Monday, 26 November 2012

London LOOP-Walk from Hainault Forest to Chingford 12.03.12

I set off from home walking half mile to the bus stop to get the 247 bus to Hainault Forest. I planned to continue with walking the London Loop having already completing section 24 (Purfleet to Rainham). I still have section 23,22 and 21 to do having missed these but will go back and complete these soon before continuing in reverse order from 18 etc... I started at Hainault Forest as an earlier walk on here covers part of section 21 and 20.Route 20 is supposed to start at Havering Atte Bower.
I got off the bus at Hainault Forest where it was still very foggy. Once I'd started walking I first found out how wet and muddy the ground was and wished I'd worn my boots as the water seeped through the fabric and I had wet socks for the day and secondly that my cameras batteries were dead and had to make do with the mobile phones camera for the day.

A foggy start at Hainault Forest.
 In 1130 when much of Essex was woodland, Henry I, son of William the Conquer, designated this area The Royal Forest of Essex. It was used exclusively for the kingly sport of hunting. Hainault Forest Country Park is a surviving fragment of that vast verdant landscape as in 1851 Parliament gave its consent to land being drained and fenced and 100,000 trees were felled. Fortunately, Hainault Forest has now been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest

 I walked through long wet grass through the country park before crossing the road into Chigwell Row Wood.Surprisingly I have never set foot in here before and will come back another day to  look around the rest of the wood.

 I continued through the wood and out the other side and stopped by the pond on the edge of Lambourne Rd.

I walked along LambourneRoad, but didn't bother to have the map out at this point and made a error instead of going along Chapel Lane I took Vicarage Road. I rejoined the Loop path at the end of this road so wasn't a big mistake.

Once in Chigwell I passed Ye Old Kings Head pub which is now a restaurant called Sheesh.
 Ye Old Kings Head  is an ancient timber framed public house. Ye Olde Kings Head has the title of being the most famous pub in Essex. Its impressive facade inspired Charles Dickens to include it in his novel Barnaby Rudge. It was also the favoured watering hole of the legendary 18th century highwayman, Dick Turpin, who started his criminal career, it is said, poaching deer from the nearby forests of Hainault and Epping.

 Opposite is an attractive church of St Marys.

 I continued along the road passing the Metropolitan Police Sports Club and then turning right onto a road that takes me over the M11.

 Shortly after I turned right onto a road that passes the David Lloyd Gym and into The Roding Valley Nature Reserve.

The Roding Meadows Nature Reserve constitutes the largest surviving area of traditional river flood-plain grassland in Essex. They have probably looked much the same for the last 1000 years. Comprising 56.6 hectares (140 acres) the meadows are home to over 250 wild flowers, grasses and rushes as well as birds such as kingfishers and kestrels and animals like the water vole.
 I follow the path down to the River Roding that the path follows for a short distance before we cross the river by a  bridge.

The paths now sweeps along the banks of a lake in the reserve.This lake which was dug to provide the nearby M11 motorway with gravel.

The path leaves the reserve and crosses through a few roads in the Loughton area before crossing over a bridge that spans the tube line.You are the lead out into some fields. The path goes straight with trees on either side and passes Linder’s Field Local Nature Reserve on the right before gently descending to a kissing gate.
Half of this 3.6 hectare wildlife site is ancient woodland, and is particularly notable for bluebells and Wild Service Trees while two small ponds host communities of Toads, Common Frog and Smooth Newt.

After crossing a couple more roads and through another wood, we emerged on a road opposite The Warren Public House.

The path continues alongside the pub across an area what is known as The Warren.

The path now follows Rangers Road where I stopped to take a picture of The Royal Forest Hotel.

Next to this was the Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge,a white timber framed Elizabethan building .
Built for King Henry VIII in 1543, Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge is the only remaining timber-framed hunting lodge left standing in England.It was used as a grandstand to watch the hunt and possibly to shoot deer with crossbows.The walls of the main building were completely open to give hunters more freedom with their bows. On Hunting days,colourful flags were hung outside and inside the building. This unique historic building is open to the public Wednesday to Sunday from May to September and open Saturday and Sunday only from October to April. Hence sadly it was closed today.

 After this it was a short walk to Chingford train station where I caught a 179 bus to Gants Hill and a 66 back to Romford.A total of about 9 miles in all.