Monday, 28 September 2015

Waltham Abbey,Enfield Circular Walk 28th September 2015

My dog Ben and I left home on 28th September 2015 and arrived at Gunpowder Park in the Lea Valley and parked up in the Free car park there. I got out and started down a footpath through the park.Formerly part of the Royal Gunpowder Mills  ,they tested munitions here, and visits were not recommended! But today Gunpowder Park has been transformed into an exciting country park where people, wildlife and the arts coexist in a rather more peaceful environment.

Banks ,evidence of this parks explosive past.
I crossed the first bridge I came to, and walked alongside the tributary from The Lea next to some new built houses. There were two more bridges further up and I could of stayed in the park had I known.
It was still pleasant enough this side with waterfowl and herons to see.






At the end of the houses I turn right and follow a footpath that was still very wet, at least the new shoes were keeping my feet dry.

This footpath stops abruptly and I am thrown out onto a busy A121 road, I thought I may have been able to walk all the way to Waltham Abbey without any road walking but I was wrong.

I crossed a river before going under the M25. Not the best part of the walk by any means a very busy and noisy stretch of road.


I now reach the B194 where there is a small retail park. I stop for a McDonalds breakfast as I hadn't eaten yet this morning.
I then cross the road  and walk down Beaulieu Drive to visit the Royal Gunpowder Mills. The Royal Gunpowder Mills is a great place for families to spend days out exploring the secret history of gunpowder, explosives and rocket propellants through  engaging interactive Exhibitions, Science Shows and Children's Activities.
The Royal Gunpowder Mills was one of three Royal Gunpowder Mills in the UK, the other mills were at Ballincollig and Faversham, but is the only site to have survived virtually intact.
The  Mills  were in operation for over 300 years; however, from the mid-1850s onwards the site was involved in developing new nitro-based explosives and propellants. The site grew in size, and gunpowder became less important. Shortly after World War II it became solely a Defence Research Establishment - firstly the Explosives Research and Development Establishment, then the Propellants, Explosives and Rocket Motor Establishment Waltham Abbey; and finally the Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment Waltham Abbey. Its superior production methods and high quality results earned it a reputation on an international level.

Having walked a long way down, I find it is closed today and dogs aren't allowed anyway and there really wasnt much to see from the outside. So I walked the long way back up as there were no other way to get across the River Lea as I was hoping.
Back out on the B194 I turn left and head up towards Waltham Abbey.

Waltham Abbey takes its name from the Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross, a scheduled ancient monument that was prominent in the town's early history. The town is within the large civil parish of Waltham Abbey which was known as Waltham Holy Cross until 1974. The parish has a town council and is twinned with the German town of Hörstel.

The name Waltham derives from weald or wald "forest" and ham "homestead" or "enclosure". The name of the ancient parish was Waltham Holy Cross, but the use of the name Waltham Abbey for the town seems to have originated in the 16th century, although there has often been inconsistency in the use of the two names. Indeed, the former urban district was named Waltham Holy Cross, rather than Waltham Abbey.


I arrive at The Abbey and go inside for a look about. Outside was parked a lovely old American pick-up truck.





The Abbey Church of Waltham Holy Cross and St Lawrence is the parish church of the town of Waltham Abbey, Essex in England. It has been a place of worship since the 7th century. The present building dates mainly from the early 12th century and is an example of Norman architecture. To the east of the existing church are traces of an enormous eastward enlargement of the building, begun following the re-foundation of the abbey in 1177. In the late middle ages, Waltham was one of the largest church buildings in England and a major site of pilgrimage; in 1540 was the last religious community to be closed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It is still an active parish church for the town.









This alabaster figure is all that remains of the tomb of Lady Elizabeth Greville. The tomb, which resembles a four poster bed was destroyed in the 18th Century t make room for a gallery, which now no longer exists.

Lady Elizabeth was the daughter of Sir John Grey, son of the Marques of Dorset and brother of Henry Duke of Suffolk (the father of Lady Jane Grey who was known as the Nine Day Queen). Elizabeth as first married (his second wife) to Henry Denny, the elder son of Sir Anthony Denny, Lord of the Manor of Waltham (Henry's brother was Sir Edward Denny). Henry and Elizabeth had one son, who was also named Henry who died without issue and two daughters who died in infancy.

After her first husband's death in 1574, she married Sir Edward Greville of Harold's Park, Nazing (son of Sir Faulk Greville of Warwickshire) whom she bore three sons and eight daughters.




The Smith Tomb, Waltham Abbey Church

This tomb is constructed from black and white marble and alabaster. It commemorates and marks the burial place of Robert Smith.

Robert Smith was a former captain of a merchant ship and he travelled all around the world. He was born at Banbury, Oxfordshire in 1637 and died aged 60 in March 1697.





I left and took a walk around the church grounds and to King Harold II Grave Site.

As if being the last English king to have his country successfully invaded was not bad enough, Harold Godwinson's undoubted bravery and political manoeuvring did not guarantee a respectful burial.
His death in 1066 fighting William the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings - either by an arrow in the eye, the swords of cavalry, or possibly both - apparently left the body so mangled only his common-law wife, the ornithologically named Edith Swannesha (Swan-Neck), could identify the remains.
Rosemary Nicolaou, from Battle Abbey museum, said what happened next is confused: "We are told Harold's mother offered William a sum of gold equal to the weight of the body but William refused. He ordered it to be buried in secret to stop it becoming a shrine.
"After that we just don't know. There are various stories including his mother finally getting the body or it being taken by monks to Waltham Abbey, but nothing has been proved".

