Silence and Noise – Along London’s North Circular

As the Spiral shifts direction from northwards to westwards on the 4th loop out, the walk sweeps from hush of forest to hum of motorway as we bump up alongside the A406 North Circular Road, at one of its busiest sections, a gorge cut through Enfield.



Roads are often simillied as glistening rivers, flowing traffic, but here among the dirty blacktop paths and concrete props there are real rivers to bridge and accommodate: the Lee, the Navigation Lea, Pymmes Brook, the New River, each one squeezed into a culvert, each one abandoned, ignored, left to its own devices, just getting on with its business of flowing down to the Thames.

At the roundabout junctions, like Waterworks Corner and Crooked Billet, you can see that the road designers have made an effort at various times to accommodate vehicles (dense iron mass below), pedestrians are moons waxing in at set times of day, cyclists speed through the underpasses like comets while local cars and vans orbit like space dust. The noise here is palpable, thick, trenchant, insistent.



crooked-billet1Yet beside this racket of rubber on tarmac and engine drone, just off to the side … silence. A narrow footpath, empty space, unused land, scrub and bullrushes, a few people playing at freedom with a bonfire and a bench, a fear of footpads, a muslim graveyard, a traveller’s campsite, a high-banked reservoir.


We’re isolated, away from the herd, cut off from a police response, vulnerable. We notice natural things, slight pollution in the leaves, a squirrel, clouds. We notice man made things that are not quite straight: a recycling plant dubbed eco park, complete with massive incinerator tower, a timber merchant with a few stacks of pine, an unused scrubby road dubbed Lee Country Park, a sugar water bottler called Coca-Cola.



Meeting place: just outside Snaresbrook underground station, Central line
Date & time: Sunday December 11th 2016, 1pm
Distance: the walk is about 6 miles
End point: Silver Street station, Edmonton
Route Map:
Cost: No charge

Broad House doesn’t seem very broad, nor does its mural saying 1933 Angel Ward represent an angel, more a kind of griffin with a hammer and the cog wheels of industry.


The London Spiral



3 thoughts on “Silence and Noise – Along London’s North Circular

  1. aruna dutt December 10, 2016 / 9:24 pm

    Dear Tim, Sorry if I haven’t let you know but I’m coming tomorrow. See you outside Snaresbrook station at 1pm. Best Wishes, Aruna Dutt ________________________________________


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