London Loop Walk 3:
Noak Hill to Upminster Bridge

5 February 2006

Today Stephen and George did the third of our London Loop walks, setting off from Noak Hill Road on the north edge of the Harold Hill suburb of Romford, with a rather more suburban walk than last time, but generally following green spaces along the Ingrebourne valley to Upminster Bridge station.

Close to the start of the walk, suburbia of Harold Hill, once across this road we are about to duck into the undergrowth on the right of the picture...

...where we find Carter's Brook emerging from this pipe.

From the same point, looking south, we see the stream and its surrounding trees, obvious and yet probably almost forgotten by the residents of Harold Hill.

George and Carter's Brook, with the houses peeking into view over the bank.

After crossing Whitchurch Road and the stream, we continued along the other side of Carter's Brook to Dagnam Park Drive, on the other side of which is Central Park, where George takes a quick breather.

Out of Central Park, we crossed Petersfield Avenue and continued to trace the watercourse, now called Paynes Brook, as it gradually grows in size.

After crossing Neot's Road and walking through another park, we came to the A12 dual carriageway. The LOOP leaflets suggest that a diversion to the pedestrian crossing may be necessary, but on this Sunday morning it was sufficiently quiet
to cross with care. A small field was followed by a bit of road walking to bring us to Harold Wood station, and the
end of section 21.

From there it is a short walk to Harold Wood Park, where the official leaflet is very confusing, the description matching the waymarkers on the ground, but at complete odds with the leaflet's map. It didn't matter hugely either way, and we stopped here to have our lunch, with the burn-out remains of a building across the park in one direction...

... and the distant view of our next crossing of our favourite watercourse, now joined by Weald Brook and gaining the grander name of the Ingrebourne River.

After a welcome rest and food, we cross the Ingrebourne and are warmly welcomed to Pages Wood. The wood was only planted in 2001, so will come into its own for future generations, but pleasant paths have been laid out among the baby trees and it is already a good place to go for a walk.

The Ingrebourne River, continuing to grow since a small stream emerged from that pipe.

The infant wood has a number of sculptures scattered around it.

As we walk alongside the river, a look north-east to Mount Pleasant Farm across some of the young trees of Pages Wood.

A very detailed signpost. A feature of today's walk was the extremely high quality of the signposts and LOOP waymarkers. The London Borough of Havering could teach the London Borough of Waltham Forest a thing or two about how to do this!

Another sculpture in Pages Wood, this time a duck bench.

After a less than exciting walk over the A127 and along the very busy Hall Lane, with its minor milestone of the most easterly point on the LOOP, we turned west down River Drive and once more reached the Ingrebourne River.

The bridge over the river has an unusual arrangement at the west end, with the perfectly functional steps blocked by a double piece of wood, and then a stile built to get the walker over the wood blocking the steps! I can only guess that the railings were wobbling and the extra wood was needed to give the structure a bit of extra rigidity.

On the new route, changed since 2003 and not marked on the 2005 Ordnance Survey maps but described in the official leaflet, we walked around field edges, seeing these two lovely Shetland ponies. George, who seems generally to have grown out of his fear of horses, gave them a bark, but then lost interest.

A last look back at the fields before a suburban walk to Upminster Bridge Underground station.

Not quite as rural as last time, but very enjoyable nonetheless, and not the dull trudge I had anticipated from Mark Moxon's account. There is an improvement since 2003 when he did the walk, with the "three sides of a square" detour he describes along residential roads now being replaced with a pleasant walk around field margins. Don't get me wrong: this isn't anything to compare with a grand walk in the Lake District, but for a few hours on a Sunday when there isn't time to be somewhere more exciting, it was a pleasant amble. Next time - the London Loop from Upminster Bridge to Coldharbour Point

Section 21 (second half) Noak Hill to Harold Wood station: 3.8km, 50 minutes, 23 metres of ascent
Section 22 Harold Wood station to Upminster Bridge station: 6.9km, 1 hour 45 minutes (including lunch), 62 metres of ascent

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