Walking home.

14 December 2019 – Epping Forest.

Standing in the kitchen at the flat in St Leonards, I am cooking my new favourite quick comfort food; chorizo and white bean stew, looking at the photos I took almost a month ago in the forest and wondering how and where to start writing. Wondering if I should start writing at all. The photos were not inspired and I am not feeling them or any of the words needed to describe the walk. Perhaps it was too long ago and the joy felt while walking has left me. Perhaps it is dry January. Perhaps I am just bored with it all; the photography, writing and blogging.

I have been trying to find some photographic direction, trying a few different things and been found wanting each time. Maybe I should take a break from photography and writing for a while; maybe I will finish these last few posts and call it quits. The blog lasted longer than I expected and I am not exactly using it for anything more than recording my activities, which have long shifted from the original purpose of the blog; travel. It is not like many would miss me. Enough whining.

Let’s get this done, and see what tomorrow brings.

Soon after my list visit to the forest in November, when El and I walked and took loads of photos of the range of weird and wonderful mushrooms, I bought a second hand Canon 5d Mk2 body to replace the Mk1 I broke in May. I had yet to use the camera for anything more than a couple of test shots so today was its first outing. The main reason for going out was to walk, not take photos, so I didn’t take a tripod. This decision  was partly responsible for the dissatisfaction with the photographic output.

I caught the train to Chingford, and walked home, mostly via a variety of forest paths. It was a glorious day for walking; bright sun, not too cold and not too hot, but a bit of a breeze. Not a good day for photos in a forest. I had a few photographic ideas I wanted to play with, but the conditions and location were not really right for them, possibly contributing to the malaise I feel right now.

I started off on Chingford Plain, walking up to the lodge where I stopped for coffee and cake; carb loading before the walk home.

Warren Pond has some lovely old trees, cleared of undergrowth and saplings, it is a nice open area to start a walk, though the light was incredibly harsh. Too harsh even for some high-key photography which I was hoping to experiment with again, not having played with the technique for quite some time. The trees make up for anything lacking in my ability to take photos of them.

There was smatterings of colour other than green in the trees on the way down to Whitehall Plain. There has been a lot of rain lately and the ground was wet, muddy and occasionally slippery underfoot. I am glad I wore my old trail running shoes with good grip.

Crossing over Whitehall Rd I picked up the River Ching. When I walked through here in summer it was so dry it was non-existent in parts, bone dry. I have never seen it this high in the six or so years I have been walking or riding this strip of forest. Admittedly this has not been a lot lately.

There was even a tiny waterfall and I could hear the water moving, that is unusual!

This section of the walk home passes by the edge of Woodford Golf Club, normally I steer clear and stay under the trees along the side of the river, but today there was no-one on the course. I walked up one of the fairways and took my favourite photo from the walk.

Crossing over Chingford Lane, I entered the section of forest that contains Highams Park Lake. Most of the walk from Chingford is under tree cover, until I get to Forest Rd, which unsurprisingly is not in the forest, it is lined on both sides by houses. The council, or Epping Forest, have put up a load of signs, presumably to make walking to and in the forest less challenging. Not that it is challenging at all; if you don’t mind getting a little misplaced on occasion.

One of my favourite trees is in the part of the forest and today I was fortunate to find a squirrel in it, though the squirrel did not pose for long.

I was really surprised at how few people were out walking round the lake, normally this place is quite busy, maybe everyone is out Christmas shopping? I was not complaining as I walk for the solitude, and the forest is one of very few places I am not playing music through headphones. The lake was looking good under this, almost, clear blue sky.

Crossing over Charter Rd, and then Oak Hill I enter Walthamstow Forest and the last section under the trees before the last mile of road walking home. I like this section of woodland, but have yet to fully explore it. It is not big, but it is on the way to somewhere else, so I only ever pass through. I promised that when it next snows I will come here with the camera and take some photos, before going up to the main forest.

The path crossing over the A406, the dreaded North Circular, though it was flowing nicely today.

Just over the bridge is a narrow strip of trees separating the houses on Beacontree Ave from the motorway, and that is where the tree covered, reasonably quiet and sheltered from the wind walk finishes. The rest is just a downhill schlep along Forest Rd to home. Passing the lovely Peoples Republic of Waltham Forest town hall building.