Looping the Loop – London LOOP 1.

Hello again, dear readers and welcome to another series of posts about a little (actually fairly large) project I undertook some years ago (I started it in May 2013) in walking a 150+ mile designated Long Distance Footpath (LDP) and at no point of which was I more than 15 miles from my own front door. Clever stuff, eh?

I am writing all this in April 2020 when I am, like all other Britons and about half the developed world, effectively under house arrest as a result of the apocalyptic CoVid-19 virus which is decimating the planet in a pandemic of Bibilcal proportions. It is like something out of a sci-fi novel but the sad truth is that it is actually happening.

I have some notes available as I shall explain in a moment, all my images and more than usual time on my hands as I cannot go anywhere.  This is a project I have wanted to add to my site here for some time and now seems like the perfect opportunity. If you are reading this as the epidemic is still raging and want a little light relief or if you are reading this years from now and we haven’t all been wiped out, thank you and I’d like to invite you to come for a walk with me. No need to get your boots, you can do it all from the comfort of your chair. Let’s go.

If you have clicked the little “read more” button, thanks again, you must be a glutton for punishment. As usual I’ll start with a little explanation and try to make it as brief as possible as I know I ramble in all senses of the word.

This series is about walking the wonderful London Loop LDP and I originally wrote it all up on the tragically destroyed Virtual Tourist website which gave me so much over a period of 12 years, not least a worldwide network of dear friends some of whom I know read my efforts here and know what I am talking about. For my other readers who don’t know about VT, it really was a magnificent site and I am genuinely sorry you missed it.
Most of the text in this series will be cut and paste of the content I managed to save from VT (no thanks to the thugs who destroyed it). Obviously I’ll edit it so it doesn’t read any more strangely than my usual writing but there will be references to the origin of the material especially in this first entry.

I’ll also check the current status of places I mention and will tell you if they have closed, changed hands or whatever but this is predominantly a historical document and is, as I explained in my introductory page on the site, as much for myself as for you good readers, glad as I am to have you here.

Also, my usual apology about the quality of many of the images. As seems to be my usual problem I seem to have walked most of the Loop with a compact camera with a less than perfect lens. I should have replaced it but somehow didn’t seem to get round to it. Let’s get started with my original introduction from VT which was written what seems like a very long time ago.

“I am not quite sure where to start this as it is undoubtedly the largest project I have ever undertaken on Virtual Tourist and one of the largest (in terms of physical exertion relative to age) travel plans I have started. Bear in mind that I am a man in his mid fifties with a pretty dodgy back and I have not done any serious exercise for years due to that injury. I smoke and drink too much, eat strange food at strange hours of the day and generally do all the things that health professionals tell you not to do. A hard-core adventurer or modern day Captain Scott I am most certainly not.

Strange then that I am undertaking a fairly lengthy hike and stranger still that it all takes place no more than about 15 miles from my home and my own bed. Please do not leave just yet, allow me to explain. After I do and if I have bored you I apologise and please feel free to leave then but this is genuinely one of the most interesting “trips” I have yet undertaken. I say this despite having been lucky enough to have travelled to many countries all over the world.

It is rightly said, and often here on Virtual Tourist, that “a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. This is undoubtedly true. In my case, more often than not a trip starts with a short Tube journey to the amazing Stanford’s bookshop in Covent Garden in central London. If you do not know this place and have the slightest interest in travelling, which is probably implied by your visiting this website, you really should get acquainted with it.

Stanfords is certainly one of the oldest travel specific bookshops in the world and I have yet to see a better. It is truly a treasure trove of every travel book known to man and the map section really is a place of wonder. I just love to go in and wander round even if I do not have a specific purchase in mind. I invariably come out with far more than I was looking for. Anyone for a Laotian phrasebook (I have one that is hardly used)?

