Another weekend, another walk. While having a few beers on Sunday, we had a look at the weather forecast for the day after. It looked really good, we decided that we were going to attempt 3 sections in one day. At a whopping 16½ miles. That meant getting up early too, and not spending ages getting breakfast. By the time we finished breakfast, we were already an hour behind schedule…
We traveled to Chigwell by means of Bakerloo to Oxford Circus and then the Central line out to Chigwell. On the way back from last time the trip via Woodford was recommended, instead of going the long way around via Hainault. So when we were waiting for the train at Oxford Circus we decided not to wait 7 minutes for the direct train via Hainault to Chigwell, but instead transfer again at Woodford. That ended up being a mistake, and we had to wait 20 minutes at Woodford to get to Chigwell. When we got to Chigwell, and the start of the walk by 11:15, we were an hour and a half behind schedule. Not a great start.
After a short stretch along the High Road we turned into a first meadow just after passing by St. Mary's Church and an old Tudor Looking building—formerly Ye Olde King's Head. After a few minutes we crossed another road and ended up in the country, with loads of fields. While walking along the edge of one, we saw a familiar "public footpath" sign, which pointed diagonally across a field. The path was however not really visible at all, and the sign at the other end was on the ground. Not more than 15 minutes later, a similar situation popped up when both the walking directions, map and a fallen over guidepost told us to cross a field, which was clearly just planted without any regard for the public right of way. After pondering about we decided to go around the field, although I think we really should have crossed it. The PROW blockage has been reported.
After a while, we passed the Chigwell Water Treatment Works and wandered into another bit of meadow. Right after we crossed a stile we saw a little worm scurrying away into the undergrowth. We think it was a slow worm.
We passed by another church and after crossing the busy Romford Road we had to push through a gate so small that I had to take off my backpack. Going through another gate got us into Hainault Forest where after a while we got to a lake full of "ducks" (where "ducks" means ducks, geese, swans and moor hens).
Walking around Fox Burrow Farm we could quite well see that autumn was near. Some of the trees started showing their amazing autumn colours. Hopefully, on the last two walks these colours will be more pronounced. At the top of the field we had a great view over London, with the Shard, Canary Wharf and the City's skyscrapers barely visible through the haze.
A while later we crossed a fairway of the Hainault Golf Club where I nearly got a golf ball on my head as it went the wrong way straight up into the trees.
We escaped the golf club through a stretch of wood, the Mile Plantation and ended up at a corn field. This time, there was a neat path through the field and Morag and I had great fun pushing through it. However, we did not pay enough attention and ended walking along the wrong side of a thorny hedge and ditch. Something we only found out when we got to the end of it. There wasn't really a way for us to cross the hedge and ditch, and as we didn't really want to walk all the way back we simply jumped a barbwire fence.
Soon after we came upon a field with horses in it. One was very interested in us and followed us all along the fence! Soon after, we climbed a little hill and sat on a bench admiring the view, while I removed a stone from my booth.
In the last stretch of section 20 we crossed into Havering Country Park, where we walked over Wellingtonia Avenue with its majestic Sequoia trees into Havering-atte-Bower. Here we stopped at The Royal Oak where the friendly landlady poured us a refreshing beer.
With the beer gone, we continued the walk, now section 21. On our right we spotted The Round House. However we found the signage slightly lacking and after a few minutes trying to figure out where we had to go, we realized we had to go through a gate which had horses just behind it trying to "escape". In our speed to open and close the gate, Morag let out quite a scream after she inadvertently touched the electrified fence.
I didn't escape damage either. With the forecast being so nice I went with shorts. In the end, that wasn't the cleverest idea as we had to go through quite a lot of brambles and stingy nettles. With as result my legs got all scratched and itchy. When we neared the top of another (small) hill we startled a covey of grouse and a nide(?) of pheasants. There were quite a lot and some kept hidden in the undergrowth even when we were nearly on top of them. The view from the summit was great, but there were more horses following us. Nobody got electrocuted this time though.
We hit more brambles and stingy nettles, and walked around a corn field that we apparently should have gone through. We passed by some woods, but then also missed a turn through a well hidden gap in the hedge and had to double back a little again. But we were not half way our second stage, and at a little to four it was already darker than we would have liked. So we decided to abort section 21 near a half way point. We still had a few more steps to make though, and we encountered a gate onto footpath 16. However, there was not a path behind the gate, but a vast jungle. We didn't spot a tiger.
By this time, we neared the pub The Bear on Noak Hill Road, where we took the bus into Harold Wood to take the train back into London. This leaves us with half of section 21, and all of section 22 to do on our next walk.
The weather was cloudier than expected and it wasn't very warm, at about 16°C. We took 3¾ hours for the 16km that the walk took.