Visiting my Geographical “Googleganger”: From Burgoyne Road N4 to Burgoyne Road SE25

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I lived on Burgoyne Road for some years but although I specifically set my home address to “Burgoyne Road N4”, whenever I tried to use Google Maps to plot a route back home, Google would occasionally send me the directions to “Burgoyne Road SE25” instead of “Burgoyne Road N4”. No matter what I did – such as entering in my entire postcode, unit number, landmarks, etc – Google still kept trying to send me to SE25.

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So a few months ago I decided to visit the OTHER Burgoyne Road, the “Googleganger” of my road that I kept being directed to – since I was already passing through Norwood on my Capital Ring walk.

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The other Burgoyne Road in South Norwood was a short walk from Norwood Junction, peppered with churches, payday loan shops, chicken shops, and the very average fly-tip strewn suburbia of South London.

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Unlike the very long and dramatically inclined Burgoyne Road in North London, which was situated off the very lively Green Lanes and on the Harringay Ladder itself, the Burgoyne Road in South London here was very short and flat.

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One of these very ordinary houses is the geographical googleganger of my flat in North London.

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It was all together very ordinary, but as I stood there for some time on this totally empty road, a woman came out of nowhere. All of my naive youthful excitement must have attracted this strange gypsy lady who then asked me what I was doing standing there. She started what seemed to be a rather normal conversation with me. “I’m from Burgoyne Road in North London!” I told her, “and you’re from Burgoyne Road in South London!” “Yes… Yes… very nice.” She smiled… following which things took a surreal turn and she suddenly turned a bit nasty and refused to let me leave unless I gave her money immediately. IMMEDIATELY! IMMEDIATELY! “But why?” “Because I have a baby.” “Ok, but that doesn’t answer why?” Even when I said I had no cash on me, she said she would take to me to the cash machine where I could draw money and give it to her a la daylight robbery! Very strange. But why would I give her all my money just because she was holding my arm and verbally insisting that I do so? I found myself running away from this Burgoyne Road…

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The neighbourhood didn’t seem so friendly after the weird experience. As I ran further down this claustrophobic road, a cyclist zoomed past a pedestrian in the vicinity too quickly and I heard a woman yell “WATCH WHERE YOU’RE GOING, WANKER!!!” – followed by another very demonstrative shout “SORRY!!!!?!?!!”

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UH, WELCOME TO SOUTH NORWOOD, I GUESS…?

Capital Ring #1: Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick

Stoke Newington to Hackney Wick
Distance: 4 miles / 6.4 km
Feels like: a breeze through the marshes
Date: 14 March 2017

 

A Return to the Rochester Castle – Springfield Park – Wilsons Hill – Avroplane crash landing site – Hackney Henge – Wick Woodland – Giant dogs with headphones and hoodies – Approaching Olympic territory

This is the start of 15 posts about how I did the Capital Ring in 6 days…

THIS IS HOW IT ENDED:

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AND THIS IS HOW IT BEGAN:

The walk usually begins in Woolwich, but I decided to start my loop in Stoke Newington. The first time that I came to the UK, the first area that I landed in happened to be Stoke Newington, and the first establishment I went to was also the splendid Rochester Castle which has the distinct honour of being the oldest Spoon, with its skylights, carpets, strange paintings, and wooden box seating. The familiar red-wine-and-pepper stained carpets of the humble Spoon! The extremely reasonable prices! So it seemed only fitting to begin my walk here with a hearty hot (kid-sized!) breakfast…

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THE START! THE START! Why do I always make this unfortunate face on camera.

Most of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill is already intimately familiar to me, having lived around those parts over the years. These parts of Hackney are scattered with these large rocks embedded into the pavement at junctions, and lots of community scribblings engraved into the pavement. At certain hours one also sees a lot of the Hasidic Jews with their distinctive hats (and secretive lives) quietly crossing from building to building.

