Eleven of us gathered on a boiling hot 21st July day to walk in Epping Forest.
Starting at the public golf course, we headed towards Connaught Water, picking up Paul K. on the way. Crossing Rangers Road and starting to climb we were surprised to find water running across the surface of the ground. Across Epping Road near the Warren Wood pub we climbed up to Buckhurst Hill cricket ground where we turned north towards the Warren. A descent to Manor Road gave us a chance to recover our breath for the climb to Quist’s Oak where a drink stop was ordered. Down to Nursery Road and The Warren where Brian chose a path that soon became very muddy. This was surprising given the high temperatures we have been experiencing but we were soon past the muddy bits and those in sandals could cheer up. On to Epping Road where we crossed again and started back home. A stop at Grimston’s Oak for a drink and then a long slog in the pitiless sun across Chingford Plain to finish at the Golf Club café where ice cream was the order of the day.
Brian U., 21st July 2021
A Visit to Rainham Marshes (RSPB Reserve)
Saturday 19th June was a much cooler day than we’d had lately, but was pleasant for our walk around Rainham Marshes, organised by Ann.
Eight of us - Ann, Trevor, Tony, Frances, Parviz, Lynne, Richard and myself - met up and were pleased to find that the hides are now open.
We saw a lot of different birds, including grey herons, egrets, a common ringed plover, reed buntings and skylarks. We also heard, but did not see, chiffchaff and Cetti’s warbler.
We were treated to an extended view of a marsh harrier flying around and overhead when we stopped for our packed lunches at the picnic tables. The marsh harrier flew over for a while, dived down, reappeared, then repeat, for well over half an hour – a splendid sight.
As well as the various birds, we also spotted small yellow snails and ladybird larvae in the hedgerows.
We heard the chorus of marsh frogs before we saw them in the lake; in fact, they were so loud, I couldn’t believe it was frogs responsible and thought it was another type of bird. But then we spotted the frogs swimming and puffing out their “cheeks”, making a distinctive sound like laughter.
Towards the end of our walk, we took a slight detour to the adventure playground and climbing boulders. This provided certain members of our group with the opportunity to showcase their climbing, sliding and swinging skills. Parviz, in particular, excelled in climbing up the boulders and, with a bit of instruction from others as to where the toeholds were, descending safely to earth.
All in all, a very enjoyable visit, thank you to Ann for organising.
Cathy S. 21st June 2021
A June Walk in Epping Forest
A gloriously sunny Wednesday 9th June saw seven of us collect in Jacks Hill car park, one of the Epping Forest car parks that does not yet charge. Most of us were in shorts and t-shirts, it was so warm.
We moved off northwards on the Green Ride to reach Bell Common where we turned back south alongside Epping New Road. It is a track at this point, and after many hot dry days I was surprised to find that the track was quite boggy in places. Past the Coal Duty marker-post and the entrance to Ambresbury Banks, and dodging many muddy patches, we eventually emerged onto a surfaced path. Crossing Epping New Road we carried on south, past the Wake Arms roundabout and over Woodredon Hill. Not for the first time a motorist slowed down to let us cross the road safely.
Val was suffering with her knee, having slipped on the muddy track earlier, so she stormed ahead to be able to rest at High Beach while we waited for the stragglers (Kathy and Peter, both talking at full speed). We arrived and had our usual excellent food and drink at the green tea hut by the Pillow Mounds. It seems to me that there are fewer cars now that parking costs money. Clive turned up here. He meant to join us at the start but had an exciting time walking up from Theydon Bois which delayed him. He knew we were heading for High Beach and made his own way there.
Carrying on, we followed the Beech Trail for a while, crossing Epping Road to reach the Green Ride again. Turning north we climbed and descended the demanding slopes around there to reach Jacks Hill again where our cars were baking in the sun.
Brian U. 9th June 2021
Copped Hall and Upshire
On Wednesday 5th May we met at the Lodge Road car park in Epping Forest, only recently re-opened after closure for a couple of years due to fly tipping. A large group of us needed splitting up, which occurred naturally as we set off, those chattering at the back and those walking at the front. We headed for Copped Hall past the entrancingly named Bog North. Even with the prolonged dry spell it was indeed still boggy. We entered the Warren Plantation and crossed over the M25 to arrive at Copped Hall. The repaired pediment and new chimney stack were admired but the newly installed light-well could not be seen from outside. Covid restrictions still apply and the house is not open to visitors – even the volunteers on the estate are discouraged from entering.
Down the slope towards the White House we followed Peter Gamble’s night walk route, up past the substantial houses around Copped Hall Gardens. Through the gate and turning away from the stables we walked up past Copped Hall Green, getting off the road each time cars came to and from the stables. The we turned right to Nicholls Farm and then left onto a path bordering Obelisk Field. Last time we were here we saw a herd of deer next to the obelisk but no luck today. The path is used by horses and we were lucky that it had been dry as we negotiated some chewed up dips in the path.
