weirdwalthamstow

The biggest walk yet; Higham Park lake and Connaught Water.

In walking on September 22, 2020 at 8:28 pm

After posting about my walk to Epping Forest along Forest Road twitter user @welshbeard suggested a walk along the river Ching to Connaught Water. While I didn’t follow the exact route they suggested I thought it an excellent destination to aim for.

Starting up Hale End Road. Hello 275 bus, my old friend.

Starting out from my home at the bottom of Higham Hill I walked to Hale End Road. Now much of the start of my walk to Higham Park follows part of the 275 bus route. For the first two and a half years of dating my partner I’d get this bus to come and visit her in Walthamstow. I felt a lot of nostalgia.

Walking into Hale End itself I admired the lovely old houses of the area. There is a triangle of land which is the original center of the area before Higham Park Station. On it is a lovely information board telling the history of the area.

I honestly love this stuff.

Carrying onward I soon found the road crossing the river Ching. As a fan of Ben Aaronovich’s ‘Rivers of London’ books I have to wonder what the goddess of the Ching would be like.

Sadly you can’t walk along the river at this point.

Before going to the lake I took a short diversion up to the train station.

One of the lovely new mosaics on the Chingford line stations.
This place was mothballed even when I was traveling past it in 2003. So sad. Hopefully the regeneration of the EMD will provide inspiration?

Thank heavens for Google maps. I followed the clearly marked Ching down the backstreets.

Rabbits in a small local playing field.

It’s not far from the main road, although the little pathways are a bit confusing.

Higham Park is a fair size lake with well kept paths and foliage around it. I couldn’t find a seat out of the sun, now getting warm as it approached 11:30 AM. But I found a shady bit of grass between the lake and an open grassy area.

Success!
I find large bodies of water deeply relaxing.

I settled down for a long break. I drank the half liter of tap water I’d brought and ate the fruit bars. I had to decide if I was carrying on to Connaught Water. On the map it looked as far again as I had walked. But Google maps said 40 minutes. Feeling the spirit of adventure I slapped on more factor 50 and put on my cap. Let’s do this!

The weather was perfect for a long walk.

I continued North East across the grassy, occasionally wooded Whitehall Plain. I found a section of footpath under two crab apple trees. The fallen fruit had rotted and the area spelt wonderfully of cider. In another bit of woodland I watched two young deer foraging. It is a pretty idyllic place.

Yeah, grass and trees.

I was rapidly coming to regret bringing only one bottle of water. I’d hoped to find a shop or petrol station on the roads I crossed. But no, only sun and occasional patches of shade.

Not in Kansas any more, Toto

Apart from a small 5 minute break to take a phone call that 40 minutes estimate was spot on. I soon got to the Connaught Water’s car park (no ice cream van, dammit) and took a walk around the well kept path around the lake. It’s not all that big, it reminds me of Westport Lake where I grew up in Staffordshire. I could not find a seat in the shade so decided to not dwell and head towards Chingford Station in search of refreshments.

Ahhh, so relaxing.
Hello duckies.

I walked through more fields and forest, realising that in early afternoon not sitting by the lake was the smart move. But what is this I see coming around the corner?

Could it actually be…?
HALLELUJAH!

Sitting under a parasol with a coke in a glass full of ice I slowly revived myself. It was a lovely, sunny day. My feet were sore. I’d been to places I’d only heard of and seen on Google maps. But the day wasn’t done with me! As I started towards the station second time I found just along the road the Epping Forest visitor centre!

There is a fab view from the centre’s balcony across some of the forest. Exploration for another day.

The visitor centre tells the history of the forest. Which mostly seems to consist of royalty and nobles trying to claim bits of it and common folk telling them to bog off. There is a big section on conservation and maintenance. The writer of the info panels has a sly, subversive dry wit and I recommend reading the lot.

I was the only person in there on a Tuesday afternoon. I was so content to be in air-con, reading history.
William Morris!

To round the afternoon off I had a walk around the street with Chingford Station on it. I’d never been before but resisted the lure of charity shops. I did, however, buy another cold soft drink to carry!

