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Saturday 17th July 2010
Epping to Ongar
(10.35 miles)

 Saturday 17th July was a warm dry day, but often overcast in Essex. Conditions were good for walking, but not so good for photography. It was on this day that I set myself a new personal record by walking 10.35 miles, and burning off 1590 calories while doing so. I don't know who it was that said that Essex was flat, but they were lying. My walk from Epping station to Ongar station involved some rather steep hills - particularly around the Epping portion of the walk. Epping station seems to be at the bottom of a steep sided pit !
route of my walk
This is the route I took to walk from Epping station to Ongar station. The green dot marks the beginning, and the red dot the end. The blue dots are where I stopped for a few minutes to take photos at North Weald station, and at Toot Hill to watch some aircraft. The odd spike about a third of the way between Toot Hill and Ongar is where I made a small diversion to see Blake Hall station building.
Country end of Epping station looking towards London
This view, taken from a road bridge, is looking towards London with Epping tube station in the distance. The previous time I visited Epping station, possibly as long ago as 1994, trains could freely move towards where I took this picture. The track on the left is the line to Ongar, and that on the right is just a reversing siding. Now there are stop lamps at the platforms end, and most of the track in this view is now effectively disused. That could be very handy for the Epping Ongar Railway who, sometime in the future, want to run trains from Ongar into Epping, but will not apparently be allowed to actually run into the existing Epping station.
railway tracks towards Ongar at Epping
This is the view from the other side of the road bridge with the left hand track disappearing into the undergrowth, and the right hand track heading towards Ongar.
North Weald station undergoing refurbishment 17th July 2010
After climbing quite steeply to get out of Epping, and then walking for at least 4 miles, I reached North Weald station. It is undergoing heavy refurbishment to restore it back from a London Underground station to a small country station on a branch line of the London & North Eastern Railway which is what it once was.
new footbridge for North Weald station 17th July 2010
When North Weald station was last operated by London Undergound only one platform was in use, but there was a second disused platform linked to the first by a concrete footbridge. That footbridge eventually started to suffer from "concrete cancer" and became unsafe. The Epping Ongar Railway procured a new steel lattice footbridge from somwhere that matches the style of other footbridges used on the LNER, and will erect it some time in the future. Meanwhile it is "parked" on the station forecourt.
Lancaster bomber over Toothill 17th July 2010
North Weald is home to the famous WW2 airfield of the same name. I presume there was some event taking place there because I saw several historic aircraft flying around, and this Lancaster bomber made a quite low pass over me while I was walking from North Weald station to Toot Hill.
Blake Hall station as a private house 17th July 2010
The next station along the line is, or was, Blake Hall station. London Underground closed the station in 1981, and the station building was sold for use as a private residence. The railway line still passes on the far side of the house, but the platform has been removed.
Gatekeeper Butterfly
During my walk I saw many butterflies flittering around. In one particular spot there were "hundreds" of them, and one obliged me by sitting still long enough for me to take this photograph.
(27th July 2010: Finally identified this butterfly as a Gatekeeper Butterfly)
Orange cellphone tower
I don't know why I took this photo (and the inset one) of a cellular radio mast - probably because it was there !
Entering Ongar road sign
After much walking, and with aching feet, I finally reached the outskirts of Ongar. Unfortunately it was uphill from here to the Four Wantz roundabout where I would turn off to go back down to Ongar station. Going up that hill was the first time that I could really feel my legs getting tired. On previous walks it has always been my feet that have suffered most. At the top of the hill my thigh muscles were starting to feel really stiff.
Track panel with shunter in the background - Ongar station 17th July 2010
Finally I found Ongar station. On display outside the main station area is this short length of track, and inside the station, at the very end of the line is a Ruston shunting engine and various items of rolling stock behind it.
Tardis at Ongar station - 17th July 2010
It seems that Ongar station has it's very own Tardis. It is part of a collection of stuff owned by the man who lives in part of the station building.
Ongar station entrance 17th July 2010
 Finally the main station entrance. Ongar station is being refurbished as a Great Eastern Railway station who were it's owners/operators before it became part of the London Underground. Prior to The Great Eastern Railway it was owned/operated as part of the London & North Eastern Railway (as North Weald station is now being refurbished as).

 Having walked for 10.35 miles, and reached my objective, I really wanted a pint of cool beer to help rehydrate myself, but as I started walking to the pub I saw a bus coming that would take me back to Epping station. Knowing how infrequently those buses ran I abandoned the idea of a pint and paid my 2 for a ride back to Epping. It was certainly a lot easier than trying to walk back (which I don't think I was capable of).
Ticket from Ongar to Epping
    page written Sunday 18th July 2010