Hollow Pond

Sunday 10 December 2017 – Walthamstow.

The snow continued to fall throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. By the time we returned from our morning walk the footpaths either side of our road had mostly been turned to grey sludge, though the footprints I had made in the garden were slowly being buried under crisp new flakes.

I was itching to go out again, and by mid-afternoon that itch had proven unscratchable, so I donned jacket, hat and gloves and went back out into a very light sprinkling of snow. I had initially considered taking the car up to the forest, but was a little concerned about the roads. Less about my driving, more about some of the pillocks out there roaring up and down the icy main roads! It was a decent, if not cold and wet day for a walk.

Hollow Pond is a far corner of Epping Forest, not far from where we live. It is an interesting place. There is a small boating lake, an area of clear heathland, and some scratchy forest. It is mostly surrounded by busy roads. It is hugely popular with local dog walkers and families; lots of places for children to run, kick and throw balls, fly kites and do big outdoorie type things. It also has a dark, dirty and sleazy side and is a well known location for dogging and men wandering around in the forested areas looking for sex. There is a strange mix of people and uses. It was here I decided to walk to;  I was hoping for solitude.

I was wearing my trail running shoes, they have great grip in slippery conditions, but they are not really waterproof, mildly resistant is an apt description. The footpaths were really slushy, so lack of grip was not really the issue, wetness was possibly going to be though. I decided to walk in the road, tyres of passing cars had cleared two nice, reasonably dry lines. There was not a lot of traffic on the side streets and bizarrely I could hear the water from the melted snow rushing through the drains beneath my feet. There must been a heck of a lot of water.

Passing through St Mary’s churchyard I stopped to take my first photo, I was hoping for some interesting churchy/graveyardy covered in snow scenes, but nothing much really caught my eye. Though I do like the door and the cracks in the wall and the snow in this, the only picture I took.

There was not a lot of people out on the streets on a snowy Sunday afternoon, enough to mush things up, though not as many as normal, I suspect a lot of people had been out in the morning. With the low sky and the falling snow and the lack of people it was surprisingly quiet, even with the traffic noise. I liked it. The first scene that caught my eye was a small copse on Whipps Cross Corner, a small scruffy stand of trees between the roundabout and the hospital. There was just enough colour in the remaining leaves to attract my attention.

Crossing the road I found a small trail between the snow loaded and bent brambles and the, thankfully, buried nettles that led into the tree line. Given the time of day I was surprised at how much snow was left, the well walked paths were worn and muddy, but snow lay to the sides and I managed to avoid the worst of the mud. 

I found my way to the edge of the boating lake and to my favourite tree skeleton. I have taken a few photos of this tree, none successfully, and I am not overly happy with this one either. But it was the best I managed today.

The lake was half iced over, there were a large number of gulls standing on the ice, though the moored boats seemed to be in free water.

I drifted back into the trees for a while, randomly following short narrow pathways running between the road and the major paths, the little bits of the forest I do not normally venture into. Not that there was anything much that caught the eye of my camera. I continued on a fairly random path out of the forest on to the heath, back to where the larger trees had space to grow, clear of holly and bramble. I love scenes like this, living in London with its lack of snow I so rarely get to see them, when I do I appreciate them even more. 

There were a few more people on this side of the lake, I could hear families playing in the distance and sign of their earlier presence was everywhere. Away from the road, my own presence is all I noted, I could hear my footsteps, see and hear my breath, and when I looked behind I could see, even mixed with other prints, where I had been.  I must be utterly fabulous to be out in the wild on a day like today.

The day was drawing to a close, so I started to end the loop around the boating lake, coming across this large gaggle of geese. A man had arrived with a bag of bread and they seemed to be familiar with him and his gift.

Following  the lake I stopped to take a last couple of photos of the boats, and my favourite tree before starting the schlep back home.

I had not noticed but the snow had stopped falling while I was in the trees, there had been no wind all day so it was not particularly cold now, though a very light rain had started to come down as I walked. I made faster steps home than I did on the way.

That was pretty much the end of the snow, there was not a lot left when I went to work in the morning. Hopefully we will see some more this winter! Next time I will get up earlier, wrap up very warm and ride my bike up to the forest, get into the areas less travelled and wander around leaving my own print on the land.

About wheresphil

Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, now living in London.
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