Bless you, dear reader, what you have stumbled upon is effectively a 152 mile (245km.) walk around the periphery of London. I have now completed the entire LOOP and had a wonderful time doing so. Be honest folks. I am, as I said, a pretty crocked old man and I was so happy to finish this. It was a very satisfying achievement and I saw so much and learned a lot about a city I have called home for 28 years now. (2020 note, I am 60 now and have lived here for 32 years!).

So what prompted all this? Well, a very sad event actually. In the depths of one of the most appalling winters in UK for years, I sadly had to attend a funeral at Enfield Crematorium and another there about three months later. It was a bad winter one way and another but I am sure you don’t want to know this. Whilst walking up from Turkey Street train station (lovely name, which I shall explain in due course) I saw a sign similar to the one at the top of this page and recognised it as a public footpath even if I had never heard of the London LOOP.

I sort of put it to the back of my mind until some time later when Virtual Tourist took a hand. A new member was asking about nice places to go for a quiet walk in London. Well, I’m your man. VT are good enough (or crazy enough) to have made me Travel Editor and Tip Group Editor for the city I live in, so I felt it incumbent on me to give some sort of answer.

After a moments thought the proverbial penny dropped. I had a vague idea about semi-rural paths around London but it was nothing more than the haziest notion. Having lived here since early 1988, this is nothing short of shameful. I always like to help on the London Forum here on VT and wracked my brains for a short while until it all fell into place.

OK, it hardly ranks alongside Archimedes as a Eureka moment and will not change the world significantly but I was very pleased with myself. What was that London LOOP I had seen? A quick internet search led me to this excellent website (see above for link). I had it. Not only did I have a reasonable answer to the new members question but suffering a bit of midwinter (a bad one at that) blues, I had a new goal. I really did need something to keep me from going stir crazy in my flat and this was the ideal thing. A good long walk with every portion relatively accessible from home, plenty to see and do on the way, some exercise and lots to write about on VT. It was tailor made for me.

I spoke of going to Stanfords bookshop, where I bought the excellent although only semi-official guidebook. It is called, unsurprisingly, “The London Loop” and is written by David Sharp and Colin Saunders and published by Aurum Press. I am using it and finding it useful but not essential, although on balance and if you are doing long sections of the LOOP it is probably a good investment at £11:99 (price correct as of April 2020).

Just to explain, the term LOOP, as well as describing what the path does, is actually an acronym for London Outer Orbital Path.  It is brilliant in many respects but perhaps best of all is that, apart from your travel costs, it is all absolutely free.

LL current working 3 468I do recommend the guide if you are doing more than one or two sections but it is not absolutely vital as the way-marking is generally good. The boots in the hideously posed image were my old, old boots (purchased in early 1993 for a Nepal trip) which are worn all the time and sadly died in Luxembourg some years later. That sad event is recorded here on another magnus opus of mine on this site. For most portions of the walk you don’t actually need boots, there is no technical stuff and ankle support is not an issue. You could do it in a pair of training (running) shoes but I would suggest you use an old pair. I did the walk at various times of the year and even in summer a few small sections were a bit damp and muddy so don’t do it in your nice new Nikes.

I used to take a little daysack with me with a minimum of kit as you will never be that far from transport, shops, pubs, cafes, restaurants etc. I know you will find it hard to believe at times but you never leave Greater London.  That really is all the kit you need.

To quote from Julie Andrews in the film The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” This seems like sound advice so naturally I totally ignored it!

The LOOP officially starts at Erith in Kent and finishes at Purfleet in Essex. This is logical as it makes the Thames estuary the start / finish point of a circular route. So where did I start? Uxbridge, which is just about as far away from the start as it is possible to get on the route. Whatever was I thinking of?

