▷ Autumn leaves

The London Loop walk from Elstree to Cockfosters



The first part of this section was grim, following a very tedious road for the first mile or so, but adopting the tried and tested approach of walking like the clappers along the boring bits we soon entered the beautiful old oak woodland of Scratchwood. But this respite was short lived. We met the A1 and were faced with a half mile walk south along the carriageway to reach an underpass, and then a half mile trek back north. Various approaches to managing this were suggested. A minority wondered whether we could leap across the two dual carriageways during a lull in the traffic, but the purists reminded us that we have to take the rough with the smooth and of our no short cuts agreement. An interesting idea emerged though: as a fitting legacy of our walk we could start a campaign for a footbridge for future Loopers. We were soon rewarded as we entered the lovely Mount Moat Open Space and then the picturesque Dollis Valley Greenwalk as far as Barnet, where some more route marching took us along the streets to find a welcoming pub whose staff didn’t seem to mind us eating our packed lunches in the gardens. For the final stage, the guidebook more than kept its promise of encountering one of the ‘finest parts of the Loop’. It started with a climb through King George’s Fields into Monken Hadley
village which is full of history, charm, architecture, a pond complete with swans, some serious wealth – and sadly some unnecessarily aggressive security measures. The final stretch through a woodland path in Monken Hadley Common was glorious, with the sun now low in the sky. It is well worth a revisit – especially as it is so easy to reach. A short detour to Jack’s Lake (permit needed for fishing) presented us with fabulous views of the trees at their golden autumnal best. From there it was just a hop, skip and a jump to the tube, and the easiest of journeys home.

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