Monday, March 26, 2018

Hatch End to Elstree

Finally, FINALLY, after weeks of bad weather and back pain and traveling, I was able to get back on the LOOP yesterday. I walked a 10-mile section from Hatch End to Elstree.

Can you believe it was almost two months ago when I last stepped off the trail and had lunch at The Moon and Sixpence pub (above) in Hatch End? Seriously, time flies. I didn't get a shot of it then but I photographed it yesterday as I headed back to the trailhead.

From Hatch End I walked through some marginal woodlands, across fields and along a busy road before coming to this peculiar bit of land. The trail was prominently labeled with warning signs advising us that asbestos was present. (Apparently asbestos doesn't bother the teasels!)

Turns out this plot is known as Valley View Farm, a former piggery -- closed in the late '90s -- where people dumped construction waste and other debris for years. There was a plan to build houses here (!) but that sensibly got scrapped. Apparently the waste is still hanging around. I know asbestos in the ground isn't going to hurt me, unless I get down on my hands and knees and dig in it and inhale it, but still -- it felt a little unsettling to walk through this area.

And clearly dumping is still a problem. Kitchen cabinets, anyone?

From there, I walked through a wooded area near the "Grim's Dyke," an iron-age ditch that was constructed for a purpose we apparently don't fully understand today. The woods here were beautiful, with ponds and rhododendron and towering redwood trees.

At the center of it all was the Grim's Dyke Hotel, once the elegant and stately home of William S. Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. In fact, Gilbert died on this property, while swimming in one of the ponds in 1911. The hotel looks amazing -- I'd love to stay there with Dave and Olga! (The web site says they take "small dogs." Is Olga small? I'm not sure.)

From there I walked to a scenic overlook known as the Harrow Viewpoint. It wasn't very scenic on this particular morning, which was foggy and gray, and the place was strewn with an incredible quantity of litter. (Dave theorized that it's probably a Saturday-night hangout for local teenagers, and he's probably right -- so Sundays may be particularly messy.)

I found a memorial to "Fabian," which I think must be related to this incident, in which a young man and his girlfriend were recently found dead at the overlook. (Typical of some news articles, that one raises more questions than it answers -- the two "were found asleep," it says, with the cause of death still under investigation. How they went from "asleep" to dead I'm not sure, unless "asleep" is meant in the euphemistic sense.)

From there I passed a peculiar pub called "The Case is Altered." Strangely, it's one of several pubs in the UK with that name. Why it's called that I'm not sure -- there's a Ben Jonson play by that title from the early 1600s, but the signs showed soldiers in some kind of military campaign. It didn't appear to be open.

From there the path wound along roads and across farmland. What is that contraption?

I passed some contented-looking horses munching, and reclining on, their hay.

I stopped at a park near the Aldenham Reservoir for a completely tasteless egg and mayo sandwich. Then I pressed on to Elstree and Borehamwood, the home of film and TV studios where "Star Wars," the early Indiana Jones movies and "2001: A Space Odyssey," among others, were filmed. There's a big mural outside the train station commemorating the show-business history of the area, featuring the faces of Elizabeth Taylor, Spencer Tracy, Roger Moore and Christopher Lee.

From there I took the Thameslink train back to West Hampstead -- a straight shot and just four stops away! Probably the easiest commute to or from a trailhead I will ever have during this LOOP adventure.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

Great that you are back on The Loop Steve. I love these walking blogposts and it's commendable that you decided to take on this challenge. However, I believe you are wrong about the third picture. I think it's a public art installation - "Disconnection" by Julian A. Nobhead.

Colette said...

This is the first time I've seen your walking blogpost and I really enjoyed it. So much to see. Thanks for sharing.

Ms. Moon said...

These walking adventures make for excellent photos in my opinion! Thank you for sharing them, Steve.
I'm reading a book right now by Sue Townsend and the protagonist lives in a converted pig sty and his address is "The Piggery". His wife hates that tremendously. As one can imagine.

Vivian said...

Am I the only one who thinks those horses look adorable, and well-loved, in their coats? What a nice person they have, one who makes sure they won't catch a chill on a dreary day. I also wonder why they can't make horse coats look a bit spiffier, say, with leopard prints or snazzy stripes. Horses are very sensitive creatures, and might appreciate a little style.

I agree with everyone else in that your Loop journals are so interesting to read and "see". But honestly, what kind of creep dumps kitchen cabinets in a public wood? That makes me furious. All you have to do is find out which local recently got his/her kitchen renovated and haul somebody into court.

You are indeed totally trans-Atlantic if you now call "egg salad" an "egg and mayonnaise".

ellen abbott said...

how cool is this, that these walking trails are still maintained.

Red said...

Quite a walk. It's sad that people dispose of things where ever they think they can get away with it.

Sharon said...

There is a lot to digest in this post. First, I'm so glad you got back on the trail. I love seeing and learning about all these interesting places you visit while on this walk. That looks like a great pub in Hatch End that you visited on your last walk and that hotel looks so charming. I looked it up and saw lots of nice photos from the place. I also did some searching on the unusual pub name "The Case is Altered". It says the phrase has become almost proverbial but there appears to be no solid reason why. Also, that story about the young couple found dead at the overlook was another strange one. I see what you mean about the "asleep" and then "dead" in one sentence. And, there doesn't seem to be any other explanation of what happened. I loved this post!
I see the next section of the walk will take you to Cockfosters, a name I'm familiar with because I see it as an end destination on one of the tube lines. I can't wait to see what you find along that route.

Catalyst said...

I love the look of the buildings along your walk. I noticed a "To Let" sign above the pub but the sign appears to be permanent. I wonder if noise from the pub drives off potential residents in what must be apartments (flats?) above it.

37paddington said...

I love your spirit of exploration, and that you take us along on these adventures.

Sabine said...

Thank you, I was looking forward to your next instalment and have really enjoyed this.

robin andrea said...

What a great walk that was. Ten miles is quite a journey. Wonderful photos.

e said...

Thanks for sharing this. I've missed your loop adventure.

A Cuban In London said...

Sounds like an adventure. That is certainly a strange name for a pub. :-)

Hope you have a great week.

jenny_o said...

No, it surely doesn't seem like two months since your last LOOP walk! They say time flies when you're having fun, but I've found it flies just as fast when there's pain or other bad things involved.

You saw a lot of interesting stuff. I'd like to tell you I know what that piece of farm equipment is for, because I'm interested too, but I can't :)

Blondi Blathers said...

My farmbeau will know, but he's snoozin'.