Monday, April 16, 2018

Elstree to Cockfosters

I tackled another 10-mile leg of the LOOP yesterday, this one supposedly the longest of all 24 segments. It was an interesting walk, partly through scenic countryside and partly along busy roadways, including one bit along the A1, which the British quaintly call a "dual carriageway" and we in the USA would call an Interstate or a freeway.

Fortunately the rural bits were more extensive than the urban ones, and I saw signs of spring everywhere -- apple blossoms, budding chestnuts, vivid tulips in front gardens of houses. Even along the A1 I saw some bright purple-flowered dead nettles and budding horsetails.

I got confused three times on this route, more than on any other. In one place, for example, the directions said, "Turn left at the waymarker and follow the path close to the woodland." Well, there was no waymarker, and I was already in the woodland.

Another time, the directions said, "Follow the grass strip straight ahead with the houses on the left and join a tarmac path just above the brook." If there was a tarmac path anywhere in that vicinity, I didn't see it. And what does "above" the brook mean? Like, a bridge?

Finally, at one point, I was told to "go left through the gap in the hedge and follow the path right up the hill." Does that mean directly up the hill, or turn right and go up the hill? (To make matters worse there was a trail marker at this location and it confused me, too -- I wound up wandering around in the wrong field until I climbed through a blackberry hedge and got to the right one.)

Whenever I get to an ambiguous spot like that I just follow what looks like the most likely path, and I'm usually OK. In these particular areas the LOOP maps (and the maps app on my iPhone!) helped.

I passed Livingstone Cottage in Barnet, once the home of the famous "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

In the village of Monken Hadley I passed the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, "which dates back to the 12th century," according to the LOOP directions. I was more taken with this adjacent building, which looks like it might have been the vicarage.

Then my instructions said, "Follow the path beside the road past two huge cedar trees." (NOTE: Two roads, two paths!) "Just beyond a big mansion, Hadley Hurst, cross and enter the woods." I never saw the mansion -- and how do you miss a mansion? -- but I managed to wind my way through the woods along the correct roadway.

Remember the horse log I saw in South London? Well, here I found a frog log!

The path went over Pymmes Brook, where there was a rather unsightly lake as well as a quaint old bridge. I wound up at the Cockfosters tube station, mud-splattered and exhausted. At least it didn't rain!


  1. I suppose that 'right up the hill' is the English equivalent of the French
    'continuez tout droit sur la colline'?
    Years ago I was guiding a group of Americans who alerted me to the quaintness of 'carriageway' to their ears. They were also surprised when we passed a pub with the sign 'No football coaches'.
    I started reading your blog for the photos [still do] but really enjoy your daily news.

  2. It did not rain and you got some excellent photos and a wonderful, if frustrating, narrative.

  3. Sounds like an interesting section. Shame it wasn't sunny. Thanks for sharing. By the way, I heard Kathleen Turner on Radio 4 this morning. She referred to her time as a student at The American School. She was a talented volleyball player. I believe her father was a diplomat.

  4. "Cockfosters"?.
    Oh my goodness. The English have some amusing place-names.
    What a walk! I probably would have cried in frustration at some of those directions though. Beautiful pictures!

  5. That was quite a journey. I love that frog log!

  6. How wonderful. Like following a (flawed) treasure map.

  7. You have a great sense of direction. You make interesting discoveries and learn a few hings when you get lost.

  8. this sounds like so much fun! some good pics...the flowers of course and those bright turquoise doors and I love the last one of the bridge.

  9. I think I might have been a bit frantic trying to deal with those directions. I'm glad you figured it all out. Another great set of photos. I love the old rusty car in the misty field. And, that bridge in the last photo is so interesting.

  10. Reading that a building dates back to the 12th Century leaves this American in awe! Some great photos on this excursion.

  11. What an absolutely beautiful vicarage. It is the sort of place of which stories are made. Beautiful photographs.

  12. It's bad enough getting lost while driving but on foot it takes so long to backtrack or circle around. Kudos for not panicking :)

    Love the frog!

  13. Thanks for all the comments, everybody!

    Nicholas, I am laughing at "No Football Coaches"! That would have given me pause, too.

    YP, I did not know about Kathleen Turner, but I went and looked her up in our archived yearbooks -- and sure enough, she's there! Her yearbook photo looks nothing like the star she eventually became.

    Ms Moon, it's almost like the English intentionally come up with names to provoke laughter.