Archive for the ‘London Outer Orbital Path’ Tag

London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP), Index   5 comments


So, now it is finished.

The London Outer Orbital Path is supposed to be a 150 mile long walking trail around the perimeter of London, but my sense of navigation made some of the segments shorter (and most of them longer) than published in the official Guide Pages and I ended up covering 164 miles on or very near it.  It is broken, rather arbitrarily, into 24 sections which I covered, one or more at a time, as listed here:

Sections 1-2, 15 May 2017, industrial Thames, art deco houses, 6 pubs
Sections 3-5, 30 May 2017, Birthday run and a bit laissez-faire with the routes, 6 pubs
Sections 9-6 (counter-clockwise), 10 May 2017, brutally long and unusually pretty run, 7 pubs and 2 fish
Sections 10, 11 March 2017, urban decay, Heathrow’s flight path, and 3 pubs
Sections 11-12, frequent dates and several times because this is so close to the house; all the pubs canal side are covered somewhere herein as are any within ½ mile
Sections 13-14, 12 March 2017, 3 pubs and a muddy, hilly mess
Sections 15, 11 May 2017, Gilbert’s House and rhododendrons plus 4 pubs and a kebab
Sections 16, 12 May 2017, More off-than-on trail but near enough for government work, 4 pubs
Sections 17-18, 16 May 2017, alternative routes but nice canal paths and parkland, 6 pubs
Sections 19-21, 21 May 2017, beautifully wooded segments; hot & sunny, 6 pubs
Sections 22-24, 22 May 2017, good WW2 artifacts, more industrial Thames, 5 pubs and a fish and chip meal

The descriptions here are as inept and inane as you have come to expect from this blog.  I point you to Des de Moor’s fantastically informative guides to the trails if you really want to tackle this project yourself (and learn a bit of the history of the areas you will traverse).  Follow the links to the ‘Commentary’ for each segment and enjoy!

(Section Order: 11-12-10-13-14-9-8-7-6-15-16-1-2-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-3-4-5)


London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 3-5)   8 comments

Jackie brought an upper respiratory infection with her from the States which finally took hold last Thursday and left her weak as a kitten and utterly miserable throughout the end-of-May Bank Holiday weekend. My case of it struck Tuesday morning as I awoke for my Birthday Run, this final leg of the London Outer Orbital Path, Sections 3-5. Awesome.











The plan was to arrive in Petts Wood close to 9:30 with the assumption that the Wetherspoons, like most do, would be serving at the bar from 9. I could get a hearty breakfast and something substantial to drink, that way, and also spread the pub visits out a bit more across the entire journey. That seemed the most prudent way to knock out 6 stops over 23-24 miles while not taxing my failing health too bad, but the bar didn’t serve alcohol until 10. I moved on hoping that the Change of Horses, my next planned stop, would be open by the time I got there. The timing was truly all fucked up, though.


But, so was my sense of direction and sometime after admiring the four-cylinder engine in the wood, I ran off the edge of my maps and had to find my way back by dead reckoning but without any sunlight (heavily overcast) to guide me. I really should start carrying a compass, again.




I found Locksbottom on the edge of one of my Ordnance Survey printouts and made it to the Change of Horses at 10:30 to find the doors open and the landlord singing to himself somewhere in the depths. “Are you open?” I asked when he emerged.




“No, sadly, not till 11.”
“Oh, damn the luck. I’ll be miles away by then.”
“Yes, but lost more often than not.”
“Where are you trying to go?”
“Pub, mostly. Oh, I see what you mean. I have a map.” I showed him the pile of A4 sheets with various fragments of the LOOP on them.
“Bad map? Or, just bad at reading it?” he asked, smiling.
“Yes,” I answered. We had a brief conversation about folk music (they have a folk music society that meets in the pub) then I headed on my way, still thirsty and starting to get a bit hungry.




Part of the path then slips through St Giles the Abbot Church where several volunteers were tidying the cemetery and pavements. S.G. the A. has a charter for its fair that goes back to the early 13th century but the cemetery is easily worth a visit even without the annual fete. For instance, this bronze has such detail that you would think the flesh was warm and soft.




Not much farther along and you have Bogey Road which is little more than a bridleway. I considered obvious jokes about boogers or the Treasure of the Sierra Madre but this simple and elegant piece of vandalism to a sign on the road made me smile and I decided that would be enough for this segment:





Moving along the ridge near a manor house, I spotted some foxgloves with the remains of a magnificent oak in the background. It turned out to be “The Wilberforce Oak” named for that early proponent of handheld smart devices I wrote about during the Hull trip.




Wilberforce was also a close pal of William Pitt the Younger and it is claimed that he decided, whilst talking it over with the then Prime Minister Pitt beneath the shade of this tree, to introduce legislation to end the slave trade.




