Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Chigwell to Harold Wood
I did another ten miles of the LOOP yesterday -- the segments from Chigwell to Harold Wood, via the village of Havering-atte-Bower. This is all east of London, on its border with Essex.
It was a good day for walking, generally clear but with enough mist or cloud cover to not be blistering hot. In Chigwell I passed this impressive old pub known as Ye Olde King's Head. Apparently it's a legendary place, known as "the most famous pub in Essex" (according to my LOOP map) and a haunt of bandit Dick Turpin in the 1700s. Charles Dickens even included it in one of his lesser-known novels, "Barnaby Rudge," which I checked out from the library and meant to read last summer, but never did. Maybe now, having seen this pub, I'll try it again.
This is typical of the landscape I walked through -- lots of hills and rolling farmland. You can see how misty it was in the morning.
In Hainault Forest Country Park, I came across a circle of carved totems featuring different animal forms like lizards, owls and other birds. I particularly liked this one, covered with tadpoles. I have no idea what the circle is for -- there were three seats in the middle. Human sacrifice? Do they do that in Hainault?
I got extremely lost trying to cross the Hainault Forest Golf Course. The directions were unclear ("cross the fairway and walk just left of a tiny grove of trees") and golf courses are so well-manicured that any trace of path is obliterated by mowing and signposts are not to be found, at least in areas of play. The maps app on my phone was useless, showing me as a dot in the middle of a featureless green expanse. I bet I wandered around out there for half an hour, grumbling, before I figured out where I was supposed to be.
After I got back on the path I passed horses grazing in a pasture full of buttercups...
...and eventually entered Havering Country Park, where there are giant sequoias planted in the 1800s. They're small compared to the ones in California, but then, they're just babies.
In the quaint village of Havering-atte-Bower I stopped for lunch at a tidy pub, but sadly, it had no food, and there was no other restaurant or shop in the immediate vicinity. So my lunch was a Stella Artois and a bag of Walker's vinegar & onion crisps.
I could have stopped here, after six-plus miles, but the directions for getting back to London from Havering-atte-Bower seemed complicated, with buses and a train that, yesterday, was out of service (replaced by more buses). So I kept walking.
I passed a field of horses with these strange masks over their faces. I guess it's a form of blinders, maybe to keep them from getting nervous? It gave them a sort of sinister look.
This is the "Round House," once the home of Joseph Hardwick Pemberton, a well-known cross-breeder of roses. I think Dave and I saw a segment about him on the BBC's "Gardener's World" TV show last year.
I passed the rusty iron entrance gates of Pyrgo, a former home of the Tudors that no longer exists, and along the edge of a woodland where I saw...
...these bright red beetles buzzing through the air. They're called cardinal beetles, apparently.
The path took me across more farmland and along some small brooks (more like deep, wooded ditches) into the suburban area known as Harold Hill. Those waterways feed into the River Ingrebourne, which you may remember I saw at the beginning of this walk last August.
These little sparrows seemed to be hunting insects on the flowers of the cow parsley along the waterways.
Finally, I got to the Harold Wood train station, only to find that trains were out of service there too. Curses! (And I'm virtually sure I checked that on the TFL trip planner web site the night before, but never mind.) So I wound up on a bus after all, winding through Romford and Chadwell Heath on my way to a tube station. It took me about two hours to get home.
The good news is, I'm almost finished with the LOOP. I have only a short four-mile segment to go, which I hope to polish off this coming weekend!