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Ducks of Springfield Park

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The first significant stop on this walk is Springfield Park, which I personally always seem to forget the name of, until I am there, because its name sounds so generic. Springfield is one of those words like Sunnyvale (SEE ALSO: TRAILER PARK BOYS, HOUSOS). I’m not sure if the name Stamford Hill refers to any particular hill really, but if it were to be a hill this is the point at which Upper Clapton riseth-upper to a peak, thus it involves what some would say is an open slope down into the valley of River Lea. But of course in Debbie’s world this hill is a potentially vertiginous tumble that reminds me of that one time I got on a bike in this park, instantly almost fell off it, and concluded that combination of said bicycle and hill was most certainly a DEATH TRAP.

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The most prominent part of the hill, also known as Wilsons Hill, has existed here for at least 200 years in this singularly sloped form.

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From the northern end of Springfield Park, there’s a gate and footbridge leads out into the Lea Valley’s Walthamstow Marshes. Variously spelt LEY, LEE and LEA, its original name was Ley, but it was more commonly written as Lea on maps, whilst Acts of Parliament referred to it as Lee. Ultimately it was decided that natural elements of the river would be spelt as LEA and man-made features would be spelt as LEE. As the natural river winds through here, it is spelt as LEA.

As there is very little to hold on to, this part of the Lea Valley, as with other parts of the Lea Valley I’ve walked along is vertigo territory for me. But I’ll get back to that later.

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The open sandy track goes under a railway arch under which Aliot Verdon-Roe rented in 1909 to build his “Avroplane”, the first all-british tri-plane. He used the soft marshes of Walthamstow for his flight and crash landings. If you’ve ever seen one of these early experimental airplanes up close, it consists of wooden sticks and control cables and flaps and its one of my favourite eras of airplane building since it was so much so a prototype in progress and its an absolute marvel these precarious contraptions ever flew…

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Kings Head bridge
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Middlesex Filter Beds
Continuing on via the heavy black “Kings Head” footbridge to the canalised section of the Lee Navigation, one eventually passes the Middlesex Filter Beds on the left, more commonly known as the Hackneyhenge because huge blocks of granite formerly used as the foundations of the engine house have been converted into a mini Stonehenge.

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The canalway follows on for quite some distance, passing quite a lot of plane trees (including a giant dead plane tree cracked into two).

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As recent as 1995 all of these woodlands did not exist; beyond the trees, the Hackney Marsh once were the site of WWII gun emplacements and bunkers. After the war its vast open space were used as football pitches, until the 90s when it was decided that part of the space would be converted back to woodland. The success of the woodland has been due to planting programmes as well an episode of accidental flooding in 1997 (water mains burst!) which attracted ducks and other waterfowl to move in on their own accord.

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Wick Woodland

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Further down there is Wick Woodland – from a distance I saw some splotches of bright pink and could not resist walking towards it until I found the magic spot where one could see the message…

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This segment of the walk ends at White Post Lane, just after a well-graffitied bridge and several giant murals of urban dogs, and we’re entering into Stratford Olympic territory proper…

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The visible change in the landscape says we’re entering Stratford!

Parks of New Barnet and East Barnet: A Walk along Pymmes Brook

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Ah, you there, bucolic stream of silver that trickles through the rolling hills of old…

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Well actually… here we are by the Pymmes Brook, which runs next to a carpark. A big sandy functional carpark, which I have to admit sort of breaks up a walk that one might have along Pymmes Brook, which is a modest brook (a small minor tributary of the River Lea) that is more famous for being troublesome and being the source of floods, rather than for its natural beauty.

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Here is a documentation of a walk through the rolling hills of New Barnet. You might ask, in what way is New Barnet new? Well its just a mile away from the so-called original High Barnet, so named because of the High street being located there, although High Barnet is also supposed to be one of the highest settlements in London itself. This is the approach to New Barnet from Oakleigh Park. Rolling downwards towards the lowlands of Tottenham, as it were.

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An old sign of New Barnet

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Another sign about the history and heritage – fighting the good fight to remain legible before being scratched off with graffiti…

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I love that this sign is in caps. Its like someone unreasonably shouting BROOKSIDE at you.

