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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

London Loop: Day 13: Enfield Lock to Chigwell

The Small Arms Factory
The Small Arms Factory, where Lee Enfield rifles used to be made

Here's a tip. If you're planning to walk this section of the Loop on a nice sunny day, like I did, then make sure you pack a peaked cap or wide-brimmed hat. I didn't bother because I thought the September sun wouldn't be strong enough to warrant protection from ultraviolet, and as a result I spent most of the walk squinting. This is where the Loop turns south on its journey back to the Thames, and that means you're walking right into the sun. Shades won't be enough; bring a hat, or it'll drive you nuts.

The Lea Valley

King George's reservoir
Looking over King George's reservoir

The walk starts off by joining the poor, choked Turkey Brook once again; it's a sad start, seeing your walking companion from day 12 suffering from too much rubbish and too little attention, but things soon improve as the Turkey flows into the Lee1 Navigation and the Loop reaches the edge of Enfield. Enfield Lock itself is a fairly forgettable canal lock that's sandwiched between a tacky looking pub and a housing estate, but that doesn't stop this area having an interesting history. In the distance, across the car park, lies a converted factory that might not look that special these days, but back in 1859 this building was named the Small Arms Factory, and it churned out a revolutionary new rifle that would be the backbone of the British Army through the Boer War and both World Wars. The rifle was, of course, the Lee Enfield.

Back into the 'Burbs

The Royal Forest Hotel (left) and Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge (right)
The Royal Forest Hotel (left) and Queen Elizabeth's Hunting Lodge (right)

Of course, the walk through Hawk Wood ends all too abruptly, coming out at a road that you don't realise is there until a car zooms past, right under your nose. For the rest of the day suburbia is never very far away, and the road section into Chingford is only marginally improved by following the bridleway that runs parallel to the road, just inside the edge of the wood. However Chingford Plain is open and breezy, and after a dog-leg around the golf course's cafeteria (called, groaningly, the Tee Shop) there's a rewarding bunch of buildings to look at.

The back garden of the Kings Head
The flamboyant back garden of the Kings Head

1 According to the Ordnance Survey, the River Lee is also known as the River Lea. However, everyone seems to call this part of the river the Lee Navigation, while the valley is more often called the Lea Valley. Go figure.