|Saturday 17th July 2010
Epping to Ongar
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
know why I took this photo (and the inset one) of a cellular radio mast
- probably because it was there !
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.
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
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
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).