Pole Hill, Yardley Hill, Gilwell Park, Barn Hill to Enfield

With London wrapped in tragedy I needed to get to high ground, it’s a primal urge, safety, perspective. I remembered the walk of 3 years ago, I now realise on the same date – 18th June – an accidental derive over hills and down to Sewardstone for sunset. This time it was deliberate.

The walk down from Woodford was the pre-amble, a loosening that threw in an unexplored corner of the forest near the Warren Pond. Then along Chingford High Street, clocks forever set 30 years behind the rest of London it seems. No chips from Sam’s this time – straight up the side of the Kings Head to the top of Pole Hill – a marker of time, the centre of the world.

Path to Pole Hill Chingford

Path to Pole Hill Chingford

The fields sloping down the spine of Pole Hill were as beautiful in the evening light as I remembered them. A couple had pitched a tent beneath the trees and were sat eating dinner. The views from the top of Yardley Hill were stunning and difficult to wrench away from. The City skyline dwarfed by foregroud trees of Hawk Wood, the enclosure in the forest of pre-Roman times. I could imagine the great Forest of Kent stretching from the south shore of the Thames down to the sea.

Along Sewardstone Green, somehow deep with mud then up and over the final hill with fingers of god breaking out through sagging clouds onto Brimsdown.

footpath to Barn Hill Sewardstone

footpath to Barn Hill Sewardstone

Crossing the Lea Valley at Sewardstone I bisect the walk just before the winter solstice, setting out in pre-dawn from Leytonstone to Hertford, at this point stalked by horses. I give a nod to my winter self and push on along the sunset river banks for Enfield.



  1. Duncan Abbot   •  

    We did a version of this trail a few weeks ago. You have made me go back and look at the OS map as I never know the names of the individual features/areas we are going through like the Hawk Wood and Barn Hill.

    We were in the woods at what I now know, thanks to you, as Barn Hill, a month or so ago and it was full of wild garlic. The floor was white with little flowers and the air rich with that pungent aroma of garlic. I had seen woods full of blue bells a few weeks earlier but never wild garlic on this scale.

    The views beyond Barn Hill up into Hertfordshire are stunning.

    Btw, you are bang on about Chingford: is Mr Macmillan still in Downing Street?

    Thanks for sharing.

    • JohnR   •     Author

      Thanks for sharing that Duncan. I reckon a good walk would be to go beyond Barn Hill and link in with Fernhills, Lippitts Hill, Hangman’s Hill and through High Beach

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