Walk from Wanstead Flats to Gants Hill

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The desire was to walk but I had no idea where. In that situation you let yourself be guided by your feet which often tend to often fall into familiar tracks. So I found myself walking up the avenue across Wanstead Flats, round the Heronry then Perch ponds of Wanstead Park and over the North Circular to Cranbrook. Through Valentines Park and into a Harvester on Beehive Lane in Gants Hill. The feet chose well.

(Wanstead Flats and Park are covered in Chapter 10 of This Other London)

Wantead Flats midsummer

I was in the Weatherspoon’s on Leytonstone High Road last night and read a framed nugget of local history about the Royal Hunting Lodge that sat opposite Davies Lane and the residence of Nell Gwynne, The Cedars that was on the corner of Ferndale Road. Apparently there was an underground passage that linked the two so Charles II could slip across to his mistress unnoticed, although I can’t imagine there were many people around that end of Leytonstone in the C17th who could have spotted him.

So this evening I went out looking for traces. I didn’t really look very hard to be honest and ended up carrying on down Davies Lane and across Wanstead Flats.

 The gorse really catches the setting sun – it’s worth coming over just to see it.

There was a slightly forlorn fair parked up between ditches, a few people drifting through getting their pockets emptied.

The War on Wanstead Flats

I was taking the kids for a walk over Wanstead Flats last Sunday to look at the remains of the anti-aircraft gun emplacement when we stumbled on this rusty old metal box poking through the grass.

The boys got excited thinking it was an arms stash – I’d just been telling them about the ‘stay-behind’ brigades which had excited their imaginations.

They were unimpressed by the concrete platform now overgrown with trees – I think they expected to find a rusty old canon. So I took them on to look at the barrage balloon posts again.

But my youngest got distracted by this tree that he thought could make a decent home if you ever needed to hide out in the park.

There’s a great article from the Wanstead Parklands Community Project about the wartime activity in the area.