You can’t get to the commemorative bench from the plebe side of the fence, but the house and gardens are occasionally open to visitors.




Having had no luck with the planned pubs (nor any of the 6 others I skirted past), I finally emerged in the village of Keston where there were two very good ones on the green (the Fox, which is more of a gastro pub, and the Greyhound which was the local CAMRA branch’s pub of the year).




More hilly trail followed and another chance to get lost before I found pub number 3 of my original plan, the Goat. Of course, it was closed despite its published hours so I went off plan a bit and actually followed trail (more-or-less) until I reached the Sandrock where I probably should have eaten (really beautiful pizzas were emerging from the wood burning ovens) but I had my mind set on the Steak Day at the Sir Julian Huxley a little further along.




Somewhere along the way, I passed the Greenwich Meridian and left the Eastern for the Western Hemisphere. I can’t be completely sure of the order of things since my mental notes got hazier as the day wore on (despite the nutrition afforded by my late lunch); I think this was mostly down to my deteriorating health — as I write this at lunchtime the day after, I have a fever, congestion, fatigue and a sore throat all as bad as anything I’ve developed in the last 10 years.




Anyway, the hills got steeper (I’m reasonably sure of that) and at one point it was hard to slow down barreling down toward a railroad crossing. The grade leveled slightly before some stairs, then after the crossing a more reasonable descent followed by another climb (again, with stairs for a large part of it — fuck me). Looking back toward the rail crossing, the steep decent was just to the right of the clay cliffs.




Also near here, there was the Wattenden Arms in a shadowy little village on the edge of an RAF base now used mostly for private small aircraft. They launch gliders from there and a few were circling like buzzards on this trip. About a mile later (and about a mile short of the finish, Coulsdon South Station where I would close the LOOP), there was another pub to hit: the Tudor Rose in Old Coulsdon.




Everything was downhill from there (literally and figuratively and for the next week with respect to health) except that I ran past the turn-off to the station and had to turn around and climb back a bit.

Of course.




Posted May 31, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Running, Tourism

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London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 22-24)   5 comments


The best marked sections of the entire London Outer Orbital Path were the 3 done today so the only times I strayed from the trail were intentional. As such, the only one of the many (I’m told) whimsical benches I found in the first park land I ran through was this bird:



Although these Steampunk street lamps modeled after the War of the Worlds Martian attack ships were a treat:



And, the park at the bottom of the hill from these had a very retro play item:



Just beyond that was a sea of nettles before a bridge to safety.  I almost expected a troll or to have to answer three questions to cross but it was just a bridge.



WW2 bunkers started appearing but the WW2 items later were a real treat.



Between the Bell and the Phoenix, in Rainham, there is a weird little clock tower.  Well, not so much a tower as a demonstration of a tower but it incorporates the war memorial so it should be approached as a solemn thing:



I’m assured that these turbines constitute the first wind farm in Europe.  They power, for the most part, the motor vehicle factory in Dagenham.



Yet another overly protective railway bridge:



And, even better way markers as you approach the end of the line:



It gets industrial as you approach the Thames.  Not as much as on Section 1, which you can see on the other shore, but visually appealing to someone like me:



So, here are those other WW2 artefacts: concrete barges from the D-Day landings.  I think they worked thus: towed at speed by the amphibious and other landing craft then released at the last minute to allow their enormous mass (and thereby momentum) carry them and their cargo ashore.



Watching over them, this little fellow is submerged at high tide.  I haven’t yet found out his creator:



But, the motif is picked up a few hundred meters away in the Cold Harbour light tower:




As mentioned earlier, you see Erith across the waters:



But, unlike that section, when you look inland you see the Rainham marshland:



It is a bird sanctuary.  Here’s the RSPB centre which administers the protected area (covered, this day, with birders carrying tripods for their massive scopes and telephoto lenses).



Just before leaving the Thames into Purfleet at the Royal Hotel, I spotted this well done reworking of a cautionary sign:



And, finally, at the station heading home there was this former road or rail flyover.  It doesn’t serve a purpose, anymore, so I’ll consider it technically a Thomasson (that link for the other examples I’ve found or this one for a more in depth discussion of the phenomenon):


London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 19-21)   5 comments


Still trying to finish the LOOP by the end of May, I continued Sunday in Chingford where I last broke from the path.  It was a beautiful and warm day and I could have used a hat for my balding pate.



There is something brutal and unnerving about some of the railway crossings, here.  But, you have to use them to get around.  This one was either just before or just after the Warren Wood pub:



Featured in Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge, Ye Old King’s Head is now called Sheesh and you can only get in via the car park which is gated and operated by remote security.  Fuck you.  At least, “Sheesh,” is an appropriate name.  Back when I was a kid it was an acceptable exclamation that allowed you to be doubly profane…a sort of blasphemous “Jeeeeesus” and “Shit” all rolled up into something that might appear in the funny pages of the Sunday newspaper.  Sheesh, indeed.



