42 – Short Fairlop Waters loop 2.6 miles – 4th December

In short: a brief Sunday morning stroll as no opportunity for anything longer this week. An amazing East London beauty spot. Well surfaced paths, a beautifully positioned cafe. 1 hr walking + 20 mins pitstop.

Sunday morning dawns bright and clear and one of my sons is playing football against Barkingside – the venue is Ilford Wanderers FC and I recognise the location as being very close to Fairlop Waters, a lovely beauty spot I discovered earlier in the year.

I have a week ahead of me which won’t allow for a longer walk so I decide to grab this opportunity for a brief stroll. I park at the Football Club – on a track just off Forest Road, postcode IG6 3HJ. After waving a fond farewell to my 16 year old – with a promise to return for the game – I head back along the track to the main road.

Turning right at Forest Road I walk back past a small gym and industrial estate, then an open field with playing fields beyond, towards the entrance to Fairlop Waters country park on my left. Crossing at the traffic island just in front of the entrance I go in and briefly follow the access road. I take the first path on the left and head towards the lake in front of me.

Wow – this really is gorgeous – particularly so on a bright sunny wintry morning. My path from here is simple – I just follow the lakeside path clockwise round the lake with the water on my right.

On my way round I pass a watersports centre on my right and the intriguing artificial boulders which are purpose built for climbing, on my left.

The views across the lake are divine – boats galore and birdlife too, especially on the island in the middle.

After passing the island on my right there is a golf course to my left, then a sailing club and finally – just before I return to my start point on this route – I reach the restaurant which is right on the lake.

There are tables and chairs outside looking out over the small jetty which presumably serves the sailing club – and in fact the cafe/bar part of this building is actually part of the golf club. However they serve a very decent coffee – today they also have a rather nice flapjack to go with it – and the views from the seating area are absolutely delightful.

It seems churlish to criticise but this is truly a stunning location – the golf club and facilities are clearly council run – the toilets are very clean and smart and the building well-maintained, there is plenty of on-site (pay and display) parking but…there were lots of people walking and enjoying this lovely space – there are children’s play facilities and nature trails on top of the walk around the lake – there is an opportunity for a really stunning cafe here. The restaurant in the same building appears to be Greek – and may well be fantastic – but mid morning Sunday it’s closed.

After a brief pitstop it’s time to head to the football pitch to embarrass one of my children at a sporting event…us middle-aged mums have to take our pleasure where we find it!!


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