Eleven of us met up for this easy, flat walk along the River Lea from Ponders End to Bow or Stratford and it was great to see so many friends and catch up.
The walk was divided into 3 sections and the agreement was to take the fist section at a leisurely pace to accommodate some of the walkers. We strolled along the tow path in bright sunshine with the cloud formation following the route of the river.
We passed Picketts Lock passing canal boats moored at the edges and seeing some water fowl including cormorants stretching their wings and continued to Stonebridge Lock where we stopped for a coffee at the cafe.
All of us then continued to Markfield Park and the Markfield Beam Engine Museum Markfield who had an open day, https://www.mbeam.org/visit where we saw the earliest example of machinery to regulate the sewage which had previously been dumped into the River Lea causing outbreaks of cholera and typhoid.
Jonathan, Liz and Sara decided to retrace their steps to Totten Hale while the rest of us continued alongside the Lee Navigation where we saw many narrow boats and passed part of Hackney Marshes where cows were grazing. We then continued along the now trendy Hackney section towards Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Mike had forewarned me that West Ham were playing at home but as we were approaching Stratford the majority of us decided to take our chances and return home from there, although the numerous stewards directing the flow of people didn’t make this straightforward and probably added half a mile to our walk!
Humphrey continued on to Bow which was probably the more straightforward option.
Six of us met at Paddington and took the train out to Hanwell. Here we met Jenny, a new member who lived nearby and was joining us for her first walk. A short walk from the back of the station led us down to join the Capital Ring just where Brunel’s spectacular Wharncliffe viaduct crosses the river Brent.
The first half of the walk followed the river north through a series of parks, and a golf course where there was a notable lack of waymarks. We stopped for lunch at Perivale Park, and here Jenny left us to walk back to Hanwell. Jonathan left us soon after, at Greenford station.
The second half of the walk began by crossing the not entirely appropriately named Paradise Fields — nobody stopped at the McDonalds — then followed the Grand Union Canal towpath east for about half a mile.
We then turned north to reach to reach the walk’s literal high point, Horsenden Hill — almost 300 foot high, with a view north east to Wembley Stadium and its Arch. After Horsenden Country Park, a short walk through suburban streets took us to Sudbury Hill station on the Piccadilly Line.
Grand Union Canal from Brentford to The Fox pub and return Former barge freight and bargee homes site. Visit a flight of locks with many narrow boats. Meet at Brentford Grand Union Canal bridge. Exit Brentford railway station.
John and I met for the first time, but like old friends.Gentrification of Brentford forgotten, we entered arustic world simply by footfall and the passing oftime. Canal life is different by the joining together of watertransport, water living, folk art and nature. It’s funnyabout nature. Now brought to our attention as thoughit never existed. We welcomed The Fox pub for both John’s meal andmy permitted lunch box. Returning was an equalpleasure in reverse. Departing near the end, John and I both elbowedfor me to later enter the contrasting environmentat PC World on an errand. We’ll meet again another day on another walk.
It was Jean’s suggestion to do a short walk on a Sunday to bring together those who prefer shorter and longer walks. As a new local to the area I agreed to lead the walk on the day. I was a bit perturbed when I turned up at Highgate station and found there were 15 of us. However we soon came to an agreement on how to manage disparate walkers’ preferences and needs.
Those who wanted a shorter walk went directly to Queens Wood Cafe and, after a coffee break, straight to Highgate Wood Cafe for lunch. Those preferring more of a ramble went on longer circular walks in each wood. As everyone met up at both cafés, people could easily swap groups. After that we walked at the pace of the slowest walkers, and Joanna’s puppy Dilly, to leave Highgate Wood. There was the option of visiting an open garden with dramatic planting before rejoining the others at the East Finchley Festival in nearby Cherry Tree Wood. After looking round the stalls people could leave at a time of their choosing via East Finchley station.
Although we didn’t cover many miles, the walk meant that those who don’t always get a chance to meet up on walks all had plenty of time for a chat. The common response was that people enjoyed the walk. I would suggest that, having worked out this system of a combined short and slightly longer walk on the same day, we do it again sometime.
This walk was last done on a Sunday in February 2012 when Jonathan and I stumbled through mud, sleet and snow. This section of the Loop passes through the historic Enfield Chase. From Cockfosters Station (Piccadilly line) it cuts through a wooded part of Trent Park, once the home of the Sassoon family, ro reach Camlet Moat, site of a house dating from 1440. Then we strike N to follow Salmon’s Brook through the Ridgeway farmland. After a derelict farm and some horticultural glasshouses we cross Hilly Fields Park, again by a brook. A walk through the woods of the Forty Hall Estate takes us to our destination of Myddelton House, offering a teashop and horticultural exploring. Exits for home include continuing one km on the Loop E to Turkey Street (Overground to Liverpool Street) or walking S into Enfield Town for a range of buses and trains. The 307 bus goes W to Oakwood for anyone wanting the Piccadilly tube homeward; Great Northern overground trains from Enfield Chase or Gordon Hill run to Finsbury Park and Kings Cross.
This eight-mile walk is mostly on rough paths, tracks and grassland; there are five stiles. There are cafes at Trent Park, Forty Hall, Clay Hill and at our end-point in Myddelton House grounds. There are public toilets at Trent Park and Myddelton House. The TfL guide to this section is at https://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-loop-section-17-v2.pdf