10 October, 2006

London Loop completed. Harold wood to Coldharbour Point.

This was a rather dull walk, and like the Capital Ring, the loop saves the worst until the last. The walk did have its moments, not least the glass of wine I had at the end.

The first point of interest came at Stratford Station where I was complimented on my camera by a young man who had been working all night with a shovel as a pavior. He was telling me how much he had earned with Islington Council, and this was very impressive. Then a very drunk Irishman called Coleman approached (this is 10 o’clock in the morning) who told me he had drunk a bottle of teachers whisky. He insisted I take his photo. He was alternately Irish, English and Jewish and very loud. He and the pavior were turning cartwheels on the station, I suspect the staff thought to leave well alone. The conversation covered drink, narcotics and their effects on the body and mind, pay rates in the building trade and routemaster busses. Coleman got off the train at Forest Gate and I was left with the pavior who was very pleasant and left at Ilford.

From the train I also saw a coal tax post on the side of the railway.

After this excitement Harold Wood was an anticlimax. I bought a Sunday Times (for the free DVD - mona lisa – a good film in spite of Michael Caine being in it) and my lunch. I had to throw the Sunday Times away later as it was too bulky to carry, and I didn’t enjoy my lunch either. Most of the walking at Harold Wood was through suburban streets but Harold Wood Park was quite nice with trees of different colours adding variety to the landscape and a few footballers playing in a Sunday league. Leaving the park into a community forest I then came to a road and walked along into Upminster, past a few delapidated farms one with an old granary on mushroom posts.
At the end of a suburban road there was a woodlanded way leading up past a school and into more suburban streets. Then there were some donkeys in a field and a parade of shops. Following another suburban street I saw the Upminster Windmill and walked along to a sports centre and park beside the Ingrebourne. I carried on through the Ingrebourne valley (dull dull dull) past St Georges Hospital which looked nice, and saw another couple who were doing the loop. Engaging them in conversation this was their second outing on the loop having come from Chigwell.

More deadly dull suburbia and busy road followed. Not sure why the road was so busy as it only went to Rainham but never mind. I did get to Rainham with its lovely and near complete Norman church and its beautiful 17th Century hall. The peace memorial was in the form of a clock. Now had the loop ended at Rainham (after all, it is a loop not a ring) I think everybody would be happy, but it has to go on. The Channel tunnel rail link goes past Rainham so I had to negotiate a large bridge over this and some very unpleasant industrial areas on Rainham Marshes. However the path soon comes to the Thames, and I walked along to the barrier at Coldharbour Point, then took myself back again to a seat where I raised a third of a bottle of wine in toast to the achievement. But like the Ring, I’ll never do the final section again.


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