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WALTHAMSTOW TO PONDERS END
Via Chingford

I did this walk on Sunday 5th February 2012. After one of the warmest winters that I can recall a short spell of cold weather led to east London receiving its' first and probably only snow of the winter. I had been originally going to join a group walk out in Essex with Dave but given the amount of snow that had fallen overnight this was postponed and it seemed sensible not to venture out in the car thus I set off on foot from home. I had a rather late start as I had been in two minds whether to go out or not but it is so rare to have the opportunity to go out walking in the snow I eventually got up off my backside and headed out!

Beulah Road, E17
Whipps Cross
Epping Forest
(1) Beulah Road, E17
(2) Whipps Cross
(3) Epping Forest

From home I headed up the Lea Bridge Road towards Whipps Cross roundabout, photo 2, before heading up Forest Rise and into one of the outlying reaches of Epping Forest where I linked up with the route of the Epping Forest Centenary Walk. There had been about 4 inches of snow overnight, which is far more than we usually get in London, and all the trees and paths were covered in snow, photo 3, creating an almost monochrome landscape with the dark grey skies which remained all day.

Epping Forest, nr the A406
Highams Park Boating Lake
Swan, Highams Park Boating Lake
(4) Epping Forest, nr the A406
(5) Highams Park Boating Lake
(6) Swan, Highams Park Boating Lake

The lower reaches of the forest, photo 4, were busy with people out enjoying the snow as I made my way more or less along the route of the Centenary Walk out of town. The route heads up across the A503 and through another short patch of trees before I took the tunnel that runs under the A406. I then meandered through the trees up to the road at Oak Hill and then on to The Charter Road. Where the paths had been well used the snow had become compacted and was quite slippery to walk on yet the depth of snow meant that it was quite slow going through the areas that hadn't been trampled underfoot, however neither were much inconvenience given the pleasure of being out walking through the snow covered trees. Crossing Charter Road I headed up besides the Highams Park Boating Lake, photo 5, which was mainly covered in a layer of ice with only a few unfrozen areas here and there.

River Ching
Whitehall Plain
Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge
(7) River Ching
(8) Whitehall Plain
(9) Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge

Leaving the boating lake I headed up besides the River Ching, photo 7, as it meandered its way through the forest to the A1009 Chingford Road where I managed to get caught in the spray from a snow plough heading down the road. Crossing the road I then followed the Centenary Walk up through Hatch Forest to the A110 Whitehall Road. From their I continued ahead along the edge of Whitehall Plain, photo 8, before joining a footpath on the left that headed over the now very narrow river Ching and on up to Warren Pond and A1069 Rangers Road by the Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge, photo 9.

Chingford Plain
Green Lane, Sewardstonebury
View from Barn Hill
(10) Chingford Plain
(11) Green Lane, Sewardstonebury
(12) View from Barn Hill

Here I briefly linked up with the route of the London Loop, heading to the right past the Butlers Retreat Cafe. I was pleased to see that this was once again open for business although I resisted the temptation for a quick bite to eat. Heading round the back of the cafe I followed the London Loop across the Chingford Plain, photo 10, back towards the trees. However at this point I spotted that I was running out of battery power in both my camera and GPS so detoured back into Chingford to find a newsagent where I could by some replacements. Normally I have spare batteries in my rucksack but for this walk I was using my small rucksack I usually use for work so had none of my normal kit with me. I then headed through some side roads up to the Chingford Golf course and over to rejoin the route of the London Loop, running parallel with Bury Road. I continued ahead along the road through Sewardstonebury up to Carrolls Farm where I headed to the right along Green Lane, photo 11. I then followed this lane up to Mott Street. The even surface of the snow on the path covered a very rutted and uneven bridleway which made walking quite difficult as all the lumps and bumps were hidden. At the end of the lane I joined a footpath that headed up the flank of Barn Hill from where photo 12 was taken looking back towards Epping Forest.

View from Barn Hill
Bridges by the Old River Lea
River Lea nr Enfield Lock
(13) View from Barn Hill
(14) Bridges by the Old River Lea
(15) River Lea nr Enfield Lock

Looking the other way there were views down across the Lea Valley and King George's Reservoir, photo 13. I had had no real destination in mind when I had set out and had half thought I might be able to walk all the way back to home but walking in the deep snow was proving very tiring and I realised at this point that I would have to stop somewhere before home. I then headed down Barn Hill to the A112 Sewardstone Road where I once again linked up with the London Loop. I then followed this path as it made its way down Godwin Close and across Sewardstone Marsh towards the River Lea. The route heads over a newish metal bridge over the River Lea Flood Relief Channel and then an older concrete bridge over the Old River Lea, photo 14. The path then heads along the water channel, crossing another watercourse leading to the reservoir before bending round to the left to reach the River Lea Navigation, photo 15, by the Swan and Pike Pool.

River Lea
Ponders End lock
Ponders End station
(16) River Lea
(17) Ponders End lock
(18) Ponders End station

Turning to my left I then began following the canal down towards London. The weather had been supposed to brighten up during the day but the skies remained very gloomy making it appear much later than it actually was. The stretch of towpath alongside the reservoir is rather dull and it was a bit of a plod as I made my way down alongside the frozen canal towards Ponders End, photo 16. The banks of the reservoir blocked any views away to my left and the other bank of the canal was lined by a succession of industrial estates. Reaching Ponders End lock, photo 17 I realised that I would not have time to get down to Tottenham Hale in daylight and thus I left the canal at Wharf Road and headed over to Ponders End station, photo 18, to start my journey home having walked 12.8 miles, although it felt like much further. My thighs were feeling particularly tired after this walk from walking on the slippery surface.

There are two trains an hour from the station on Sunday and I had a 20 minute wait for the next train which gradually lengthened to nearer 40 minutes as the train was running late. I had worn my leather boots for this walk and towards the end of the day they had started leaking slightly which meant my feet got rather cold while I was waiting on the platform. This gave me something to think about what I would do if I was using the boots in a more remote area and I gave them a good waterproofing when I got back, the snow had been very effective in cleaning of all the dirt. Reaching Tottenham Hale there was no underground service however I was able to get a replacement bus back towards home without much further delay. Despite feeling quite tired at the end of the day this had been a very enjoyable walk and I was glad that I had gone out rather than just sat at home even if I didn't get that far.

As usual I have uploaded the route for the walk which can be accessed here: Walthamstow to Ponders End route.

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