London: the step-by-step guide Michael Leapman celebrates VE Day with a walk around Hornchurch

to mark the 50th anniversary of VE Day, this walk is centred on a wartime aerodrome that has become a country park. The airfield was created on a former farm during the First World War, and in the Second World War was an important take-off point for the Spitfires that defended London from German bombers. RAF Hornchurch closed in 1962.

The car park itself was the original aircraft dispersal bay, and the bank around it contained air-raid shelters. Leave it by the black tarmac drive that you drove in on, and where this swings right for the exit keep straight on towards a metal post and continue ahead on a worn grass path.

The area of scrub on your left is the old airfield. On your right is a row of modern houses and there are distant views of the Kentish hills ahead. The flat, open ground is a paradise for dog walkers but others may find this first section of the walk a little dreary: fear not, it gets more eventful as you go along.

Where the path divides, keep to the right of the wire fence, making for a point a little to the right of the Albyns Farm buildings ahead. When you get level with the farm you will see another car park. Climb the stile and turn left briefly on the lane, passing a pond on your right. About 100 yards up the lane, just beyond a store yard, turn right through a gap to the left of metal gates.

Walk on the gravel path to the left of the wooden fence and follow the fence round to the left as it makes a right-angled turn at another metal gate. Where the fence ends, keep ahead on the path indicated by arrows on posts. (At this point, walking the route two weeks ago, I heard my first cuckoo of the year.)

At a sign saying "Lowfield Wood", walk through a gap by a gate and turn right on the path that keeps to the right of a large lake, home to ducks, geese and moorhens. Beyond the lake keep on the path as it turns right, passing a wartime pillbox, built to protect sharp-shooters defending the airfield.

Continue following the arrows, passing another pillbox and gun emplacement on the right. Also on the right is a mass of reed stems rising from the marshy land between the path and the River Inglebourne. Keep to the right of two picnic tables and climb a slope, giving a good view of the river and the marsh.

At the bottom of the slope turn right on a path that leads to the river bank. Turn left and keep on the path as it follows the bank, crosses a stream over a wooden bridge and joins a metalled drive. Turn right here and leave the country park through new wooden gates.

After a few yards cut across the grass on your right to get back to the winding path by the riverbank. After a big loop the path joins the drive. Turn right here to cross a newly-fenced concrete bridge, following a yellow footpath sign.

Across the bridge, make for a wood ahead on the middle of three paths. After crossing a culvert, fork left through trees and continue ahead when some houses come into view on your left. You go through a wooden fence, past a "permissive footpath" sign, into a charming dell where there should still be a few bluebells to remind you that spring is making way for summer.

Go ahead at a crossing of paths and at the next, bigger junction take the first path on the right, up a slope, to emerge on open scrubland. Keep to the right, past another footpath sign, and when you see houses ahead turn left. After 50 yards fork left off the gravel path onto a grass track that goes gently downhill to the river bank.

Turn right alongside the river and climb to the road to cross the bridge, then immediately turn left on the other bank. Keep to the tarmac, drive past a children's playground, then the backs of houses on your right and the chimneys of St George's Hospital beyond.

Keep on until you reach the bridge where you crossed the river earlier. Here turn right on a narrow grassy path that crosses a streamlet, then sharp left on an even narrower path between plastic mesh fences. After a while, the path swings right. As soon as the hospital comes back into view on your right, turn left onto a clear earth path, crossing scrubland diagonally.

Keep on the path beneath young oak trees. It leads to one last pillbox, where you turn right and then left to return to the car park.

For a leaflet about Hornchurch Country Park, ring Havering Borough Council on 01708 554451 or 01708 772888

Distance: Four miles

Time: Two hours

By Tube: Hornchurch (District Line), then 15 min walk down Suttons Lane

By bus: 252, 256

Car park: In Hornchurch Country Park, corner of Suttons Lane and Squadrons Approach

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas