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Words and Photography by

Harry Hawkins

The London Loop - Leg 4

A Path - Harrow Weald Common woods

March 2007

The London Loop Leg 4

Moor Park Station To Elstree & Borehamwood Station

Saturday, 24th March, 2007

The London Loop is a 140 mile walk around London and roughly just inside the M25 (although you do not see it) passing through as many green places as possible such as parks, woods, commons, riverside protected areas and open farmland.

The West Essex Ramblers covered this in about 10 mile stretches over the period 2006 to 2008.

We followed the path using "The London Loop" by David Sharp, ISBN1854107593, œ13 rrp.

Click photos below for larger image

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Some commentary on the photos,

which is also a reflection on the walk

[Road information is just to help identify where we were].

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The West Essex Group did this on 24th Feb 2007, but my wife and I walked it later because we had been on holiday.

Leaving Moor Park Station, we were soon walking on the edge of Sandy Lodge Golf Course (pic 1); then across the course (pic 2); next, over to the other side of the course for a view of the Colne Valley - poor visibility as it was very overcast - (pic 3); and finally a sleeper footbridge in Oxhey Woods.

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Oxhey Woods had muddy paths (pic 1), hence boots and gaiters are recommended, and rhododendrons (pic 2) appeared occasionally. I found it difficult to take pictures to represent the wood properly, so here is one of a gnarled tree (pic 3).

[We crossed the B4542 road].

We went down some steps (pic 4) farther into Oxhey woods.

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I found this tree interesting, as it was standing apart from the others and was much larger. I think we had just moved from Oxhey Woods to Nanscot Wood and were walking gently downhill.

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Soon we were on Pinnerwood Farm. A horse (pic 1) was one of about eight in a field. We walked down to the farm where riding lessons were being given (pic 2). The Victorian farmhouse (pic 3) followed and around the corner there was Pinner House (pic 4).

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A ditch divided two fields (pic 1), this was shortly before the Hatch End turn off. Spring blossom (pic 2) started just north of a housing estate where we had a short break.

[We crossed the railway, walked along the B4542 and crossed the A4008].

A horse (pic 3) found the grass was greener outside the field, then we walked beside Grim's Dyke Golf Course (pic 4).

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There was no real evidence of Grim's Dyke, to a layperson like myself , except for this nicely set up plaque.

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In the woods opposite was a pond (pic 1) then an aerial array  high in and above the trees (pic 2) - a good entry for the Tate Modern perhaps. A plank bridged a pond(pic 3), then there were the woods (pic 4) of Harrow Weald - there was evidence of surface gravel having been removed - something that took place in the nineteenth century.

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This was the first of five information boards about the area’s local history and topography - all are readable at the highest resolution although some are difficult.

This was Harrow Weald Common and opposite the board was this view from a car park in Old Redding Road between the A4008 and the A409.

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Fifty yards east of the car park is "The Case Is Altered" pub, apparently not an uncommon name. We had an enjoyable meal here - one cottage pie and one duck roast, all served within twenty minutes.

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We left the pub, walked east, and re-entered Harrow Weald Common woods where, on a bend in the path, there was this lovely house.

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Around the corner, the path ran down the edge of the wood beside a field.

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[We crossed the A409 road].

This board in Bentley Priory Local Nature Reserve was sited after the next composite of 4 photos. We entered at Common Road, followed the brown path and left via Priory Drive.

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The above meant we skirted the grounds of Bentley Priory (built in 1766 on an Augustinian Friars site). It was the headquarters of the RAF Fighter Command during the second world war. We passed a pillbox (pic 1), then there was a path (pic 2), then a glimpse of Priory House (pic 3) and finally another path (pic 4).

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[We crossed the A4140 road].

In Warren Lane Car Park there were two boards. This one, the Bentley Priory Circular Walk, also included Harrow Weald Common (to the west) and Stanmore Common (to the east).

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The second board was about Stanmore Common, which we only walked through at its most southerly part.

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Somewhere near Warren Lane, in the woods, was a fallen tree - one of many since January’s winds.

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We crossed Warren Lane and passed a cricket ground. This was the right hand pond (of two) with an angler (pic 1). The pond was long and widened out (pic 2) which presented a pleasant view.

Soon we came in sight of Caesar's pond (pic 3) at Stanmore Little Common. Another view of it (pic 4) with eighteenth and nineteenth century cottages.

If you are running late you can slip off here to Stanmore Station.

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Having walked north for a while, we approached the M1. This view shows the way we came.

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[We crossed the M1, and walked along the A411].

This board about Aldenham County Park is sited after the reservoir shown in the next composite photo.

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Here was the Aldenham Reservoir (pic 1) taken from the A411. After walking past the reservoir, then crossing Aldenham Road, this was the southerly view with a field and Elstree Church spire in the background (pic 2).

[We crossed the A5183 and into the B5378].

Here we looked back and down over farmland (pic 3) and finally a view across Elstree Golf Course.

We walked through a another wood down to the B5378 then up to Elstree and Borehamwood Station.