9th June 2016: London Loop, Hatch End to Elstree

On a distinctly warm day six Red Loopers traversed the Herts/ GLA border south of Watford. We walked through fields and woods with some spectacular views; open pastures ablaze with buttercups; other farmland ceded to the “good walk spoiled” golfing fraternity. Approaching Grim’s Dyke House (once the home of WS Gilbert) brought us into a rhododendron jungle with no view of the mansion, just dank ponds and a muddy ditch, but then fine views south into town and north almost to the Chilterns from Stanmore Common. After Bentley Priory (until recently HQ of RAF Fighter Command) a long mile north across flower-filled prairie took us to a tunnel under the M1, and along the busy Elstree Road into the Country Park surrounding the tranquil Aldenham Reservoir. Afternoon tea there included scones and cream. The family farm and pony enclosure prompted thoughts of the many grandchildren we don’t have. Then on across more fields and past Roman Watling Street to thread our way through Elstree Golf Course and find the station. This was a demanding ten mile hike, but in brilliant sunshine and across remarkably unspoiled farmland and commons. All within a sling shot of privileged plutocrat metroland. It was kind of the toffs and spivs to share these idyllic green spaces with us. Next time (on 30th June, not referendum day) we will tackle Elstree to Cockfosters, another ten mile stage.

Steve Butters
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