Another lovely mosaic. Annoyingly I forgot to get the Walthamstow Central one!

I got the Overground back home, at which point my poor feet were so unhappy I took a couple of ibuprofen with my bottle of pop. I’d been wearing my Sketchers deck shoes which I think were the best call on a hot day; my new Merrel walking shoes had rubbed me just a little on a trip to Islington the previous Friday so I was playing it safe.

This was the most invigorating of my local walks so far in 2020. I hope the weather holds a little longer so I can go straight to Chingford and explore more of the forest.

A long walk to Epping Forest

In history, Places on August 26, 2020 at 1:53 pm

Hi Walthamstow. I hope you are well. I imagine a lot of you are having a tough time right now. I lost my job at the start of August. It was expected but still came as a blow. And some days it just gets me down. It did yesterday and the bad weather put me off going out. So I promised myself a long walk today.

The town hall has its mask on too!
A mural I’d not seen before.

I usually never walk further up Forest Road than the Bell pub. To Wood Street at a pinch. So in the spirit of exploring my own neighbourhood I set off in search of Epping forest. The East end of the road is very much more suburban, passing picturesque roads and little estates of low rise flats and cottages. It must be a nice area to live, if you drive. After about 30 minutes from my Higham Hill home I found a sign I was on the right track.

IT’S A SIGN!
The end of the road.

I swung a left up some very incongruous metal steps more at place in a factory into a wide open circular area that Google maps promises me is genuinely referred to as “The Donut”. There were a number of dog walkers, joggers and cyclists like the other natural areas of Walthamstow. Aren’t we an active lot?

A panarama of the donut. Yes, a big, bland, open area but the doggies seem to like it.

There is very little signposting so I was grateful for Google maps on my phone. The area of woodland seems to be bisected by the A406 and another busy road. Although I rather enjoyed seeing some traffic action.

Beep, beep!

There seems to be a network of subways under all the roads. Seriously, they need some map signs up as it is very confusing. But I found my way to the other side of the heavy traffic into the Hale End side of the forest.

I must be in a nice bit of Walthamstow because the subway graffiti is better.

The bit of forest across the A road is pretty big. And in some parts I didn’t see people for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. It was nice; wilder than I expected with footpaths actually more like worn trails with no formal structure. If you haven’t been before I recommend sensible off road footwear.

If you go down to woods today, you’re sure for a nice surprise; a new place to walk.
Like everywhere in London you can’t walk three minutes without tripping over some local history.
The amusing thing is I’m a horror fan so being alone in the woods also scares the shit out of me.

I was tempted to walk further but my feet were already complaining. I think if we get another warm day I’ll get the 123 bus up there and then walk through Hale End to Highams Park. But having crossed out of the Borough bounderies I decided to stroll back through the backstreets to central Walthamstow for lunch.

History. Bloody everywhere.

By the time I’d had lunch my feet hurt so much I took ibuprofen. Take that, anxiety and depression!

Coppermill Pub review

In Drink on August 12, 2020 at 4:53 pm
A few weeks back I wrote about my walk through Springfield Park and Walthamstow Marshes. And on the way back I ticked off another ambition of trying the Coppermill pub on Coppermill Lane. I’ve walked past a bunch of times with my partner but she’s not a drinker or a fan of pubs. So I decided to treat myself to a cold pint.
A period appropriate exterior for the local streets.
As expected there was a hand sanitising station at the entrance. I went in to a totally empty pub. I sat myself at a table after checking out the pumps; only ale was London Pride, ciders and about 4 lagers. Still, on a hot day a cold lager was ideal.
The decor is a mix of authentically old and mock antique

The landlady had been sitting outside chatting but soon came in. They are doing table service indoors. They didn’t have the Red Stripe on so I had a cold Kronenbourg instead. At £4.40 it wasn’t cheap; to put that in perspective I’d had a Redemption Tribute at the Bell the previous week at £4.00.

The radio was on, I settled in with my book enjoying the shade and lager after a couple of hours walking. It was a nice hour. I don’t think this will be a destination pub for me as I’m usually looking for interesting ales. But after a long walk in the Wetlands or Marshes I think a cold lager will be appreciated.