London Loop Walk 18:
Cockfosters to Enfield Lock

15 October 2006

Today Stephen did his eighteenth and final London Loop walk, with George for company.

Having started at Cockfosters Underground station, we made our way past the cemetery to reach Trent Park. Here is a view down an avenue of lime trees leading to the mansion, for which we have the landscaping of Humphry Repton to thank. Once part of the Enfield Chase hunting estate, the area was given by George III to Richard Jebb in 1777 as a reward for saving the life of the King's younger brother, the then Duke of Gloucester.

Having walked through Oak Wood, which, bizarrely, is mostly birch trees, we reach open space and one of the lakes below the mansion. Trent Park is now a country park and forms part of the campus of Middlesex University.

A view of the mansion itself.

Climbing up the hill we pass through woodland and reach Camlet Moat, surrounding a small island. This is a well-preserved example of the once typical moated residence, of which over 5000 have been found in England. The oak drawbridge has been dated to 1367. Surveys in the 17th century attributed the site as the seat of habitation of Geoffrey de Mandevill during the reign of William the Conqueror. Excavations in the 1920s also found Roman shoes and daggers as well as mosaic tiles depicting a knight on horseback. The foundations of a large stone building were also found.

A short diversion before we emerge onto Hadley Road brings us to this impressive column, with the inscription:

To the memory of the birth
of George Grey Earl of Harold
son of Henry and Sophia
Duke & Dutchess of Kent

What makes this something to which to dedicate such a huge memorial (note the person at the base, for scale), is unclear - the column was built decades after the birth being commemorated.

A short walk along Hadley Road brings us to the footpath sign into the valley. The footpath is presumably rather older than 21.

George looks cheerful as we descend into the valley

Cattle in Enfield Chase.

Our first sight of Salmon's Brook, which is rather unimpressive and keeps itself to itself in a ditch surrounded by vegetation.

We then leave the public footpath and continue along a footpath known as the Jubilee Path, opened in 1977, alongside Salmon's Brook.

And then pass through Brooke Wood, planted in 1991 in memory of Councillor Roger Brooke - though 15 years on, the Ordnance Survey have yet to catch up and show any woodland here. While walking the LOOP today, I was listening to the Champions Trophy cricket from India, with England playing India. Intensive clay-pigeon shooting nearby was joined by a massive fireworks display set off just behind the cricket ground in Jaipur, so there were bangs all around me.

We then reach the Ridgeway, and we really are getting close to home now, with increasingly familiar sights, from slightly different perspectives. I have driven along this road several hundred times.

A view of Rectory Farm, our next point of call, and the source of all the shooting.

Some rather sad looking sunflowers at Rectory Farm

No galloping on the LOOP.

We then reach the very attractive Hilly Fields Park, where we find Turkey Brook. This is a tributary of the River Lee and we will be following it, more or less, for the rest of the walk.

I've read in the accounts of other LOOPers that you should always take advantage of benches on the LOOP when you find them. This is certainly true. You wait two hours for one, and then six come along at once! George and I took full advantage and had the second half of lunch here, the first half being in Trent Park where the previous bench was found.

The bandstand in Hilly Fields Park

We leave Hilly Fields, and crossing Clay Hill we pass the Rose and Crown and enter the Forty Hall estate, the last of the many former private country estates now given over to the public which grace the LOOP.

This ditch is the remains of the old course of the New River. The New River was an aqueduct constructed between 1609 and 1613 to carry clean water from the River Lee near Ware in Hertfordshire to Islington in London. It followed the contours of the land and so made many extravagant loops: these were progressively cut off as embankments were built to allow the River to take a straighter course.

From the side of Turkey Brook, looking across the farmland of the Forty Hall estate. The Hall was built in the 1630s, but the estate is much older, being the site of the fashionable Elizabethan Elsynge Hall.

A fishpond, probably created for Elsynge Hall.

We then cross Forty Hill and continue to parallel Turkey Brook. Here we find a strange mound - it is the subterranean course of the new, straight course of the New River, dating from the 1850s.

Just visible through the trees is the aqueduct carrying the New River over Turkey Brook

We then take the footbridge over the A10

Looking rather neglected in its dead-straight course, the Turkey Brook passes Albany Park in Enfield Wash

We cross over the London to Cambridge railway, here passing through Enfield Lock station. The line was opened from Stratford to Broxbourne in 1840 by the Northern and Eastern Railway, with Enfield Lock station opening in 1855.

George at Enfield Lock on the River Lee Navigation.

The Swan and Pike Pool

And so this is it. The end. And the start, being a ring. This is where George and I set off on a gloomy January day. With perfect timing, Lucy picked us up. You can just see the cup and rosette I am clutching - awarded to me by Lucy, but really belonging to Ellie who had won Best of Breed earlier in the day at a dog show in Swanley.

A pleasant afternoon, linking together many familiar sections with some unknown bits. As a result there were no real surprises, and Enfield isn't the world centre for exciting walks anyway, but Trent Park, Hill Fields and Forty Hall are always enjoyable.

And so it is over. I'm very glad to have completed what has been a fascinating ten-month journey around London, showing many varied faces of the green outer edge of this city. Sure, some bits were better than others, but that is life, and there was much that was interesting, impressive, enjoyable and surprising.

London Loop Section 17 Cockfosters to Enfield Lock: 14.7km, 4 hours 20 minutes (including 65 minutes stopped), 198 metres of ascent
London Loop Section 18 (first bit) Enfield Lock to Swan & Pike Pool: 0.9km, 15 minutes, 10 metres of ascent.

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