The answer is actually very prosaic. I had briefly browsed my newly purchased guidebook in the bookshop and noticed that one of the section starts was Uxbridge. I was a couple of minutes walk from Covent Garden Tube Station, I knew Uxbridge was on the Piccadilly line which runs from there, it was a circular route and so I was going to have to go there sooner or later. I had plenty of credit on my Oyster Card (a pre-paid card you use for travelling on public transport in London) so that was that then. Simple when you think about it.

image003Before I had even got to the LOOP, which is a short walk from the Tube, I saw my first point of interest, the Tube Station itself. I hope the images do it justice. This station, which was opened in 1938, is to the design of Charles Holden and L H Bucknell and is aesthetically very pleasing. As you walk towards the street, have a look up where you will see this wonderful stained glass window by the noted Hungarian artist Erwin Bossanyi who also has work in the Tate Gallery, the Victoria and albert Museum, York Minster and Canterbury Cathedral. It really is rather special.

image006The outside is fairly impressive as well and well worth a look. It really is very typically 1930’s architecture which I do rather like. If you look at the top, there are two railway bogey wheels and two leaf springs, designed to look like winged wheels. They are the work of a man called Joseph Armitage.

image005Just one other small thing, should you want to do any of the walk yourself. At the convenient transport points at the beginning of most sections you will find metal signs like this describing the next section with distances and walking conditions etc. There is also a braille section on it for visually impaired travellers.
Well, no time to dawdle admiring 1930’s tranport infrastructure, delightful as it is. We have some walking to do.

 

A brief wander through Uxbridge centre and across a couple of fairly busy roads brought me to a path leading down to the Grand Union Canal. Well, this was a great start. If you have read some of my other pages, you will know of my absolute love for canals and canal boats. Whether walking the Regent’s Canal near my home (see here for a full account of walking it), crewing for friends on trips on their boat or even an occasional visit to the excellent Canal Museum in King’s Cross, there is something about “The Cut” as canals are known, that always thrills me.

image009This was where I took my first steps on the LOOP and despite the pretty dismal weather (again apologies for some of the images), I had a great big smile on my face as I set out. Only 152 miles to go, just a walk in the park!

 

 

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Not far along the towpath I spotted this vessel which is most unusual. I have spent a lot of time around canals and I cannot ever remember seeing a paddle driven narrowboat before. The vast majority are screw (propeller) drive and occasionally you might see a smaller craft with an outboard, but his really is a rarity.

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I always try to report fairly here and I am not going to pretend that the whole London LOOP is idyllic countryside although a surprising amount of it does match that description. You must always remember that you are in one of the major conurbations on Earth so you will regrettably come across things like this. Walking under a noisy road bridge (the A40, I believe) I spotted this rusting barge loaded to the gunwales with rubbish. One of the great things about this walk is that you just need to walk on a little bit and it will get better.

image012By way of proof, here you are. Checking my camera, I took the last image and this one 13 minutes apart. This is the point where you can take a suggested diversion into the charming Colne Valley Park. Well, I had no schedule, all day ahead of me and I wanted to see as much as I could, so off along the diversion I went.
The Colne Valley Park is technically in Denham and Denham is a place dear to my heart, of which more later. The park rather confusingly seems to be named the Denham Country Park as well as the Colne Valley Park. I saw signs bearing both names almost adjacent.

Regardless of what name you prefer, it was a delightful spot although it was a fairly dismal May day during one of the worst Spring seasons on record. It does seem to be very popular as I saw plenty of people using the Park despite the weather and it being a midweek day.

I saw signs for a number of walks and there are also cycle tracks. If you want to go cycling you can get maps and details from the excellent Visitor Centre where I stopped for a coffee which was served by the very friendly staff who, I believe, are all volunteers. I resisted the temptation of the various home-baked cakes and other goodies although they looked rather good.

The centre also had lots of information about the park, forthcoming events both here and in the surrounding area and, being on one level, I would suggest that it is accessible for those with mobility problems if that’s an issue as I do like to cover it in my posts here.
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Heading on, I passed what I would have taken to be natural lakes had I not read that they were in fact old gravel pits which had been allowed to fill, return to Nature and now serve as a wildlife sanctuary. Very peaceful and very pleasant as I hope the image indicates.

