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 21 Havering Park to Harold Wood - October 3rd 2019

Section 20  →Section 22

Another day, another leg of the London Loop. The weather put paid to a trip last week but today looked fine until storm Lorenzo arrives this evening. Today I completed section 20 from where I had left off last week and then section 21 - from Havering Park to Harold Wood in Essex. Good trip up - Mike and his wife Lynda joined me on the train, they were doing Capital Ring section 2 today. Tube to Liverpool St then Greater Anglia to Romford where I caught the 294 bus back to Havering Park. Another looper got off the bus but after a few words left him to sort out his backpack. Only loopers seem to use the end of route bus stop, but a large party of school children had got off at the stop before.

Rather fewer photos than normal today. The battery in my camera decided to go low, so I quickly put in the spare I had with me only to find that totally dead. But managed to get enough on the other battery before it finally died. Then a little further on the camera dropped out of my pocket and I had a desperate hunt for it, successfully found 100m back on the path. One of those days...

While I sat on the bench sorting out the camera battery I was awarded by this lovely view back to central London far away across Havering Park.

Then into Havering Country Park along Wellingtonia Avenue with its magnificent trees of that name. Not that they compare with our local Wellingtonia Avenue down the road in Crowthorne.

After a short walk I reached the village of Havering-atte-Bower, which is the official end of section 20. the top picture is the stable block of Havering Park Riding School - I had passed quite a few horses and riders. Then the famous stocks on the village green - the notice says they date from 1829 but that there was an earlier version. Now on to the 5 miles of section 21.

The first half of this leg is largely along open farm fields, a bit muddy in places and only sporadic fingerposts. In places very badly maintained, fortunately you could walk around this overgrown gate. A bit further along the path follows a horse paddock/field with an (assumed live) electric fence. I thought I was following the correct path but found myself blocked by this fence with the stile I had to cross at the other side. I had to carefully crawl underneath it, watched of course by the ever curious horses.

A rather nice view across that field, you can just about see the North Downs in the distance some 25 miles away. I had not noticed the fallen tree at the time

I had to gingerly cross this bridge, maintenance long overdue it seems... Some of the stiles also were in pretty bad condition, and I had to take extra care on a couple which were far too high for my short legs.

This is about the last bit of real country on this section. Shortly after I reached my lunch stop, the Deer's Head at Noak Hill. This pub has mixed reviews but since I was peckish gave it a try. A large mixed grill plus free drink for £9 did the job, I have no complaints but wonder how they can keep going at those prices. Thereafter the walk is largely in suburban Noak Hill, Harold Hill and Harold Wood with the loop trying to follow small bits of greenery between. The Harold here refers to King Harold of 1066 who it seems owned the estate of Havering-atte-Bower. This didn't work out as planned. Part of the walk was meant to go through woodland adjacent to the Carters Brook but it was so overgrown that that was impossible and as suggested in the guide book I followed the parallel road. Then I got confused with the directions through Harold Hill Central Park, now a big leisure centre, and ended up on the main road rather than the path through greenery. Whatever, I decided it was easiest just to follow that road, across the busy A12 at traffic lights, and continue the other side directly to Harold Wood station for the trip back to Liverpool Street. Section 21 completed, three more to go.

Not quite the end of the story. The 1635 from Waterloo, having left five minutes late, ground to a halt just outside Vauxhall. After 10 minutes the guard announced there was a fault on the train and we all had to get off at Vauxhall. The full train of passengers were then directed to the Weybridge train on the next platform, which then became VERY full. Another wait and change at Clapham Junction I finally arrived home around 1815 - Delay Repay claim already submitted for the half hour delay, but it was a nice day regardless and stayed dry.

Section 20  →Section 22