The closure for three weeks of Cross Roads at High Beach in Epping Forest, to permit the installation of cattle grids that was strenuously opposed by horse riders, has been baffling motorists trying to reach the A104 Epping New Road and head south towards London.
Running parallel with the A104 is Fairmead Road, which appears on Google Maps, for example, to join the main road a kilometre or so to the south. Cars do inch along this rutted route, now given over to forest users, to reach a couple of car parks.
Unfortunately for motorists seeking a way out of the woods, the southern exit is gated and closed to all except walkers, riders and cyclists. Doubtless motorcyclists might squeeze past the single traffic cone, that was today sporting a very temporary City of London Corporation sign stating there is no way through, and over the hump of earth that blocks the old road just before the gate.
Many a car driver or a white van man, though, will be faced with a lengthy diversion north to the A121 and on to Epping New Road at Wake Arms Roundabout (where for baffled tourists there is no longer a pub of that name, but a steak restaurant). Some have tried their luck, and risked their suspension, by driving down Fairmead Road at speeds that raise choking clouds of dust, before turning round in frustration and heading back to the official diversion.
The only indication on the ground that Fairmead Road is a dead end is a No Through Road sign leaning at a tipsy angle in the shade of trees to the right of the junction. You’d have thought the responsible authorities might have realised the confusion likely to reign for the next three weeks and at least put the sign back on an even keel. Photographs: Paul Nettleton
Update, 14 June: I checked and there’s now a freestanding metal sign to indicate that Fairmead Road is a dead end. The No Through Road sign under the trees is still leaning at a crazy angle. Oh, and is that asbestos corrugated roofing material that’s been flytipped at the end of the road? It’s been taped off, so the authorities must be aware.