Whilst walking in this quiet place I came upon the first of so many unexpected things I was to encounter on this project, a small shrine by the side of the path dedicated to Paddy Cash. I had no idea who Paddy Cash was and wondered if this was a favourite spot of his, had he died here, something else? I didn’t have one of these terribly clever ‘phones where I could check the internet anywhere, so I paused for a while and took a few photos. I do have such a device now but I can’t work it so I am not much further forward really.


Obviously, Paddy was much loved as there were plenty of tributes and the memorial was well tended. It was only whilst researching the original travelogue that I discovered that Paddy had been a 17 year old lad who had died there after crashing his scrambler motorcycle into a tree in 2011. If you are interested you can read about him here. 17 really is far too young, very sad.

image032A little further on and walking round Denham Quarry I happened upon this in it’s own way quite sad although obviously nothing in comparison to the loss of a young life. I have no idea what form of vessel this originally was but judging by the height of the trees growing up through the rotting wooden hull it must have been there for a very long time. I wonder what her history was.
On again and I turned a corner to find a place I thought I recognised. As I continued along the security fence, I became more and more convinced. It was indeed the Denham Marina where my friends, mentioned earlier in the travelogue, had their boat moored. Their mooring was right at the back of the site and I walked within a few feet of it with a wistful look and a lot of very happy memories.

Well, this was good. I knew where I was now and I knew exactly where I was going, no matter what way the path was signposted. I should explain another little thing here. I had a few side-projects whilst walking this route and I shall explain each one as it presents itself. The first is that I intended to visit every available pub that I passed in the days when I could still do such things. This will come as no surprise to anyone knows me or has read my other pre-2019 pages. What I had effectively embarked on was a 150 mile pub crawl.

I should add a further note here, especially for younger readers, if indeed anyone young reads my ramblings. My “followers on this site are all mature sensible people!  I am not suggesting that anyone who walks some or all of this route needs to stop at every pub. Heavy drinking is not smart. I have witnessed alcoholism at close quarters and it really is not funny, it is an evil and often fatal disease. Have a drink by all means but just watch it. I know this sounds odd coming from me but I do not want to be accused of promoting irresponsible drinking and remember that for large portions of this walk you will be close to water and that is not a good mix. Come to think of it, some of the beer in some of the pubs was pretty close to water but that is another story. OK, here endeth the lesson.

image037I was heading for the Horse and Barge pub, close to the Marina and a place I had spent many a happy hour. I know it was midweek and not high season but the place was completely empty. Not to worry, I only wanted a quick pint. Whilst researching this piece I see that the Horse and Groom has now been re-branded as the Bear on the Barge and is, like so many other semi-country pubs a fully fledged gastro establishment i.e. a restaurant which happens to serve drink.

Duly refreshed, it was time to move on along a very familiar stretch of canal. I had crewed on the Denham to “Ricky” (Rickmansworth) stretch a few times and know it well, although rather more from waterside than landside. One thing I hadn’t noticed from the boat was this rather spectacular overflow which was fairly full as was the canal. I went on a bit of a shutter frenzy trying to get artistic. Not sure if it worked or not.

By now I was on “home ground” and knew exactly where I was. I reckoned I could get to Moor Park Tube Station to finish the section as defined in my guidebook but that meant passing the delightful Coy Carp pub or, in my case, not passing it.

I had been there a few times before and knew that even pretty roughly dressed “boaties” were welcome when I had been crewing on my friends narrowboat but this is not really the Coy Carp’s thing. I cannot remember ever having eaten there but just about everyone there on a midweek lunchtime appeared to be there for the food. I did have a look at the menu and it seemed very good.

I wasn’t exactly dressed for a business meeting but was made to feel very welcome and sat myself down by the (unlit obviously) fire to enjoy it. Apologies for exterior photo which is slightly truncated but if I had walked any further back I would have been up to my chest in filthy canal water! Sorry, dear readers, I love you but not quite that much.