At Obelisk Farm we crossed the road and went into Warlies Park, where the Epping Forest cattle are overwintered. The cattle, and their many young, seemed curious about us and we were aware of their large horns as they moved towards us. We walked up past Warlies Park House, now a business centre and looking very good in the sunshine. Once again we tried to remember the name of the capitals of columns – Ionic, Corinthian and … .We decided that these were Ionic.
A steep climb up the slope away from the House brought us to the Horseshoes pub in Upshire. They staggered a bit when we all trooped in without a booking but rallied magnificently and provided substantial meals. We sat in the rear garden and many coats were taken off as the sheltered position and the sun heated us up.
We walked up the road with full stomachs, past Oxley Wood and up the path to cross the M25. Here Brian did his “Duke of York” routine, sending the group up a steep slope only to bring them down again as he realised his mistake. He only went wrong twice more as we headed vaguely back to our cars. To put the seal on the day, having been sunny most of the time, it started raining soon after we arrived home.
Brian U. 8th May 2021
Ilford to Redbridge, and Wanstead Park's bluebells.
I met the rest of Trevor’s attendees for his walk from Ilford towards Redbridge, on Bank Holiday Monday 3 May 2021, at Sainsbury’s in Ilford.
There were nine of us, so I offered to lead a sub-group consisting of Ann, Fozie and Madeleine, whilst Trevor went ahead with Eileen, Chris, Ian and Louise. This was so as to be in line with the six-maximum requirement for meetings outside during the 2020/21 Covid crisis.
We were supposed to keep in view of the other group, but we quickly lost sight of Trevor’s when we stopped to look at the Roding and the Alders Brook at Ilford Bridge, then deviated to look at the Alders Brook from Lugg Approach*. We saw them again when they’d stopped to look at the brook just by the Great Eastern and Liverpool Street to Shenfield railway lines. I wonder if they noticed the magnificent Chusan Palm growing alongside the nastiest bit of the walk - Romford Road in Little Ilford? They would certainy have noticed the colourful graffiti adorning the walls approaching the railway underpass.
It gets a bit vegetative from this point onwards, so there were a few occasions where we discussed flowers, and then saw the other group briefly when they had either stopped to look at the Roding or stopped to wait for us to come into view. Maybe a bit of both? We discussed Sandpipers and Chiffchaffs with some cycling birders, then proceeded into Epping Forest, by way of the old sewage works site. I don’t know – because we didn’t see the others for a while – but we took the mysterious riverside-bank walk, while maybe the others followed the parallel Roding Valley Way surfaced track, to then cross the river to the Redbridge bank.
Walking northwards still, we paused to talk about the panorama across the river along the ornamental canal and up The Glade, to where Wanstead House would once have commanded the view across the horizon. From the ‘official’ Roding Valley Way track, we descended to the now derelict grassy area which had been Kearley and Tonge’s – once “The Greatest Grocers in the World” – sports fields. It was decided that a sandwich break was in order, and although we had seen the preceding group in the far distance – maybe waiting for us again – a phone call to Trevor suggested that they forge ahead whilst we make our own time.
Having finished our little break – seated on a grassy bank – we made our way to the Redbridge Roundabout, where various options presented themselves. Originally, the walk was going to continue from here eastwards to Valentines Park, but Trevor had said at the beginning that he was now going to include Wanstead Park and its bluebells instead. That was fine with me, because I had intended to leave the walk here anyway, and walk back home through Wanstead Park. It was probably convenient for Fozie, too, as she could easily get home from here. But Ann and Madeleine had not heard of the change of route, and had left their cars in inconvenient locations for a return from Wanstead Park. And, too, they hadn’t heard Trevor mention it at the beginning. Fozie waited for a bus, Madeleine decided that returning to Gant’s Hill might be a better option, but Ann wanted more of a walk and so decided to accompany me to the park, from which I assured her she could get back reasonably conveniently by bus.
Approaching Wanstead Park along Warren Road, we could see by the number of cars parked that the park would be ‘heaving’. And so it was. We walked quickly through the bluebell wood* – with me moaning about the numbers and disrespect some were showing to the flowers by trampling them – and caught up with the others at the kiosk, where tea and coffee and an outdoor bench were available. I had to apologise to Trevor for getting so far behind, and he suggested that he thought the rest of ‘my’ group may have chucked me into the river for pointing too many things out. And that I had lost 50% of my group – which must say something.
I bade them farewell (actually said ‘goodbye’ or some such), as their plan was to make their way to Ilford via the east end of Wanstead Park, and then by way of Valentines Park. At least that gave Ann company, and she didn’t need to pay for a bus back by herself.
Two minutes after we had parted, I watched a family of Great Crested Grebes on Heronry Pond. Dad was feeding one grebeling, and mum was trying to sleep whilst the other grebelets were trying to climb under her wings. It is a wonderful sight, and I am sorry that the others didn’t see that.
Thanks to Trevor for arranging the walk, and the others who came on it.
Paul Ferris 4th May 2021
* For more information about the walk from Ilford to Redbridge, click HERE
* For more about the Bluebells in Wanstead Park, click HERE
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