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Something draws me to this place. It could be the quaint little public toilet in the middle of this scene, next to all the bins stacked higgledy-piggledy together.

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Although this is in an extremely residential and dense area of Barnet, the Pymmes Brook offers some escape…

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You can, for a moment, pretend that you’re in some wooded forest.

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If you follow the river southwards you’ll get to Oak Hill Park.

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No jokes, they’re asking for people to identify graffiti tags here.

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Going further south it enters more endless residential suburbia.

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As I trod noisely along the banks of Pymmes Brook, I alarmed a wee little moorhen. Also known as ‘skitty coot’ because they are the most nervous of waterfowl that churps and twitches its tail nonstop whilst fleeing when it sees huuuumans.

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Naturally, there were balls to be found in Pymmes Brook. It seems that on every single walk I seem to find a lost ball.

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Pymmes Brook leads me into Brunswick Park.

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It is a genuinely lovely park with an expansive field and lots of beautiful grand trees to the right. Pymmes Brook still runs to the left.

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And scenes like this.

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There were many open pathways in this park and it had the ability to make you feel like you were in a huger park than just somewhere in Barnet.

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Problem is that I still wanted to follow Pymmes Brook, but for some reason if you follow Pymmes Brook into Brunswick Park, it just stops with a huge hill in its way. There was no way around this hill it seemed. So… I had to go up this hill.

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After crawling up some muddy hill (also because I am very bad at climbing and ascending slopes) I found myself mysteriously inside a cemetery!!! Was there a better way to go about going from Brunswick Park into the cemetery? I don’t know but I also hadn’t expected that it would be such a vast cemetery.

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Worse still, I could see from the light that it must be getting very late (ie: the sun would set at 4 or 5pm) and in winter most cemeteries don’t open till late! Meaning there was a genuine risk of being locked into this cemetery…

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So I began running for the gates of the cemetery.

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Along the way I saw this curious rock with a flower logo next to it.

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Just a flower symbol. I still don’t know what it is. Any ideas?

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I made it out of the cemetery just in the nick of time but by now it was too late to try to find where Pymmes Brook eemerged on the other end of the Former Great Northern London cemetery.

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So I eventually found my way back to New Southgate Station where I could get straight home from…

The Walk:

Multi-electrification system on Hertford Loop Line: Drayton Park’s electric sizzle

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FCC 313040 @ Drayton Park

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FUN FACTS ABOUT THE HERTS LOOP TRAINS!: An interesting fact is that the Moorgate to Drayton Park segment of the Hertford Loop line is underground and uses third rail DC (750V). Whenever trains stop at Drayton Park from either direction, you’ll always hear an electric sizzle followed by the engine cutting out, and the lights on board the train will black out temporarily, as it being switched to or from overhead AC (250kV). Due to the gradient of the train and timing in which the driver conducts the switch, the electrical switch is usually more apparent when coming down from the North to Moorgate.

Most of the trains I’ve taken have involved only one railway electrification system, a multi-system rail like this usually only occurs where trains cross a boundary, such as a national boundary, where two different countries have implemented different electrification systems.

Lavender Hill Cemetery: what is your likelihood of being crushed by a falling headstone? and what’s happening to the design of baby memorials in the UK today?

Photo documentation of a circular walk around Gordon Hill, Lavender Hill, Strayfields, and Hillyfields

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It appears to me as if travellers on the Herts Loop are the target market for Class B Bricks; I have seen this ad on several of the stops just beyond Zone 4. Class B are those generic red engineering bricks that are most commonly used in Britain – cheaper than Class A,

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Gordon Hill is in Zone 5 which makes it an affordable and quick stop to get to from Harringay. On this walk I decided to hit up a couple cemeteries and do a sort of circular walk around the area.

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You’ll notice that on the side there is a little sign indicating that this cemetery contains Commonwealth War Graves. When I visited it in March I did not really understand what “Commonwealth War Graves” meant, but now after having visited many cemeteries and memorials I can recognise the distinctive standardised headstones.