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Heading off again, I came upon the thing you see in the image and yes it does look lovely but I can tell you that for a narrowboat helmsman it is an absolute nightmare. Going towards Rickmansworth this will be on your right and is obviously a canoe slalom course. The water here enters the canal at a frankly frightening volume and I had wondered why it did. Local legend has it that it was originally for paper mills but in the early 18th century it converted to copper production and was indeed the source of the copper for the iconic dome on St. Paul’s Cathedral in central London. I really don’t know.

Luckily, when I helmed through here the first time my mate, who is a very experienced skipper, told me to steer hard into it and I was very glad of that tip. If you are not wise to this, you will literally be driven into the port bank. It genuinely is a matter of steering about 45 degrees into it to keep straight but if you know this you will be OK. I did have a bit of a smile on my lips as I walked past here.

Frankly I am beginning to fear for my sanity in writing navigational tips regarding a British canal on a website that has readers all over the world (honestly, it does). If any of the said readers ever do navigate this stretch and find my tip useful then please. please write and tell me and I can die a happy man!

Walking to the other side of the canal I came upon this place which interested me. I have undoubtedly gone on enough on this site about my love for canal boats, so I was automatically drawn here like a moth to a flame. I just wanted a look at the boats really but a look round and subsequent research informs me that this is actually a very interesting place.

I have seen a number of charitable associations seeking to introduce people to the canals and I fully support that idea. A direct quote from their website provides the following quote, “Hillingdon Narrowboats Association (HNA) operates several community canal boats on the Grand Union Canal for use by local residents and community groups of all ages at a cost they can afford.”

I know how much narrowboats cost to buy and run (I have looked at it very seriously) and I really do have a lot of time for organisations such as this who wish to open up “The Cut” to all and I know that they have craft that are accessible for the mobility impaired, if that is of use to any readers.

Former canal buildings, Rickmansworth.Right beside the canal and the Hillingdon Narrowboats Association, I came upon this row of buildings. They are right by “The Cut” and I can only assume they are former commercial buildings associated with the canal. Nowadays, they are a series of light industrial units (IT places and the like). I have tried to research this to inform the reader but regrettably I have drawn a blank. It is an impressive terrace and worth a quick look if you are doing the LOOP.
image063Wandering only a few hundred yards from what is effectively the posh suburban area of Harefield I looked to my right and was greeted by this quite wonderful sight, a bluebell wood. OK, those of you that live in more rural areas might think that this is no big deal but I have to stress again that everything on this walk is within the orbital road of one of the world’s major conurbations. This was to be a continuing theme and I was to be frequently amazed about how much rural scenery there was in a city I have lived in for 32 years and knew just about nothing about even in 2013.

I realise that this is yet another long post but it was still my first day of walking and I was really getting into it to the point of singing as I walked along. I have a habit of doing this and it does lead to some rather strange looks from people that I have not seen coming the other way or else coming up behind me. I do hereby apologise to any rambler, jogger or dog-walker that I have startled along the way. I am not dangerous, honestly, I just feel happy walking and I like to sing.

However, the next thing I saw did not please me at all and made me quite sad. I have mentioned earlier that I had a few side projects like visiting every available pub I could on the way. In tandem with this and a subject very dear to my heart is what I call dead pubs which regular readers will be more than familiar with by now.

image066It is a sad but unavoidable fact that pubs are closing at the rate of well over 30 a week in England and Wales alone (I do not have figures for Scotland or Northern Ireland). The appalling figure is a result of many factors, primarily the American inspired smoking ban, the Beer escalator (an appalling tax), general economic recession and who knows what else? People cannot afford to go to the pub any more and don’t want to when they can buy much cheaper drink from the supermarket and sit at home and smoke if they wish, and the situation is now becoming critical. I do not even want to consider the impact of the current CoVid emergency on an already fragile industry. At time of writing all pubs and restaurants are closed in the UK and look like being so for some time.

