I had a chance to get on it. I waited for the next bus and got off at North Greenwich and decided it was getting late so I got on the Jubilee line and then the Northern line to Euston.

The 15:54 from Euston was air conditioned which was a real relief from the heat I had experienced all day. My experience of the first day (excluding the heat) was good and I do plan to complete the whole circuit despite the time it takes to get to the starting points, and then getting back.

Aylesbury Loop – Waddesdon to Aston Clinton east section

Wild flowers on Aylesbury Ring Walk

Having done the Thames Path and enjoyed I decided I wanted to do some more long distance paths, a few suggestions were made including the Ridgeway and the London Loop, however before getting into another big project I thought I would so some local stuff. Also a friend had arranged with me to go to the new motor museum at Gaydon but being bad at organising things he forgot, so it was not until 8:20 that morning that I found out he could not make it.

Aylesbury Ring Walk way marker

Local stuff was much easier because on this occasion I could get the bus then walk home. So I got the 09:00 to Aylesbury. My head phones has stopped working so o popped into pound land and grabbed a couple of pairs and a Toblerone for the walk. That meant I almost missed the bus to Waddesdon. The bus fare were £3.50 and £3.40 respectively.

The Aylesbury Ring path was very overgrown which made the walking tough because I has to raise my feet further than normal. A couple of miles I came across a field of cows that were very boisterous, and to cap it all there was a bull in the field, I took a detour and walked a couple of hundred yards along the road.

The Five Elms at Weedon Bucks

Later on a saw a time lapse opportunity so I sat down for 20 minutes while the camera clicked away. I saw two hares chasing each other as they crossed my path not far from Weedon. Further on I passed a cottage and farm yard an alarm went off I was not sure if it was me who set it off.

I came across as second field full of cows which were being very rowdy, I decided to climb over a fence and walk through the farm yard instead. Just outside Weedon the promised showers arrived, but as luck would have it as pub called The Five Elms appeared, perfect timing for a half and a cheese sandwich.A couple of locals were sat at the bar discussing the old hifi systems, and did a bad job of explaining how they worked.

Storm cloud on Aylesbury Ring Walk

When the rain had stopped and the sun came out I left the pub, and headed towards Rowsham then stopped for a rest at Hulcott. Last time I had been to Hulcott was to take a panorama of the church but it was being repaired so I think I only got external shots. Further on I passed through one of those solar farms that keep on cropping up everywhere. There was lots of CCTV cameras so I put my best smile on. Eventally I came to Puttenham and I took a slightly shorter route back home as I was in familiar territory.

The whole walk was 14 miles and took about 7 hours, not a good rate but I did stop a few times. My hips were no issue at all and apart from sore feet I could have walked further.