This walk follows the course of the Cran Brook through the streets of Ilford in East London to its source near Barkingside.
This was a walk suggested by Vincent Goodman who emailed me after watching my video of a walk along the Loughton Brook. We had a great chat on the phone and Vincent sent me a map he’d made of the course of the Cran Brook and photos of its source near Barkingside Station, and the point where the brook makes its confluence with the River Roding.
The video starts on Wanstead Flats, my approach to the confluence of the Cran Brook and the Roding where my walk would start. We pass through Aldersrbook, a model Edwardian suburb that is seen as a great example of the vernacular revival. Down Empress Avenue we look for the site of the Redbridge Nuclear Shelter near Empress Avenue Allotments. These allotments were used as a location in the Mike Leigh film Another Year. The path takes us around the outer perimeter of the Wanstead Park, through the Epping Forest Exchange Lands and near the site of an isolation hospital.
Beneath the shadow of the pylons is the River Roding and we progress into the streets of Cranbrook. The Cran Brook makes its confluence with the Roding on Ilford Golf Course which I was unable to access, but the course through the streets here is marked on the map in the video. The name, Cranbrook has its earliest use in 1233 as Cranebroc. We follow the Brook along Empress Avenue, Ilford, through an area called The Wash and into Valentines Park. Vincent told me this was the location of the Wash Lodge where travelers would pay a fee to the Wash Lodge Keeper to wash their horse and carriage before continuing their journey.
Valentines Park was featured in an episode of the radio show I produced and co-presented with Nick Papadimitriou on Resonance FM, Ventures and Adventures in Topography. It’s one of my favourite London parks. Author Thomas Burke described it as ‘The Eastern Queen’ in his 1920’s book, The Outer Circle – rambles in remote London. The Valentines Estate had existed before Valentines Mansion was built in the 1690’s for the widow of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Park once had a Lido which was demolished in 1994 and it is said to be the inspiration for the Small Faces song Itchycoo Park. Roman era burials were excavated in the grounds of the house in 1724. The Cran Brook can be seen flowing through the Park into the boating lake.
From Valentines Park we walk along Quebec Road, then go along the A12 Eastern Avenue and turn into Horns Road. We can see the shape of the river valley from Netley Road, Birkbeck Road and Perkins Road where the river runs beneath the Sainsburys Car Park. We follow the alleyway that takes us over the Central Line behind Newbury Park Station and into Oaks Lane. From Oaks Lane we go into a field that leads us to where the springs gurgle to the surface giving birth to the brook not far from Barkingside Station.
Many thanks to Vincent Goodman for sending me a map showing the course of the Cran Brook and for suggesting this walk.
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