This then was the first, but not to be the last, dead pub I saw. Formerly the Plough in Harefield this place is now a nursery school. I am glad that at least it is providing some sort of service to the local community but it did dampen my mood somewhat.

image068I tramped on, a little disheartened by what I had seen and was shortly rewarded by this sight. I do not want to labour the point but this is within the M25 orbital motorway and technically in Greater London. I didn’t take a photo of them (can’t imagine why) but away to my right there were a number of cows grazing happily. It really was a scene of utterly placid rural life. It as probably the first time on this walk that I had truly appreciated how much agricultural land there is so close to London.

If you live in central London, as I do, it is easy to fall into a routine of staying within that area and only considering countryside walking as a “holiday” thing or a thing you did on a “daytrip” normally involving a drive or a bus or train journey. Beginning this walk (remember this was my first day) really opened my eyes and I thought I knew London and it’s environs fairly well. It just shows you.

Leaving behind the open fields shown above, I was looking forward to another pub stop. Well, I had been walking for a while! My guidebook had suggested Rose and Crown as somewhere to pause for a while and I had planned a pit-stop there. My path approached from the back over a field running behind some houses at the side of a very busy road. Don’t use the road which is the “official” path, it is dangerous. For legal reasons (lawyers getting rich as always, no doubt) there is no legally designated footpath up the back of the field but there is local permission from the landowner, so use it quite freely. It looks well-tramped and I am sure it is not merely London LOOP walkers that are using it.

The rear of the premises does not really do justice to the wonderful frontage nor indeed the interior. It really is a superb “country pub” and, again, in Greater London. Just look at it. Many readers from overseas, and indeed closer to home, would say this might be in the Cotswolds, North York Moors or wherever. Remember, I started this day’s walk at a London Underground Tube station and will finish it at another. This is London and it never ceases to amaze me.
The pub itself, the wonderful Rose and Crown was quiet with only one other punter in there but I had a great time chatting to him and the extremely friendly young lady behind the bar. Was I really in London? In this place and in the lovely gardens, you would be hard pushed to know. I’ll tell you how good this pub is. Cider is my preferred tipple and they had not one but three on draught, Addlestone’s, Aspall’s and Gaymer’s. I remember drinking Gaymers from bottles as a kid but I don’t think I have ever seen it on draught anywhere else. They are obviously well used to walkers on the Loop as well as the sign in the image shows. Happy days
I probably had not even done ten miles yet so there was still much more to go that day and that saddens me a little as, in the few short years since I completed the LOOP, ill-health means that I sometimes struggle to do half that distance now. This project was a great idea (if I do say so myself) and I was having a ball.

I was sorely tempted to just spend the day in the Rose and Crown as I was enjoying it so much and had I succumbed to the temptation, there were buses passing the pub which go to Uxbridge, Rickmansworth or Denham stations every day except Sunday, so that is handy to know.

image080Within about five minutes I was back in completely rural tranquility as evidenced by this and the next image. It softened the blow of leaving the pub somewhat and I stepped out “with an inch in my stride” as we used to say where I was brought up.
This is the Bishops Wood country park and it is lovely. Look at this picture closely and I promise I did not take it at a very particular angle or anything. This is Greater London and you cannot see a single building of any description, either residential or agricultural.
There are, however, several man-made intrusions that you cannot escape for most of the way. The constant noise of aeroplanes is one thing and especially in this part of West London where you are under the holding pattern for nearby Heathrow airport, the busiest airport in the world.

The other “distraction”, if I can call it that, are huge electricity pylons which seem to be very prevalent all along the walk. I have no problem with this, I know they are very necessary and the alternative of burying high voltage cables underground is so expensive as to make it unviable. Heaven knows my electricity bill in London is high enough and undoubtedly providing a lovely living for the power company shareholders!

image086When I came upon one huge pylon right beside the path I thought that if I couldn’t ignore it, I might as well try to make a photo opportunity out of it and here is my humble attempt. OK, it is never going to be exhibited anywhere but I quite liked it if only to show that I was still thinking about trying to be a bit arty to produce some sort of pleasing image to accompany my writing.

