Day 7: Section 16

Today we walked from Elstree to Cockfosters (10 miles / 16km). Although there was a fair amount of road walking there was only one stretch where the noise of traffic really impinged, limiting conversation. We passed first through Scratch Wood, ancient woodland nestled between two very major roads – the M1 and the A1. The sound of traffic is ever present, but muted by the trees and birdsong.

This very pretty flower was next to a busy road. It’s salsify or goatsbeard.
We are still encountering many fallen trees on our walks. This one was entirely blocking the path. The storms of February and March caused a lot of damage to woodland, and I suppose less busy areas are not on the list of priorities for the stewards of the land.
Ancient woods – here since the last Ice Age, which ended approximately 11,500 years ago!
Stitchwort or Stellaria holostea
Gathering some wild garlic – by the end of the day everything in my bag smelled of garlic 😂

After enduring 1km of walking along the A1 we entered Moat Mount Open Space. This is the site of the Battle of Barnet of 1471 during the Wars of the Roses. It is now woods, meadows and farmland.

The source of Dollis Brook is also within this area, and we followed a stretch of the Brook, and the Dollis Valley Greenwalk, before heading off on the Loop walk at Barnet Lane. Dollis Brook continues through Totteridge, Whetstone and Finchley to finally join with the river Brent at Hendon. The Brook (which we always called ‘the stream’) played a large part in my childhood as we used to live close by. It was the scene of a dramatic near drowning of my youngest sister (at least that’s how it felt at the time!), after some heavy rain. She fell in and was rescued by me and my other sister, losing her wellies in the process. (Those were the days when small children went running around unsupervised!)

The next section took us through Monken Hadley, and Hadley Woods. It is really pretty in this area, and there are some huge houses.

Just one of many enormous mansions in this area.
Almshouses founded in 1612
Livingstone Cottage, where the explorer Dr Livingstone lived in the 1850’s.
Beech Hill Lake, a man made lake created in 1880 by local landowner Charles Jack in the grounds of his home. It is known as Jacks Lake now.

The whole of this area was once part of a great hunting forest with 3000 deer, where Queen Elizabeth I and others hunted. It is now a very pleasant place to walk, and get away from the traffic nearby. There were lots of families enjoying the spring sunshine in the woods and open spaces.

I do love it in the woods! As we walked we talked about the scientifically proven benefits for mental and physical health of being surrounded by trees. Read more by clicking here.

Finally we arrived in Cockfosters, and found a cafe for cake and coffee. The journey back was straightforward – Piccadilly line all the way to Ealing, and then a short bus ride back home.

And then: some delicious wild garlic pesto with pasta for dinner!

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