Dave Sergeant

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.

London Loop Section 18 Enfield Lock to Chingford - August 16th/21st 2019

Section 17  →Section 19

As will be seen below this leg, although relatively short at under 5 miles, took too attempts to complete.

August 16th

After a smooth trip up to town then from Liverpool Street to Enfield Lock station I set out where I had left off last time. A last look at the Turkey Brook before leaving it, very overgrown here.

This is Enfield Lock itself, on the Lee Navigation. It seems a very deep lock. There were a couple of girls going through the lock with their boat, one on the boat down below and another controlling the mechanism above. They had to shout to each other to get it sorted (you can just about see the action). I also had a quick chat with the girl below, we just about heard each other.

Sadly this is about as far as I got. A little further along when I left the Lee Navigation and joined the old River Lea (natural things Lea, artificial Lee) I found a big barricade across the way - 'footpath closed, follow diversion'. Thames Water are building an eel trap on the inlet to the King George V reservoir. The first diversion sign was clear, the second had been broken in half by the locals and ambiguous. Found a helpful young lady who spent 15 minutes trying to help me and we failed, never even saw another diversion sign. (I have since found the likely diversion, which goes right through Enfield Island Village (built on what was the old armaments factory) to a bridge over the next bit of the Lea). So I abandoned the walk, went the one mile back to the station and spent the rest of the day in Central London. Maybe a good decision as by the time I got there the forecast rain had well and truly set in.

August 21st

Now having worked out the diversion round the closed footpath and with a large scale map of the area I set out again. Good journey up to town until I got to the Waterloo and City line - crowd on the platform, no sign of any train and no announcements. After 5 minutes I gave up, fought my way through the now very large crowd down the corridor, and went via the Bakerloo line - this is much slower and I arrived at Liverpool Street literally seconds before the 10.42 to Enfield Lock left - fortunately the chap at the gate let me through. So arrived as planned at the start just after 11am. Looking later I see they had signal/points issues on the drain, pity they didn't tell us.

The first bit, which I had done last week, was quickly walked. No boats going through the lock this time but the Swan and Pike Pool just past it which was devoid of wildlife last week had a couple of young ducks swimming in it - no swans also no pikes as it seems these have long left the pond of the name.

Then to the closed path along the Lea River. I had worked out the diversion route through Enfield Island Village so this was not an issue. There was no sign of the half broken diversion sign I had seen last week and I saw just one other sign along the route. The closed path at the far end has a nice sign saying 'we hope you enjoyed your visit'....

The diversion route took me via a different bridge over the River Lee Flood Relief Channel (artificial hence Lee) with the blocked bridge in the distance. Then after a walk along the far bank of this I rejoined the official loop route, now in Essex for a while. Initially past Sewardstone Marsh Nature Reserve, across some fields and up the quite steep Barn Hill. Unlike other sections much of this was in open country rather than woodland.

Suddenly on top of Barn Hill comes this stunning view over the Lea Valley and the huge King George V reservoir. The diversion had made me miss the views of the reservoir earlier but this certainly made up for it. Although it gets a brief mention in the official TFL instructions, Colin Saunders in his London Loop book which I was following doesn't even mention it.

Then after a short section of road (no pavement, a bit scary) I reached the second highlight of the day. Gilwell Park as some of you may know is the headquarters of the Scout movement. Now hosting major scouting jamborees and other events during the year it seemed relatively busy yesterday. The second shot is of the Leopard Gate carved by sculptor Don Potter in 1928, made of tree trunks and a tribute to him on a placard alongside.

But that was soon past and the rest of the leg was first up and down the steep Yardley Hill then into The Hawk Wood which is on the western edge of Epping Forest. A further stretch of woodland took me down to Chingford where I lunched at the Holly Trail Cafe conveniently placed right at the end of leg 18 - it used to be called the Tee House because of the golf course opposite. Nice lunch - sausage and chips turned into sausage and hash browns as it seems they had run out of chips... Then an uneventful trip home on the tube and train - it seems Reading Festival is on this weekend, a group of four lads got on with enough luggage to sink a ship, but looks like they were going to enjoy their weekend.

Only six sections left now!

Section 17  →Section 19