Not far beyond the power-bearing monster pictured above, I wandered out of a wooded area and found myself on a fairly main road. The contrasts on this walk come very quickly as you have probably seen by now. Technically, the path goes right along the same side of the road but I took my life in my hands amongst the traffic and the reason you can see in the image, Ye Olde Greene Manne pub.

I had worked / walked up a good thirst and wandered in for a pint and I really didn’t feel comfortable there, it was far too posh for me. Fortunately, I had been reading my guidebook and knew that was the “more modest” Prince of Wales pub a short walk down the road. OK, that sounds more like my kind of place so off we go.

image090A short walk then to the Prince of Wales and I wandered in to order a pint. The place was fairly full even mid-afternoon which surprised me a little although I noticed there were no women present but that is not surprising in a “working man’s pub” at that time of day.
Shortly thereafter some fairly loud dance music started. I supposed it was the jukebox on random play but that was not the case. From somewhere out the back a young and scantily dressed woman appeared and started to dance her way round the bar. Now, I am not an “innocent abroad” and it was immediately apparent to me that this was a “strippers pub”. It is not really my thing but I was not going to waste a pint under any circumstances (those were the days), so I supped it up quickly and moved on.

image091A scant (as scantily as was the young lady in the Prince of Wales clad) distance along a fairly busy main road I paused to look at this fairly old and decrepit looking post, almost overgrown at the side of the road. Actually, like so many things on this walk, it is a lot more interesting than it at first appears.

What you see is a Coal Duty marker. This is an interesting historical artefact as it shows the area surrounding the “City of London” (this is about 15 miles away) where you had to pay duty on coal to bring it into the centre. I had a bit of a look at these markers whilst researching the original piece and it is a fascinating subject. I know I go on about this a bit but I really do learn so much whilst researching my writing.

Not far past the coal post you dive back into almost instantaneous country again, it really is that quick. The last image is of the post at the side of a very busy road and the next one could be any rural area in the UK. They are timed respectively on my camera at 1823 and 1824 hours. Literally a minute away. OK, technically it could be up to one minute and 59 seconds but you get the idea.


Whilst walking down the path in the above image I came upon rather a lot of this and I still haven’t really decided whether it saddens me or makes me glad. At some point they have decided to pave this path, possibly to indicate it’s importance as the county boundary between Hertfordshire and Middlesex. I should explain that Middlesex is one of those quirks of UK administration. You can have a postal address that says you are in Middlesex but it does not exist as a County. Don’t ask me how this works, it is a mystery even to people who live there!

Anyway, I am saddened that economic circumstances presumably forced abandonment of this project and even sadder that taxpayers money was wasted on these materials. I am however glad that the lovely path you see above has been preserved in a fairly pristine state.

The weather hadn’t been great all day and the light was failing just a little so I decided to shift on a little in order to get to Moor Park underground station, my destination. From there it would be a simple straightforward run with only one adjacent platform change to get back to my home station.

image103This section of the walk was well way-marked and it was then that I encountered my first golf course, in this case Mount Vardon. There will be many more on the walk, and the guide book even includes a section on how to avoid low flying and wayward golf balls. I suggest you keep your eyes open for such and your ears open for anguished screams of “Fore”. I am not suggesting this walk in any way rates as one of the most dangerous on Earth but your greatest chance of injury is probably some 32 handicapper driving off the 15th!

Here is a look (actually it’s the 17th, par 5 and 534 yards if you are interested) at the hole in question. A pleasant enough section if unremarkable and the end of a very enjoyable first days walking on this route.