I now take a walk round the town centre.


This picture was taken as proof, I couldn't believe the Green Dragon were selling IPA Bitter at £1.50 a pint!!

I now walk back and take a walk through the Abbey Gardens.There is free parking for 100 cars here too!




A bloomery is a type of furnace once widely used for smelting iron from its oxides. The bloomery was the earliest form of smelter capable of smelting iron. A bloomery's product is a porous mass of iron and slag called a bloom. This mix of slag and iron in the bloom is termed sponge iron, which is usually consolidated (shingled) and further forged into wrought iron. The bloomery has now largely been superseded by the blast furnace, which produces pig iron.




I now leave the grounds via The Abbey Gateway.
A late 14th century gatehouse and nearby medieval bridge remain of the great abbey founded by the Saxon King Harold. The gateway was built in 1369 and formed the main entrance to the abbey precinct.
The builders used a mix of stone and bricks and made a large central gateway for horses and carts, and a smaller doorway for pedestrians. The gateway was topped with turrets on both sides and might have had an upper storey, but no trace of this now remains. Immediately to the south of the gateway is a wall made with medieval Essex bricks, made locally, and among the best examples of early medieval bricks in England.

I now follow the Cornmill Stream and under the B194 and out into Lea Valley Country Park.
The Cornmill Stream is a minor tributary of the River Lea,.The stream is an artificial watercourse which may have been built by 1086 to serve the mills mentioned in the Domesday Book at Waltham Abbey.





Going under the B194




I follow the Cornmill Stream for a way through the park before crossing it via  a bridge and out into Cornmill Meadows.

This site near Waltham Abbey in the Lee Valley Park is a haven for dragonflies and other wildlife.
Cornmill Meadows is one of the best examples of semi-natural floodplain grassland remaining in the park. The mosaic of rivers, ditches and pools make this a fantastic place to see a variety of wildlife throughout the year. Hay meadows, woodland and a network of glades and rides can be found in the adjacent tree park.

I now follow The River Lea again and on the other side I can see The Royal Gunpowder Mills site again.



A Bird Hide in the park




I am now back out onto the B194 again and I walk back up to where I came at the junction with the Retail Park. I choose to cross the bridge and head down onto The River Lea Navigation.
I stop to chat to some fisherman who were fishing for Pike before walking on.


The Lee Navigation is a canalised river incorporating the River Lea (also called the River Lee). It runs from Hertford Castle Weir to the River Thames at Bow Creek; its first lock is Hertford Lock and its last Bow Locks.
The river Lee (or Lea) runs from the Thames to Hertford, with a branch along the Stort Navigation. Unlike the other canals in London it was not constructed in one primary phase of building, and also unlike the other canals it is a canalised river, not an entirely new canal. Navigation took place in the first millennium, with the Vikings apparently taking the opportunity to plunder the unfortunate people of Hertford. Work on improving the river's navigability is recorded as early as the fourteenth century and in 1425 there was an Act of Parliament to provide for further improvements. The River lea Commissioners, who used to run it, date back to this period. As was so often the case, where rivers were improved for navigation, there were arguments between barge owners and mill owners who preferred the available water to be used to mills rather than locks. The navigation was much used for carrying grain for beer and bread making and those who might lose their livelihoods from the lower prices that became possible as a result of cheaper transport also objected to improvements. Disputes over the right of navigation reached the Star Chamber, a superior court of justice, in 1594, which ruled in favour of the boats.
The canal era was marked by the passage of the River Lea Act 1766 which authorised much more extensive improvement works and the construction of locks, new sections, and the Limehouse Cut, a connecting canal at the southern end. The locks were, of course, single gate locks which relied on a build-up of water and its sudden release to enable boats to pass. The type of lock we know today is a pound lock, with gates at each end, which is far less wasteful of water. Pound locks were introduced to the river Lea in 1771.
There were substantial improvements in the nineteenth century with a further act being passed in 1850 to authorise new sections and locks. The Lea Conservancy Act 1868 placed the navigation in the hands of a new conservancy board. The twentieth century also saw great improvements, with a major scheme being started in 1922 to enlarge and rebuild locks to enable larger vessels to use the navigation. There was further work carried out in the 1930's to provide for flood relief. On nationalisation of the canal system, the navigation passed to the British Transport Commission and later British Waterways















A cormorant


I walked on as far as Enfield Lock where I crossed a bridge over into Enfield Island Village.



Enfield Island Village is a modern housing estate in the London Borough of Enfield, north London. Before April 1994, Enfield Island Village formed part of the Epping Forest district of Essex, but it was transferred to the borough of Enfield in Greater London when the housing development was created.
Enfield Island Village was built on land previously occupied by the Royal Small Arms Factory. It is close to the borders of Essex and Hertfordshire, and is adjacent to the River Lee Navigation, River Lea, Cattlegate Flood Relief Channel, and Newmans Weir, as well as open countryside, including Epping Forest.
 The site was decommissioned by the MOD in 1984 and was sold to British Aerospace (BAe). BAe together with Trafalgar House launched a joint venture company – Lee Valley Developments (LVD). In 1996, the land was sold to Fairview Homes, the housing wing of Hillsdown Holdings.

I walk along Manton Road before turning into Blancahrd Grove where I can cross The River Lea and back into Gunpowder park.





I eventually arrive back at the car after 8 miles of walking in glorious sunshine!
The drive home wasn't as straight forward after leaving Gunpowder park, I took a long turn meaning me getting lost and ended up miles away and driving down a one way street the wrong way. Stress after a beautiful day too!