UPMINSTER/ UPMINSTER BRIDGE LONDON TUBE RAMBLES
A windmill and a waterside wander of 3-4 miles
(NOTE: the windmill is closed until 2018 for restoration and the building of a visitor centre)
These two stations are so close together that I've treated treat them as one. Start at Upminster. From the station turn left down Station Road to reach the main street, St. Mary’s Lane. Cross to St. Laurence’s which has a very old tower (c 1200) with a short broach spire. Apart from being interesting in its own right, it was here that in the early eighteenth century William Derham, the rector and a respected scholar, measured the speed of sound. This was done by engaging trustworthy friends at various distances to fire shotguns at agreed moments, and timing the results. Further down the road comes a treat – a complete windmill. This smock mill dates back to 1803 and is well looked after. Details of opening days on website.
Almost opposite the mill is the charming Old Chapel. Restored in 2013, it was originally built in 1800 as a place for Dissenters to worship. The full history can be read here. The interior can be visited on specified weekends listed on the website. Continue down the road and cross at the traffic island just before some old cottages. Take the first left, Bridge Avenue, which leads to the Hornchurch Stadium. Go to the carpark and on the left there is a swing gate which leads to Gaynes Parkway.
This is a narrow swathe of woodland that follows the river Ingrebourne as it winds its way to Rainham. There are two routes which converge here, one marked '136' (Sustrans)and the other the London Loop . At the first junction turn right and after crossing a small bridge, left at the 136 sign. Next wander over Hacton Bridge at the lower end, towards a children's playground and an outdoor gym. Taking the surfaced road past these, continue as far as you like towards Hornchurch Country Park, about a mile away. If you wish to end your ramble at the entrance to this park, go in the direction of the houses on the right. For details of the ten minute walk up residential roads to Hornchurch Tube click here. You might prefer to retrace your steps, turning left at Bridge Avenue, to return home via Upminster Bridge Tube station (25 mins). If undertaking the whole four miles to Rainham, just keep following the route signs. Those interested in WW2 history should look out for various concrete relics along the way, such as rare Tett Turrets and pillboxes, while people who enjoy the beauty of a meandering river will be enchanted by the extensive wetlands. If you get as far as Rainham, I strongly advise taking a 103 bus from just outside the entrance to the park. The half-mile trek to the bus station (where you can pick up a bus to Dagenham East Tube) entails negotiating a large roundabout - not an attractive prospect after the tranquillity of the valley.
Upminster is just one route from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to go to www.londontuberambles.co.uk to see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!