London Loop Walk 2:
Chigwell to Noak Hill

28 January 2006

Having enjoyed the first of my London Loop walks, from Enfield Lock to Chigwell, this morning I continued from Chigwell, doing section 20 and half of section 21, ending at Noak Hill.

Ye Old Kings Head pub, Chigwell
Ye Old Kings Head in Chigwell is said to be the most famous pub in Essex, and featured in Charles' Dickens Barnaby Rudge, where it is described as having "more gable-ends than a lazy man would care to count on a sunny day". The pub was a favoured haunt of Dick Turpin the highwayman. They used to do a jolly good carvery too - but as I haven't eaten here for some years, I can't comment on whether it still does.

St Mary's church, Chigwell
St Mary's church in Chigwell, site of a quarter-peal outing by the St Andrew's bellringers a few years ago.

Houses in Chigwell on the London Loop
Horses come to greet Stephen and George as we leave Chigwell

Pudding Lane on the London Loop
George on Pudding Lane

Fields on the London Loop
Considering how urban the area feels when driving the Essex/London borders, the walk today was remarkably and almost completely rural.

Fields between Chigwell and Chigwell Row
Fields between Chigwell and Chigwell Row. This small section of the London Loop shares the route of the Three Forests Way.

reservoir at Chigwell Row waterworks
The reservoir at Chigwell Row waterworks

Chapel in Chigwell Row on the London Loop
The yellow-brick building is the chapel which gives this road its name

Hainault Forest Country Park, London Loop
Having run the gauntlet of the A1112 Romford Road dual carriageway and its ice-covered pavements, George and Stephen enter Hainault Forest Country Park, a Site of Special Scientific Interest. One of the LOOP's subtitles is "the M25 for walkers", and this phrase came to me as we walked along this track. Quite a contrast with its namesake.

birch trees in Hainault Forest Country Park
Young birch trees in Hainault Forest Country Park

Modern art in Hainault Forest Country Park
Art in the forest

Lake in Hainault Forest Country Park
A lake in the country park

Canada geese in Hainault Forest Country Park

Trees of the Mile Planation in Hainault Forest Golf Course
Navigating through Hainault Forest Golf Course, we walk along the Mile Plantation, following the yellow-striped trees.

Golfers on Hainault Forest Golf Course
Golfers on this beautiful morning

Hainault Forest Golf Course on the London Loop
Emerging from the trees, the yellow markers and waymarker posts completely disappeared, just when we needed them most.

Field path on the London Loop
However, we found our way out of the golf course and across this field

Park Farm on the London Loop
Looking back to Park Farm

Sign - 'Private No Public Access Dogs Beware'
"Dogs beware" says the sign...

American Cocker Spaniel on London Loop
...but George looks fairly relaxed

View to Park Farm from edge of Havering Country Park
Climbing onto the ridge on the edge of Havering Country Park, we look across Havering Park to Park Farm again

Wellingtonia Avenue, Havering Country Park, sequoia trees
Walking along Wellingtonia Avenue, these sequoia trees tower overhead. Planted in the 19th century, they will perhaps for future generations eventually rival their native relations in California where they can live for over 2000 years, growing up to 110 metres high and 7 metres in diameter.

Havering village green
Passing an equestrian centre, we arrive at the village green at Havering, just about the end of section 20, and time for a short break on a handy bench. A royal palace once stood where the green now is: Edward the Confessor established a holy retreat, followed by William The Conqueror and King John with hunting lodges. A royal palace gradually developed, but was last used by Charles I, and now no trace remains.

church at Havering
The church with its unusual tower: the archway at the bottom goes right through the tower.

houses on Havering village green
Houses on the village green

Round House, home of Joseph Hardwick Pemberton
Roundhouse Farm: the Round House was once the home of Joseph Hardwick Pemberton, a famous rose breeder. The round building seen here is a water tower built in 1934: the real roundhouse is 200 metres to the west. (Thanks to Adam Bootle for this information.)

Pyrgo Park on the London Loop
Heading across Pyrgo Park

gate posts of royal palace at Pyrgo
These gate posts are all that remains of another royal palace, at Pyrgo.

Horses on the London Loop
More horses. A noticeable feature of this walk so far is what a large proportion of "agricultural" land is devoted to horses.

Just after this I met my first fellow LOOP walker. He'd started at the official start point at Erith, and so was nearing completion, though he seemed to have made a good deal more wrong turns than I so far. I've used the free leaflets provided by The Access Company which are good, though unfortunately as I write this they are out of print for many stages. These confidently state that "the route is well marked" which is something of a unjustified generalisation. The quality of the waymarking is variable, with that by Epping Forest District Council being poor (with not a single mark seen between Chigwell and Chigwell Row), while that by the London Borough of Havering is excellent.

An enjoyable morning: next time onwards around Romford to Upminster.

Section 20: 10.1km, 2 hours 45 minutes, 201 metres of ascent
Section 21 (first half) to Noak Hill: 3.7km, 55 minutes, 19 metres of ascent

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson