Chigwell to Harold Wood

Some photos taken on stage 14 of the London Loop.
St Marys Church, Chigwell
Fields nr Chigwell
Fields Nr Chigwell
Church nr Hainault

I walked this section on the 21st August 2005. Although Chigwell is quite near home it took an age to get there as buses had replaced the tube trains between Hainault and Chigwell - although no announcement to this effect was made until the train was pulling into Hainault station. I had already waited ages for a Chigwell tube at Leyton when I could have got a Woodford tube far earlier and then the replacement bus service from that end of the line. Still once I eventually made it to Chigwell it proved a very enjoyable walk.
As I got off the bus at Chigwell another couple also alighted who were carrying a copy of the London Loop book and we stopped and had a quick chat, they too had been making they way all around the loop in stages from Erith.
The path follows the road through Chigwell, passing the church in photo 1 before turning left and heading through some rough ground to reach fields that head towards Hainault Forest, photos 2 and 3. For a while part of the route is shared with the route of the Three Forests Way a path which I had finally completed earlier in the year.

Hainault Forest Country Park
Hainault Forest Country Park
Hainault Forest Country Park
Hainault Forest Country Park

My OS map of the area is quite old and does not show the path of the Loop which is not always that well signposted on the ground however I followed the directions in the loop book. I think that the path has been diverted slightly from the route shown through the Hainault Country Park as I passed a couple of loop signs that pointed not quite in the same direction as the route I took as shown in the book, not that it makes much difference. Anyway I had a very enjoyable stroll through Hainault Country Park, photos 5,6,7 and 8 above, although I strayed slightly off route through the golf course and very nearly got hit by a flying golf ball which only helps confirm my opinions about golf courses.

Maize field nr Havering Country Park
Maize field nr Havering Country Park
Maize field nr Havering Country Park
Hainault Forest

Once I had found the correct route and crossed the golf course the path cut across a field of maize. I had not had to walk through a maize field before and the path was quite overgrown. The cobs seemed almost ready to eat although I decided against picking any, (photos 9, 10 and 11). The path then made its way to the Havering Country park via a very bumpy bridle path which made for some quite uncomfortable walking. Just before entering the park there are some very impressive views across London that give a very different perspective to that from the hills of South London, photo 13.

View over London
Church, Havering atte Bower
Fields, Havering atte Bower
Iron Gatepost

The loop path takes a straight path through the park, past a number of tall Wellingtonia trees before reaching the church at Havering-atte-Bower, photo 14. After a very short stretch of road walking the path once again heads off across very pleasant farmland before reaching Noak Hill where the path turns towards the South and starts heading towards Harold Wood, photos 15 to 21. The white horse in photo 19 was particularly sociable and seemed very keen to try and explore the contents of my rucksack, even though I was wearing it at the time.

Fields Nr Pyrgo Park
Friendly White Horse
Fields Nr Pyrgo Park

Up to this point this had been a very enjoyable stretch of loop path however the final few miles are not quite so pleasant. The path roughly follows the route of Carters Brook (photo 22) which then becomes the River Ingrebourne, passing along a narrow strip of of suburban park land, photo 23, flanked on either side by a variety of housing estates which comprised Harold Wood before a final stretch of road walking takes the loop path to Harold Hill station, photo 24.

Water Tower, Havering atte Bower
Carters Brook, Harold Hill
Loop path, Harold Hill
Harold Wood Station

The GPS made this stage, 10.7 miles long, alhtough I forgot to turn it on when I arrived at Chigwell and had probably done .4 of mile by the time I remembered which would make the stage just over 11 miles long. The first eight miles were very enjoyable walking, the last few a bit dull.

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