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Lavender Hill Cemetery Church

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A stately cemetery

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It seems many of the stones in Lavender Hill have been recently subject to a H&S audit…

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“Failed memorial”

Naturally, on seeing this, one might wonder whether this is health and safety completely gone mad – and what are the real risks involved with falling memorials. Is it true that falling headstones pose a credible threat to public health and safety? Or is it unnecessary mass hysteria and the circulation of an urban myth? So I did a little googling and found this: From this britarch discussion post:

SUMMARY OF ACCIDENTS RELATING TO MEMORIALS 1982 – 2003

3 year old boy crushed by gravestone – Fatal (Wear Valley)
2 year old child injured by falling gravestone – non fatal (Sunderland)
2 year old child injured by falling gravestone – non fatal (Preston)
9 year old child crushed by gravestone – fatal (Liverpool)
9 year old child crushed by gravestone – non fatal (Burnley)
4 year old child trapped by falling headstone – non fatal (Westminster)
20 months child, struck by recently erected headstone – non fatal (Plymouth)
3 year old child, trapped by fallen headstone – non fatal (Port Talbot)
44 year old man, trapped by fallen headstone – fatal (Belper)
5 year old child, crushed by memorial – non fatal (Chester)
6 year old child, crushed by falling memorial – fatal (Harrogate)
2ft high memorial in Dukinfield cemetery fell onto a woman’s leg and
took her skin off down to her ankle, then trapped it against a kerb and
broke it in five places – non fatal (25th September 2002)
Young man killed in a Salford Churchyard – fatal (2003)

Also I also remember the case of the freak accident of the 8 year old boy instantly killed by a headstone in Glasgow: BBC: Ciaran Williamson killed ‘instantly’ by falling headstone (2015). However if these represent the statistics of the whole of the UK over 20 years then I say YOUR RISK OF BEING FATALLY CRUSHED UNTIL DEAD BY FALLING HEADSTONE IS INDEED GREATLY EXAGGERATED!

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But, er, I suppose it doesn’t mean you should intentionally lay your head underneath these headstones that have just failed their H&S test.

Although then again, no one can really stop you from doing that. I suppose the weird thing about all of this H&S/compensation culture is that whilst usually an institution or organisation or cemetery in this case may be expected to have a duty of care to the people they employ or interact with, the public don’t really need to have a duty of care towards their own safety…

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There was some dramatic weather…

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As the weather began to turn and I walked further into the cemetery…. I noticed the graves getting more…. decorative?

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I realised this was the baby and young children section of the cemetery.

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What on earth started this trend in which Britain’s bereaved parents design their child’s memorial entirely out of garden ornaments, plastic decorations and children’s toys?

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Although they’re meant to be memorials for babies and young children, I can’t help but feel that there’s also some sort of contest going on when they are laid out side by side; it looks like some wild and crazy amateur garden decorating contest or something occurred here, especially with the little garden fences erected around these plots. “Competitive grieving, on your marks, get set…. Erect the plastic windmills! Pile on the Poundland tinsel! More B&Q solar powered lights and garden ornaments!”

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I’m now really curious to see whether baby memorial designs have also gone all plastic in other countries and regions…

The World’s First Cash Machine and New River Swans: A walk through Enfield Town, World’s End and Cockfosters

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In my years of living in Stamford Hill and Harringay, Enfield has always felt so close because we were right by the stations with direct train services going to Enfield (Abellio Greater Anglia’s Lea Valley Line and Great Northern’s Hertford Loop). And I suppose it is typically still referred to as the “London Borough of Enfield”, even though it is technically Middlesex and it has its own postcode zone (EN). And if one considers the distance, a trip to Enfield honestly is a trip out of London. If Harringay is given a rough estimate of being about 5/6 miles away from Central, then Enfield is a whopping 10/11 miles from Central, depending on what you want to refer to as the centre of London. On the map it looks like this:

So what is there to see in Enfield?