Instead, try the somewhat yuppie-offensive King William IV down the hill.  Later in the run, I found this other casualty of the pub closings plague (the Maypole) in Chigwell, but a quarter mile farther down the road the Two Brewers made up for the disappointment:



These sections of the LOOP are always right on the cusp of rural and urban life:



And, it is starting to get horsey out there.  It’s almost like someone decided, “right…we’re in Essex so we simply must maintain stables.”  This one is just behind the Orange Tree in Havering-ate-Bower.  On the way through the forest, I past several others along with many learning riders.



It is the season for cricket and loads of matches were on:



Just leaving the Bear, I spotted this big fellow in the sulky:



The roundhouse was mentioned but I only found the water tower:


And, this memorial plaque:



This stretch of pasture and woodland was where Henry VIII’s daughters Mary and Elizabeth spent their youths.



And, out of nowhere farmhouses and churches appear then fade back into the rural scenery:



I didn’t know what to think of this roadside deuce of a seat on the way to Harold Wood.



And, other roadside displays were on offer.



After a quick whiskey to lubricate my sore legs from within, the bustling Harold Wood station awaited.





London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 17-18)   6 comments



Tuesday was hard.  After Monday’s screw up that turned the 16 mile run into 22, I was sore and lazy and it took ages to get motivated to leave for Cockfosters to start sections 17 and 18 of the LOOP.  The weather looked awful and I just didn’t want to go.  However, when the Tube emerged from underground the sun had emerged and it looked a splendid day.



I diverted a bit to cross the defunct Middlesex University campus for which planning permission is sought to raze the place and put up cheap housing.  The first point of interest for me was spotting a Thomasson (above, and a better explanation of what this means is here).



It seems a great waste.  There’s nothing obviously wrong with these buildings except that the land they sit on is so expensive.  Fucking capitalists, price of everything/value of fuck all, grumble grumble grumble.



Not far from Middx Uni, I ran up on some glass houses which are all that is left of hundreds of hectares of these that used to produce most of the tomatoes and a variety of other fresh veg for the country.  With Brexit, these may come back into vogue, soon.



I took this photo in Barnet after three pubs in rapid succession in order to make a joke of some sort (which I’ll use later with another graffito…it’s a lame joke and inoffensive, but this is actually some serious paint):



I don’t speak Turkish, but as near as I can make out this is memorializing Sila Abalay, a leader of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) in Turkey, who was killed in a shoot out a couple of weeks ago having (it is said) killed a police officer.  I can’t get anything precise for ‘hesabini soracagiz’ but I think it is something like ‘we will hold them to account’ in this context.  Heady stuff for a jackass like me.



The Enfield lock and its canal were welcome since that put me only a few miles from my finish, I thought.  Across from the Greyhound pub, this yellow submarine caught my attention:



Especially the warning that “38 MAXIMUM PERSONS” were allowed.  Maybe if you chop them up into small pieces, first.



Along the way, I got some sage advice:



And, realised that I had not seen a LOOP way marker for ages.



I suspected that this was the bridge that would take me to the other side of the canal where the trail should be but, as it turned out, the canal I wanted was on the other side of the reservoir.  Shit.



Making the most of the situation, I found some public sculpture:



And, eventually found my way to the Royal Oak for some supper and a beer.  This was nice, as I was coming into Chingford Station from the south instead of the north so I won’t be doubling back over a lot of the trail.  This route also took me past this grand mosaic on the Assembly Hall:



And, as it was the afternoon rush hour, no one was going into London from out here so I would have a train car all to myself:



Here’s a map of how the day fell out.  The pub write-ups will come as soon as I get a bite to eat and some exercise.


London Outer Orbital Path (Sections 1-2)   10 comments


The putative starting point of the LOOP is Erith Station on the Thames just before it enters Kent (as does, inadvertently, a small section of today’s path).  The journey to the station involved facing away from whilst listening to what sounded like a very old cockney (who, upon examination, was in his early-to-mid 30s) and an Afro-Caribbean petty criminal and dope dealer (who, upon inspection, just turned out to be a skinny, white-trash teenager and also the not-so-old cockney’s cousin).  They sat across the aisles and several seats down from one another so they had to speak really loudly about the cockney’s ‘girl’ who was banged up in Reading Gaol until at least October, what a misery and expense it is to make the visiting journey, and how much he misses fucking her.  This last bit came with a level of detail, if not nuance, that was surprising considering the limitations of his vocabulary, otherwise.  You see why I avoided any chance of eye contact until my stop?



