Across the top of London

From Enfield to Harrow Weald Common (on the London Loop route) in two consecutive mornings, about 40km when measured from and to home.

Day 1 started with a minor annoyance: I arrived at Turkey Street with a hundred-strong mass of schoolchildren milling through the station, and the TfL employee had opened the gates and set them on red, so I was charged the maximum for not having touched out (of course I did touch out, but it did not register on red).

I was soon on the Loop route, which I remembered (in reverse) so well that I did not need my map until I reached the headwaters of the Turkey Brook at Enfield Chase. When I crossed the road to reach the refuge route, though, things were very different. I remember fieldside paths into and out of the valley of the Salmon Brook (is this why the Loop is decidedly clockwise? — one would normally have the fish course before the meat), with a vague grassy path along the valley. But now, from Enfield Chase to Trent Park, there’s a dayglo-bright crushed stone path three metres wide, comparable to the Central Line being replaced by HS2. Admittedly easier on the thighs, but not on the eyes (not yet, anyway)

The formerly faint trace of a path by the Salmon Brook

Descending through Trent Park was not difficult, though at the bottom, there are two places where anticlockwise waymarking would have helped. With the temperature pushing north of twenty, I was ready for the (expensive) drink and pastry in the park café. The path from Cockfosters to Hadley was the usual wooded delight, then the swooping and rising to High Barnet station. A quick lunchtime stop at Kings Cross, and then off to the other end of the Tube.

Next morning, back to Barnet to search for the source of the Dollis Brook, go over Moat Mount, drop and climb to Scratch Wood, and drop into Borehamwood, which I reckon is Middle English for “No sign of a café”. After a corner-shop refuelling drink, I hit the heat again, stumbling round a maximum-security reservoir (the state of the path is as much a deterrent as the mesh fence) and up to Stanmore Common (with some backtracking due to ambiguous signage), and through the Bentley Priory estate (pictured at the top of the post) to Sandringham (well, that’s what the bus stop is called) on Harrow Weald Common. Normally, I’d have pushed on the short distance to Old Redding, but the Case is Altered pub has now closed. It was none too good or welcoming when I dropped in last year during a local walk, and the closure of a nearby council car park was the management’s excuse to give up (rather than create a car park of their own).

Next for this route, down the west side to Heathrow.

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