Pole Hill

The steep hill is worth the climb because from here it is possible to see all the way across London to Greenwich - the start of the Meridian Line which runs up and over this hill, dividing the East and West Hemispheres. An obelisk at the summit marks the exact spot.

A clear winter’s day is the best time to appreciate this view when the trees have shed their leaves.

Turn away from this vista though and the land suddenly falls away down steep banks of crevices that are thick with trees, these great rifts forming a dramatic backdrop.

This is the spot where over ten thousand years ago great floods at the end of the second ice age reached - bringing with it a different kind of soil so that the nearby Yardley Hill is covered with distinctly different plants even to this day.

The more gentle slopes are ideal for sledging down in the snow – and Pole Hill is also the destination for kite flying, high up here on a windy day.

It’s a viewing platform for New Year fireworks miles away in Central London with the sight of the Millenium Wheel lit up in the distance – a great place to celebrate the New Year when some of the intrepid locals wrap up warm against the cold and climb the hill.

Strange to think that this open green space was not so long ago the site of noisy and grimy industry. There were brick works with six kilns, an engine house, a hundred foot long drying house and other buildings – but there is no trace of it now that it has been returned to nature.

There is no sign either of the hut that Lawrence of Arabia built here when he came to find peace and solace amongst the freshness and greenery of the forest, a healing place after his time in the desert and before he wrote The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

A lone magpie pecks at the ground – one for sorrow. Perhaps an emblem of the tragic death of a hero who loved Pole Hill.

Walk from Chingford Station