The London Loop is a walking route of 150 miles length around the outer boundaries of London split into 24 sections. I am currently walking the loop and this is a blog of a few sections. See tfl.gov.uk/modes/walking/loop-walk for more details.
Following previous experiences I ignored the dire weather forecast for today and put my faith in the xcweather forecast - light rain in the morning finishing around 11am then dry until evening. Unfortunately the BBC were right this time...
Today's trip was the first part of London Loop section 16, from Borehamwood to Barnet, 7 miles or so. So after an uneventful trip on the train (after Wednesday's chaos at Waterloo which you may have heard on the national news today everything was clockwork) I arrived at Elstree and Borehamwood station bang on 11am. Exactly at that moment the heavens opened and the first half hour or so was in quite heavy rain. I was using a new route described in the guide book which avoids a mile of dull road walking which was certainly better except for first having to navigate through a building site.
On this new route you pass the Armada Beacon which was one of a chain of beacons built for the Spanish Armada, this one on Woodcock Hill. If it hadn't been raining I would have spent more time here. But I pressed on, then got lost on this unmarked new route, eventually reaching Barnet Lane and coming back to the actual Loop.
This is Scratchwood, an ancient oak woodland but better known for Scratchwood services on the M1. If Junction 3 of the M1 had ever been built instead of the services this whole bit of woodland would have been destroyed by an M1-A1 link road. Quiet and peaceful but not for long (at least the rain has eased a bit).
The nice bit of woodland soon leads the this, the A1 Barnet Way. The Loop does its best to cross all the major roads it has to pass but this one, along with the A30 by Heathrow, are the ones it fails, quite definitely the low point of the day. To reach Moat Mount Open Space (you can see its sign opposite) it is necessary to walk the best part of a mile along the A1 and back to cross via a subway conveniently positioned for golfers but not where it is needed for Loopers. Not visible on the photo but they have erected a 3 foot chicken wire fence on top of the central reservation to deter jaywalkers. So gritting my teeth I plodded along the adjacent path seeing nobody but one dog walker (!) and loads of litter in the two laybys. Soon a past memory when I got to my goal but the roar of the traffic seemed to extend a long way into the woodland the other side.
So into Moat Mount Open Space (site of the Battle of Barnet in the wars of the roses) and then more woodland where we pick up the Dollis Valley trail, into Totteridge Fields and after a little while pass a pond that is the source of Dollis Brook. Somewhere along here was also Livingstone Cottage where the famous explorer lived but I seem to have missed it.
The Dollis Brook which I followed for a couple of miles was never very big and most of the time was not visible through the undergrowth. This is one of the better shots of it. After a while the houses of Barnet start to appear on the left, Barnet seems quite a sprawling place with the suburbs seemingly going on for ever.
And passing one of these suburban houses what did I see - two Bracknell Transport Services vans moving furniture into one of the houses. Whether they had actually come all the way from our metropolis I don't know, they only had a mobile number on them. Anyway, back into civilisation when I reached the main road through Barnet, the A1000 Great North Road - busy with traffic, footpath just on one side with a couple of nasty junctions to cross, totally different from the quiet country. Popped into the Queens Arms for a rather belated lunch and the nice barman said he knew Bracknell well and used to work in our Coral Reef leisure centre a few years back. Small world. He was also very aware of what the London Loop was and the day before had had a large number or walkers there. I think I was the only one today. Guide book going in the airing cupboard overnight but I rather suspect I will have to buy a new copy - they make if from recycled paper which sadly turns into papier mache with just a few drops of rain. Anyway, great day.