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For one it is the site of the FIRST CASH MACHINE IN THE WORLD! A modest blue plaque stands outside the Barclays Bank in Enfield Town, proclaiming the words “LIVES MADE MUCH EASIER”. As I began writing this some months after having visited Enfield Town on several occasions (the most recent of which was 3 March 2017, to which this post will be dated), I realised that today (27 June 2017, the date that I” writing this post) is coincidentally the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of this machine!

The first cash machine or hole in the wall was opened by comedian Reg Varney (the star of “On the Buses”, which if you’re not familiar with, is truly a show of its time – ultimate 70s bawdy innuendo – and speaking of Enfields, Harry Enfield together with Paul Whitehouse did do a hilarious On the Buses spoof).

All you could have taken out from this cash machine at the time was £10, but according to Bank of England’s Inflation calculator, £10 back in 1967 would have been the equivalent of £166.57 in 2016. Nevertheless it was already supposed to have been a revolution at the time – getting cash out from the bank on the weekend? Oh my! How things have changed in 50 years; here we are in 2017 and the bank I use has just closed every single branch that I’ve ever used within London!.

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This is the same New River which flows from up in Hertfordshire, past our house in Green Lanes, and all the way down to the Woodberry Wetlands in Stoke Newington. Neither actually a River nor “new”, this is an artificial waterway dating from 1613 which supplies London with fresh drinking water from the River Lea.

In 1823 in his Essays of Elia, Charles Lamb raged and railed against the New River after apparently witnessing a dear friend nearly drowning in the New River, which he apparently felt as a swan-less spirit-less man-made tributary was not worthy of claiming the lives of poets:

Waters of Sir Hugh Middleton—what a spark you were like to have extinguished for ever! Your salubrious streams to this City, for now near two centuries, would hardly have atoned for what you were in a moment washing away. Mockery of a river — liquid artifice — wretched conduit! henceforth rank with canals, and sluggish aqueducts. Was it for this, that, smit in boyhood with the explorations of that Abyssinian traveller, I paced the vales of Amwell to explore your tributary springs, to trace your salutary waters sparkling through green Hertfordshire, and cultured Enfield parks?—Ye have no swans—no Naiads—no river God—or did the benevolent hoary aspect of my friend tempt ye to suck him in, that ye also might have the tutelary genius of your waters?

Oh if Charles Lamb were still alive to see the New River now… it is teeming with swans!

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Swans!

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SWANNNS!!

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And also loads of Canadian Geese.

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Enfield’s Millennium Fountain

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New River Loop…

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I walked around the New River and by the banks there were these lovely plants…

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Which insisted on taking a ride on my hand.

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I probably need to write a post entirely dedicated to lost balls.

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I walked westwards towards a place called “World’s End”. If you’ve been around London/UK you’ll often see the term “World’s End” which basically refers to anything which people melodramatically feel is so far away its basically at the end, or the boundary of their world. (or church parish)

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Indeed there are some vast fields which really feel like you’re in the countryside.

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On google maps it is hard to tell sometimes if a field or green area can be crossed. That is if one takes the assumption that all green areas can be crossed by pedestrians, but this is not true. For the most part, if a green area is not publicly named, then it is probably not land in which the public has right of way. Which is unfortunate because sometimes you just want to walk from one place to another in a straight line and there’s a temptingly open field in the way!

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World’s End consists of private land with significant amounts of barbed wire so don’t be as foolish as me as to make an extended excursion around the perimeter of what looks like grassland when none of it can actually be entered/crossed.

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By this point I had already walked so much that I thought I may as well head on to Cockfosters via the A110, a thoroughly bleak highway with little to no pedestrians on it on a winter’s day.

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There was some distant neighing.

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Eventually the road converged back into civilisation.

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I did finally reach Cockfosters and its distinctively designed station, designed by Charles Holden and built in 1933.

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The Walk:

 

[I’m still backdating this post to 3 March 2017, which is when I took the pictures…]