Becontree and Upney Circular Walk (9 miles / 14.6 kilometres)

The walk begins at Becontree (District Line) Underground Station, although Upney Underground - one stop away - could be used to break the walk into two separate sections. If starting from Upney, follow the instructions from Step 7. From Becontree to Upney Station is 5.15 miles / 8.29 kilometres, continuing from Upney and completing the circuit is a further 3.92 miles / 6.31 kilometres. The walk is mainly over surfaced level paths. Crossing the railway at the end of Section 10, however, involves a steep climb up and down steps. Other steps near Upney Underground Station can easily be avoided.

At first glance, this area of East London may not seem a worthy venue for a walk, but our route takes in no less than six parks. Inevitably, some walking along streets is involved, but these are pleasant enough, and there is a bonus by way of a medieval manor house, which still has its moat. The lakes in the parks attract large numbers of Canada Geese.

One minor drawback to this walk is the absence of toilet facilities in any of the parks. However, walkers can find toilets either at Valence House or at the Castle Green Centre from Mondays to Saturdays.


1. Turn left out of Becontree Station and, after 130 metres, cross Gale Street by the pedestrian crossing, then go through the gates of Parsloes Park at the corner of Ivyhouse Road. Go forward for 90 metres to the lake, where turn left to follow the railings around the lake. Where the path divides by more railings, with a white pavilion in front of you, take the left fork to pass redundant tennis courts and through bollards to emerge at a multi-pathed junction. Parsloes Park, at 58 hectares, is the largest park in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Tufted duck nest on the islands in the park’s lake.

Parsloes Park 
Parsloes Park

 

2. Take the path directly ahead, passing sports pitches and a path coming in from the left. Continue to Parsloes Avenue and turn left. Go past the Sydney Russell Leisure Centre and School to use the pedestrian crossing. Retrace your steps for a few paces and turn left into Keppel Road. You are now entering the heart of the Becontree Estate.

The Becontree Estate was claimed to be the largest municipal housing estate in the world. Begun in 1921 as part of the “Homes fit for Heroes” plan, the idea was to provide decent housing for those who had fought in the First World War. The then London County Council built some 25,000 homes by 1934 and nearly another 2,000 were later added. The houses had gas and electricity, inside toilets, fitted baths and both front and back gardens. These standards were well in advance of what many people enjoyed at the time. In return, the London County Council had rigorous rules on what was expected of their tenants, and these covered not only standards of house and garden maintenance, but also children’s behaviour and the keeping of pets. Some 90,000 people were planned to benefit. The estate remains generally well-maintained even today.

3. Continue forward along Keppel Road until reaching the busy Wood Lane. Cross this and continue forward along Aylmer Road. On reaching the T-junction, turn left along Valence Wood Road. After 80 metres, turn right into Henshawe Road. At the top, turn right into Margery Road and go through railings to enter Valence Park. Walk alongside the moat; on reaching the carpark, turn left and left again to follow the broad path up to Valence House. If you wish to explore the other section of the moat, a short diversion can be made from the carpark.

Valence House and Park are named after Agnes de Valence who lived here in the 1300s. The house, which dates from the 1400s, contains a fine local museum which has newly reopened after extensive refurbishment. The house is currently open from Monday to Saturday each week. Both a café and toilets are in the low range of modern buildings across the lawn.

Valence House 
Valence House

 

4. Past the house, turn right to visit the herb garden, then continue on through gates and past Valence Library, then emerge onto Becontree Avenue, where turn left.   (Should this path be closed, return to the carpark and follow the roadway out, then turn left). Continue for 180 metres, then use the light-controlled junction at Valence Avenue to cross diagonally.

Drop-out point: A number 62 bus from near the junction of Becontree Avenue and Valence Avenue can take you back to Becontree or Upney Underground if you want to break off.

Still continue along Becontree Avenue as far as Bennetts Castle Lane (the next crossroads just past Brockelbank Lodge), then turn right along it, and quickly left into Haydon Road to reach a junction with two churches. St Thomas’s, in an Early English style, was the first of the estate’s permanent churches, being built in 1926-7. The adjacent Catholic church of St Vincent de Paul, in a Perpendicular style, dates from 1932-3.

5. Keeping the churches on your right, cross Waldegrave Road and continue forward into Stevens Road, almost immediately forking right, to enter Goodmayes Park at its end. On reaching the lake, turn right, then left over the bridge halfway along its length. (It is possible to walk around the entire lake, but the path at its top end can be tricky). Once over, turn back to walk down the other side of the lake. At its far right-hand corner, continue just left of a large detached house to pass between sports pitches left and bowling greens right. At a junction of paths with its own roundabout, go through two sets of barriers to make for the left-hand corner of tennis courts, turning left along the avenue of trees, with static exercise equipment on the right, to go through a gate where this path ends. Cross Mayesbrook Road and immediately enter Goodmayes Park Extension opposite. Keep forward on the main path until it swings right in front of a brick pavilion. Ignore the nearby gates, but stay with the path until it leaves the park at its far right corner. Now turn left, using the bollards by Goodmayes Lodge as the safest crossing point, proceed to the junction and swing right into Longbridge Road.

