Dave Sergeant

This 5 mile walk from Inner London Ramblers is between Becontree and Upney stations in East London. It is the first part of a circular walk and passes through no less than five parks and an area of London I was not familiar with..

The walk starts at Becontree underground station on the District Line just past Barking and I arrived there around 11am. It was a short walk to the first of the parks, Parsloes Park, the largest park in the borough of Barking and Dagenham. A very pleasant one as well dominated by a large lake in the centre.

After a short stretch of suburban streets through the Becontree Estate the next park is reached, Valence Park. This park and its house are named after Agnes de Valence who lived here in the 1300s. Around the house is a partial moat (currently closed off from access) and some impressive birds I seem to have disturbed.

The house itself dates from the 1400s and contains a museum about the local area and Barking Abbey. It was closed for lunchtime so I had lunch myself in the adjacent cafe. Outside is a bronze Ford Capri but I couldn't find anything about it.

Beyond the house is the herb garden and a relic of the past, a washing mangle.

Out of Valence Park and a lengthy stretch of suburban roads eventually reaching a junction where there are two churches, St Thomas's (right) and the Catholic St Vincent de Paul (left). Then I was soon in the next park, Goodmayes Park.

Goodmayes Park also has a large lake. The second part of the park has sporting facilities.

Across the road into Orchard Playing Fields, formally Goodmayes Park Extension, named after tree planting that took place in 2018. It seems one of the two pavilions the walk guide mentioned was destroyed in a fire in 2021.

Then into the next park, Mayesbrook Park. Mayes Brook flows alongside here but somewhat hidden in parts behind vegetation. After my explorations of London's hidden rivers this might be called an 'unhidden' river. It was previously culverted but in 2008 was uncovered to become a proper brook.

The large Mayesbrook Arena, built and used for judo and basketball in the 2012 Olympics is in the centre of the park. Alongside several sunken areas or 'swales' to collect rainwater from the arena as part of a sustainable urban drainage system.

The lower part of the park is a nature reserve with the North and South lakes. Along with Mayes Brook which flows alongside this made a very pleasant end to the day's walking. Just a short walk from here to Upney station and the journey home.

That journey however didn't quite go to plan. Due to a suspected trespasser on the track our train sat at Clapham Junction and a one hour journey took two, it being 5.30 by the time I got home. I suppose you could call it one of those days.

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