Thursday, 7 April 2016

A Suburban Wander from Moor Park to Stanmore, following the London Loop

As hinted at in my previous post, a Suburban Wander from Harefield to Moor Park following the London Loop, I was unsure where my next wander would take me. Having just finished Gareth Rees' wonderful Marshland I really wanted to explore the Walthamstow, Hackney and Leyton marshes, but that will have to wait until another day. Instead we embarked on our second part of the London Loop recreational path, from Moor Park to Stanmore, some of which is featured in Nick Papadimitriou's Scarp, another excellent, recent read.

We drove to the Northwood/Moor Park border, looking for somewhere to park that was not too much of a trek from the start of the walk, and eventually ended up reasonably close to Moor Park station. The weather was stunning, but as you'll see from the later pictures, this was not to be sustained for the whole day's walk.

Bridge carrying the Metropolitan railway line at Moor Park
Bridge carrying the Metropolitan railway line at Moor Park

The first section of the walk took us across open fields, strewn with electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, as we headed to the Sandy Lodge Golf course.

Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park
Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park

Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park
Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park

Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park
Electricity pylons disappearing off into the distance, Moor Park

 Keeping an eye out for stray golf balls whizzing through the air, we navigated the greens and golfers and came out on to Sandy Lodge Lane.

Sandy Lodge Lane, Moor Park
Sandy Lodge Lane, Moor Park

After Sandy Lodge Lane, the route took us through parkland and woodland. I seem not to have taken any pictures through Oxhey Woods for some reason, most likely because the going was difficult and we had to carefully place each foot to avoid slipping over in the ever present mud. However, the mud in the woods was nothing in comparison to the mud which greeted us as we came out of the woods and into open fields somewhere near Hatch End. The fields had been churned up by horses and several times we found ourselves over ankle deep in wet mud. There was certainly no scope for taking pictures during this part of the wander. However, once we had successfully negotiated the mud, but alas with wet feet, we emerged on to a more solid path, where this beautiful farmhouse stood, hiding the quagmire in the distance.

Farmhouse, near Hatch End, on the London Loop Recreational Walk
Farmhouse, near Hatch End, on the London Loop Recreational Walk

From here the path followed a few more wet, field edges and then skirted between fields and housing estates on narrow tracks. If I'm honest, we were getting quite fed up with walking on wet and muddy tracks so we quite pleased when we eventually found some more solid ground.

Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park
Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park

Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park
Bridge crossing the main line from Euston, near Carpenders Park

Unlike our previous section of the loop, we did not come across much in the way of villages, towns or country pubs, so had to make do with having a late lunch in a garden centre, which I desperately try and avoid at all costs as it makes me feel I'm turning into my parents, but needs must, and we were getting quite hungry. Sustained with home-made soup, followed by tea and quite a wonderful cream egg brownie, we set off again towards our destination. My feet had almost dried out too, so the walk was a bit more comfortable, although my boots, socks and trousers were covered in mud.

Again we trekked through woods and commons, passing through Grim's Dyke, Harrow Weald Common, and Bentley Priory. The weather has closed in a bit by this stage, so once again there was a lack of photo opportunities. The few I did take however were around Grim's Dyke, a 2,000 year old ditch, which surrounding area also boasts the house and gardens formerly owned by Sir William Gilbert, of Gilbert and Sullivan fame, who drowned in one of his lakes trying to assist a female house guest who had got into trouble.

Lake in the gardens of William Gilbert's former house
Lake in the gardens of William Gilbert's former house

Gilbert's house is now a hotel.

William Gilbert's former house
William Gilbert's former house

William Gilbert's former house
William Gilbert's former house

Derelict building, near Bentley Priory
Derelict building, near Bentley Priory

Once again we seemed to have either over exerted ourselves, or under estimated our strength and stamina, and were feeling quite weary by this stage. The walk through Stanmore Common and down to Stanmore tube station was quite a slog, and we were glad to find some shops for our second cake of the day, which we bought from Lidl and ate on the tube as our clothes were so muddy we felt in no fit state to go into a cafe.

Whilst the section of the loop we had followed was enjoyable, we both agreed that it was less enjoyable that the first section we'd walked from Harefield to Moor Park. I suspect this was mainly to do with the mud, and later in the day the weather. However, we are not put off, and will return at some stage to start the next section. But before that, I have a more recent urban wander to post.

    

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