Goodmayes Park 
Goodmayes Park

 

Drop-out point: Several useful bus routes are available from here if you want to break off: Route 5 serves Barking, Route 145 serves Becontree and Ilford, whilst Route 387 serves Barking and Goodmayes.

6. Shortly cross Longbridge Road, via the pedestrian crossing. Just past the Catholic church, turn left into Waterside Close and quickly right through gates into Mayesbrook Park. Take the forward path, close to the park’s right edge. The Mayes Brook, recently mostly freed from its imprisonment in a concrete culvert, and which runs into the River Roding near Creekmouth, is over to your right.  Continue straight on, passing the Mayesbrook Arena over to your left. There are extensive sports facilities here catering for track and field events. The park broadens out and the path divides. Take either option to maintain your original direction and pass children’s swings. Keep forward to arrive between hedges which lead into formal gardens. Just as South Lake in front of you comes into view, take the sloping path on the left which curves down to the lake, turning right on the second path to keep the lake close on your left. Shortly reach North Lake and turn right alongside it - this reverses your earlier direction. Where the path turns right, go forward over grass, to swing left towards houses at the lake’s end, then eventually swinging further left to meet a path at a bridge which spans the Mayes Brook.  After 120 metres, turn right to exit the park through gates into The Drive. As you approach the main road (Upney Lane) towards the end of The Drive, turn left along Edgefield Avenue and, where this bends, ascend steps on the right to come out opposite Upney Underground Station on top of the rise ahead. If you want to avoid these steps, go forward directly into Upney Lane and turn left.

7. Continue past Upney Station. (If you are starting the walk from here, cross the road and turn right). Once over the railway, descend steps, then turn right and continue left along Meadow Road, passing Merton Road and swinging right to take Keir Hardie Way on the left. Keir Hardie Way is a pleasant estate road, with shrubs planted between the pavements and roadway. Swing left at the end and then right at the crossroads, still following Keir Hardie Way.

Keir Hardie Way 
Keir Hardie Way

 

8. Cross over the busy Lodge Avenue at the lights and continue forward down Woodward Road. After 120 metres, take the first right into Campsey Road. Cross over Rosedale Road and continue to Stamford Road, where turn left. Go past a school and take the next right into Canonsleigh Road. At its end, cross Goresbrook Road to enter Castle Green.

There never was a real castle at Castle Green - the name originates from Ripple Castle a now-vanished early 19th century house.

9. Initially turn left by the fence, the main area of Castle Green soon appearing. Now cross the green diagonally, towards distant wind turbines and the right-hand corner of a wire-mesh fence. Cross a track to the left of a skateboarding facility, then make for a gap between a small plantation and a further fence corner. Keep to the left of a second plantation and, just before the fence juts out again, veer right to follow the main A13 road, which forms the main route between London and Tilbury. At the fence corner, where there is an artwork depicting sporting heroes, turn left to follow Gale Street, gaining the pavement through a gap toward the end of this fence. Pass the Castle Green Centre, opened in 2005, where the facilities include a café and toilets (open Monday to Saturday) then, after recrossing Goresbrook Road, continue further along Gale Street.

Sporting Heroes
Sporting Heroes

 

10. After 130 metres, turn right into Langley Crescent, passing two schools, and continue to the junction with Urswick Road, where turn right. The church ahead, with its strikingly tall tower, is St Alban’s, built in 1933-4 - the money for its construction was coughed up by Miss Violet Wills of the Wills Tobacco family. Fork right here into Vincent Road and take the alleyway on the left between Nos 112 and 110 to enter Goresbrook Park. At first, turn right over grass, keeping close to houses. By an entrance, pick up the second of two paths and follow this to the top left-hand corner of the park. Continue forward to cross Dagenham Avenue and take the path’s continuation immediately opposite, soon forking right to cross the bridge over the Gores Brook ahead. Once over, turn left and follow the brook all the way to reach Dagenham Avenue again. Enter the final section of the park by a gate off-set slightly to the right across the road. Don’t recross the stream, but keep forward over grass to leave the park at Hedgemans Road ahead.

Goresbrook Park 
Goresbrook Park

 

Drop-out point: If you want to finish the walk here, the 145 bus runs along this road and connects with Becontree Underground.

Turn left along Hedgemans Road and in 110 metres take Coleman Road at the first right. At the second bend, take the alleyway on the right to cross the railway by a steep footbridge, emerging at the corner of Parsloes Park.

11. Cross Ivyhouse Road and take the footpath across the park. Go past the pavilion and turn left onto a path just past the parking area behind. Continue straight on, ignoring a right fork. Go over the cross-path at the bend and through gates then, on reaching the lake, turn left to go around it, swinging right with the lake as you approach a line of houses. Stay with the lake until reaching the point you joined it at the beginning of the walk. Turn left here towards shops to exit the park. (If you started from Upney and wish to complete the circuit back there, carry on around the lake until the white pavilion mentioned in Step 1 appears). Turn left at the cross-road and up the rise to reach Becontree Station again.

 


 

© Mike Biggs, Ramblers (Inner London Area), 2015.

If you have any comments about this walk, or notice that it needs updating to take account of changes on the route, then please contact Mike at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.