Easter weather has been a bit of a uninviting one for my type of photography. Luckily we had a spell of sunshine on Friday 6th so I took my chance to complete my investigation along the river Roding. I started where I left it in Barking by the Highbridge Road (smallest bridge in the area) Since my last visit it seems that the East bank of the river has been visited by the contractors and work is under way. Most of my walk will take place on the West bank of the river. You start the walk by going through the Tesco car park. What first strikes me is the pollution. People dump trolley, plastics and so forth - sad. You cross the A124 and the walk becomes pleasant. Mix of 60's building on the right and industrial warehouses on the left. An actual path takes you along the bending stream. Glorious vegetation, strolling swans and gentle breeze put you in a good mood, until you reach the "official" end of the path. You then have to venture in the unknown going under the low train track.
There another world unveils. One of wild bushes where the path is hard to find. An uninspiring landscape filled with rubbish, stuck between a grim and poisonous Northern Circular and an unaccessible river punctuated by fly-tippings. You constantly have to watch out where you are walking to avoid nasty surprises. Some homeless people have built shelters in what you can only describe as slum. And this goes on until you reach Ilford and Romford Road. Quite depressing really. But I keep on walking despite the misery and try to find a way to follow the river. The actual banks are closed to the public and toxic anyway so I try my luck (silly me!) by walking along the NC on the other side of the junction hoping to find some kind of hidden path that would take me to the Aldersbrook part but I walk there in vain. There is no access whatsoever and I have to come back to the Ilford junction.
If you wish to do that walk bare in mind that this section requires a detour. You have to walk on Romford Road Westbound for about 5 min and take a path just before the Bell Pharmacy to enter a small residential estate and reach Aldersbrook Lane. You will find a couple of signs Roding Valley Way (see pic below) Turn right down in an underpass filled with graffitis. Then again, you enter a different world. One which is green, calm and poetic. You have to walk a bit more until to merge with the river. On your left sits the City of London Cemetery which is vast and beautiful. On your right allotments and behind it the stream and the Ilford golf course.
There is a hidden path that takes you to the river by the golf course. There you understand that the only way to walk by the river from the Ilford junction is actually to be a golf member. Once again the Roding has become a private property. Anyway, at the intersection mentioned above you can follow the river by taking a trail. You then enter the further South/East tip of the Epping forest designated area. The landscape becomes open, lush and healthy. The flow of the water is very pronounced especially at this time of the year. You keep walking North and take a small hidden sheltered path. Everything is peaceful there. You then reach a small pedestrian bridge, walk over it and follow the East side of Wanstead Park.
The section described before and this new one are familiar territories to me. As a runner I enjoy the beauty and peace of those trails. Nothing really occurs there until you reach another fence with no further access by the end of Royston gardens. You have to make you way to the Redbridge Roundabout. To conclude this journey turn left towards Wanstead on the A12 and there on your left you will meet for the last time the Roding river. This area is again private. The left side belongs to Thames Water and the right hand side belongs to the Wanstead Gold Club.
Epilogue: The Roding carries on towards Chigwell and offers many tranquil and beautiful vistas. Even if most of this later part is still connected to Northern Circular and later M11 you can actually detach yourself from the constant buzz. That said your walk will end by the Ashton Playing Fields as the trail is then blocked by a dense bushy area. The Roding source is to be found all the way up by Stanted Airport.