A fairly uninspiring final walk brought me to Moor Park Station, which is coincidentally the end of the sections for both the guidebook which I was using and also the very good website so that was handy.

image107The accompanying image shows just how little Transport for London (TfL) cares about it’s customers. This is a constant complaint of mine and well-rehearsed here on my site, they are a disgrace. Apparently the ticket office here is open 16 hours a week. As much as that? Wow, you are so gracious to those of us that pay for the huge bonuses of the top brass of your organisation.

Obviously I wrote this back in 2013 but things are even worse now and I left this in the text to show that I was not complaining for no reason.  TfL have now closed all Underground ticket offices except those associated with with major rail stations which are subject to different regulations.  Further proof of the complete contempt in which TfL hold the travelling public.

I detest TfL but even they could not dampen my mood after what had been a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable first day’s walking on the LOOP. I reckoned I had found a project that I could accomplish and that would give me an interest during another appalling British winter / spring.

Well, that was a bit of a journey in more ways than one and I hope I have not depressed you horribly in these awful times. I had slightly forgotten about how much I used to be able to walk in a day and how much I used to write about it, at least that has not changed in the intervening years.
In the next post I reverse the title of the classic Hitchcock film “North by Northwest” and walk from Northwest to North on my new mission to circumnavigate my adopted home city. There is plenty more to see so stay tuned and spread the word.

Author: Fergy.

Hello there and welcome to my blog which is the last attempt of a retiree and child of the 50's to overcome advanced technophobia and create a memoir of my rambles having had three commercial travel blog sites pulled from under me in just over a year. A learning curve like Everest! I am rapidly approaching a senior citizen bus pass and realistically I have more days independent travelling behind me than before so I intend to "do it while I still can" and am trying to cram in as much as I can now. Apart from travelling, I love playing music (guitar, vocals and a bit of percussion) as the profile pic suggests and sport, although my active participation is now restricted to the very occasional game of pool. I read voraciously, probably a legacy from my dear late Mother who was a librarian and encouraged me towards books from an early age. I'll read just about anything although I do have a particular interest in military history of all periods. I live alone in fairly central London where I have been for over 30 years since leaving Northern Ireland which was the place of my birth, youth and early manhood. Partially by necessity although more by love of the art I adore cooking and I can and do read recipe books and watch food programmes on TV / online all day. Nothing fancy and none of your nouvelle cuisine nonsense, just hopefully tasty, proper food. To my knowledge, I have not poisoned anyone yet! No doubt other little personal facts about me will emerge during the course of my writings here so stay tuned if you are at all interested.

15 thoughts on “Looping the Loop – London LOOP 1.”

  1. Pingback: Fergy's Rambles.
  2. Pingback: Fergy's Rambles.
  3. Writing all this up should keep you occupied for a while. I remember reading some of this walk from your VT days, and it sounded good then

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    1. Hello Malc and thanks as always for reading it.

      This is effectively the VT text edited and amended / updated a bit. I managed to save most of my content with the fix that G and Tillman invented after that other lot refused to. I have more than enough trips to transfer over here and this has given me the perfect opportunity.

      This project is easy as I had it all in travelogues on VT so it is already done but other trips will involve finding endless individual tips and cobbling them together. Still, it looks as if free time is one thing we are all going to have plenty of for a while. I am even managing one complete entry a day now which is lightning speed for me! Hopefully there will be another one today so stay tuned.

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  4. Thank you so much Anna,

    it is a great walk. I have also done the Capital Ring which is concentric to it and about half the distance (78 miles) but it is obviously not as rural as much of the LOOP. A portion of that follows the same route as the Jubilee Greenway which I have just finished writing up but haven’t quite finished due to this awful virus. If you are interested, it starts here.

    https://fergysrambles.org/2020/01/04/regents-canal-walk/

    It is amazing how much decent walking there is available in such a major metropolis.

    I am so glad you enjoyed it and keep a lookout for further episodes soon. Let’s be honest, I have little else to do these days under house arrest!

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  5. I’ve never heard of this loop walk but sounds like a great way to explore out of central/touristy London. An enjoyable read on a lazy Saturday night!

    Liked by 1 person

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