The riverside is about a hundred meters away from the station after a wee jog through the college.  The only pub I could be certain was still in business in the area was the Running Horses, so I made an early pit stop there.


The Thames estuary really starts to open up as it meets the North Sea in this part of town.



As I suspected, the White Hart was closed but I couldn’t tell if the refurbishment was for flats or if it would reopen as a pub.  Neither could I tell if the boat mural was new or restored, but either way it is magnificent:


It’s quite maritime in the neighbourhood.  This is the yacht club seen across part of the marsh:



But, for a couple of miles this is what you see off to your right:



Even the informative plaques seem to show debris:



It hadn’t occurred to me but the water is brackish here so you could do saltwater fishing or evapourate the waters for salt:



This is one of the salt pans described above:



When you finally get to town, it’s good to see modern art.  I found this on my way to the Duke’s Head in Crayford:



The next section had some construction by part of the trail and as a result I had my first opportunity to fly blind, as it were.


If you smirk at this, shame on you:



Variations of this tag were spread from Erith to Foots Cray.  I would have shot them all had I known they were going to change as much as they did, location-to-location:



It wasn’t just the construction that got me lost.  Some of it was the dearth of way markers on this part of the trail.  At one point, I found myself directly under a footbridge over a motorway that I was pretty certain I should be crossing:



And, indeed I found some of the markers in the next ¼ mile before they evapourated again and I wound up quite lost.



Which was fortuitous, lest I should have missed this trio of fine art deco structures atop a hill on the way to Bexley:





Once in Bexley, I was back on my maps.  And, again, shame on you:



A brief stop at the Railway Tavern preceded a bimble down the river to the Foots Cray Meadows where I found a much nicer bridge:



And, a stunning parkland:



Muscles aching at this point, I stopped for one more quick one at the Seven Stars before what should have been a quick dash down to Petts Wood (fnarr-fnarr).

The path just a 100 m away from the Seven Stars has been blocked, forcing you to find an alternative on your own.  At the A20, I made a choice that turned out to be not to bad since it put me, eventually, back on the way marked LOOP at the SW edge of Scadbury Park.  However, if you then follow the LOOP markers you will circumnavigate the park via a heavily wooded and very hilly path.  If kids did this as a prank, well done you; if the tenders of the trail did it, you fuckers should rot in Hell.

So, the second time I passed the car park I exited and stopped in the Sydney Arms for a fortifying whiskey and a bit of water to rehydrate.  Once again, I was off my maps and it was getting dark (clouds, not twilight) so I took a compass reading at the next major road and headed WSW until, in Chislehurst, I found a sign for Petts Wood and change course.  Just off the A208 on a trail in Petts Wood, I found a marker pointing downhill and followed it (and others spaced about 100 m apart) despite not trusting them at all until I got to the rail crossing and could once more match map to visual inspection.  I could easily have gone straight home but the Daylight Inn beckoned.

With three more sections to go down here, I headed back to the northern bit the next day.





London Outer Orbital Path (Section 16)   5 comments

I’m way behind writing things up, but the holiday runs are arduous and the drinking regimen is demanding.  Friday’s run (what day is it now…Monday?  Or, Tuesday?) was another segment of the London Outer Orbital Loop and, like Section 15, demanded a bit of zenning to make it through.



The train into Elstree & Borehamwood goes through a long tunnel just before the station.  Above is one of the air vents for the tunnel (there is an array of these in the field, there, standing in pairs every 100 meters or so).  The trail was supposed to veer southerly off the road soon after these but fuck me if I could find the marker.  I likewise couldn’t find a name on the Harvester where I stopped to regroup but have been assured it is named the King’s Arms.

Following the cycle path south along the busy highway hoping to find the trail again I, at least, found a sign pointing across the highway which would have required scaling a high fence in the median of this dangerous stretch at rush hour.  I opted to pick up the trail much later after a second stop at the Rising Sun.



From the Rising Sun, the trail becomes almost pastoral until you reach Barnet, a busy but small suburban town with enough bars to keep a crawl going for days.  I had to choose one so it was the King’s Head, just the other side of that church, above.



From glen to upscale suburb to not-so-upscale suburb and now into an industrial area.  A pedestrian tunnel with fairly pedestrian graffiti gets you across the railroad and a caged bridge takes you over a large gas works.



And, then you are back in the mid-range suburban neighbourhoods again.  I was caught off guard a bit by this stunning church which rose on my left and — I believe this is where it happened again — drove me off trail a tad.


Evening was falling, though, so I only stopped long enough for the external shots.



Inexplicably, I found trail again and made my way to the Cock (formerly the Cock and Dragon) to sip an ale and change into my dry kit.  From there, a leisurely trot through the neighbourhood to the tube station took a couple of minutes.

Pub write-ups as soon as I can get around to them.