In short: a surprisingly rural walk with stunning views. Plentiful free parking, clean functional public toilets and a delightful cafe. 2 hrs 25 mins walking + 40 mins pitstop.
Once again, a Wednesday full of appointments for our children meant walking on Tuesday this week. And ‘Oh what a beautiful morning’ it was – full of Spring sunshine – absolutely gorgeous.
We decided to go for an old favourite – our Trent Park circular route. The last time we did this walk (just before I started this blog), it was so wet as to be pretty much impassable in places – and so we gave it a long break to, hopefully, recover! Today it’s pretty dry with a couple of very muddy patches – we were both wearing waterproof walking trainers but could probably have got away without them.
We start at the large free car park on the Cockfosters side of Trent Park, postcode EN4 0DZ. Here we change our shoes and make use of the clean and well maintained public toilets.
We walk through the car park past the cafe and take the footpath behind the ice cream van – this forms part of the London Loop and is waymarked on posts at various points. This path takes us through woods here and we immediately come upon a very muddy patch – fortunately the trees in the woodland are well spaced so there are ways around the mud. These woods – and in fact the park in general – are popular with dogwalkers so although the path isn’t surfaced here it is well used, so easy to follow.
The path goes gently downhill until we reach the periphery of the wood where it turns right and we can see fields through the woods to the left. We cross a bridge over a small stream and continue on a more well worn obvious path with a large meadow to the right and a hedgerow to the left with fields beyond.
At the end of this path – just in front of a gate into further woodland we turn left onto a path arriving from the right and carry on slightly downhill till we get to a more open space with a lovely lake to our right. We continue along this firm and well surfaced path past a grassy path off to the left up to an obelisk until we reach a fork in the path where we take the left branch. We head uphill with more woods on our right, ignoring a path left until we reach another fork where we bear left, following the London Loop arrow.
At this point we are approaching the road, Ferny Hill, at an oblique angle and just as it comes into view we take the path right towards it going through a gate to the verge of the road. Here we turn left along the pavement until we are opposite a lay-by on the opposite side of the road where we cross and then head right at the footpath sign on a path between fields.
Here the path heads gently downhill; soon the road disappears from sight and we are suddenly in the middle of a very rural landscape with crops growing in fields on both sides and the path hugging a hedgerow to our left. We pass one field boundary on our right and continue to the bottom of the second field where we turn right and the footpath continues beside a brook at the bottom of several fields.
We follow this path as it passes several fields turning slightly to the right where each field meets the next. Honestly we could be anywhere here – it feels like deepest countryside – certainly rural Hertfordshire – only the very distant hum of the M25 gives away the fact that we are still technically in North London.
We eventually cross the stream at a bridge and continue on its left bank alongside a further field. At the end of this we cross another bridge and come to an area where the path is now a wide grassy farm track. There are fields on our left – today there are horses in the first field – and then a sweet little duck pond. After passing this we cross at a stile and continue past one last field at the end of which the path bends left and goes uphill with this last field on our left – a rope fence demarcates the edge of the path – towards another wood on the brow of the hill.
Shortly before we reach the road at the top, The Ridgeway, the path heads right through a gate and into the wood. This path is our second very muddy spot but with a bit of wiggling through bushes we manage to avoid the mushy bits!
The path arcs gently right through the trees and on coming out of the wood we are once again on the edge of a field with the road on our left. Here we suddenly have a magnificent view on our right, downhill with the London skyscrapers and Ally Pally on the horizon.
The path meets the road at a stile and here we turn right and walk on the verge towards the Enfield Chace hotel. We pass in front of the hotel and here diverge from the London Loop as we turn right onto Oak Avenue. We walk along this road to the end – marvelling at the lovely views ahead – and turn right onto Hadley Road at the bottom.
We walk along the narrow pavement on the verge here, passing a Thames Water property and Parkside Pick Your Own Farm on our right. To be honest this isn’t the nicest road to walk along as the verge is too narrow for us to be side by side and cars speed along as the speed limit is 60 mph for some reason. After a good 10 minutes we reach the woodland on the left hand side of the road which is Trent Park and cross the road here to go over the stile at the corner of the woods.
A couple of yards into the wood there is a bridle path and we turn left onto it. Usually this path is too muddy to walk along but today it’s fine and we walk along it with the woodland on our right and fields beyond the park boundary on our left.
There is a path a few yards to our right which we sometimes cross over onto when it’s really mushy but today it’s fine and we continue on this bridle path till we reach a wooden bridge across a stream. We cross the bridge and turn right and then immediately left to join the parallel path which climbs through some very pretty woodland.
At a crossroad of paths we continue straight on to a paved lane. We shortly come to a couple of houses on the left and entrances to the old university site on the right – these are all now blocked by contractors’ chain link fences.
At the end of this lane we turn right onto a lane arriving from the left and pass a beautifully kept pair of houses on our right. This lane takes us into the heart of the old Middlesex University site and at the next junction of lanes we carry straight on on a path across the grass, with the historic Trent Park mansion on our right and some gorgeous trees ahead. Crossing a second lane we re-enter the parkland on a woodland path – and here we spot a beautiful carpet of bluebells on our left – what a treat!
We stick on this path, slightly downhill with a fence on our right, passing between the two lakes until we come out onto a paved path which bends right to join the path we were on about an hour and a half previously. Here we take a sharp left and return past the lake, curving left and then take a path off right which retraces our steps back past the meadow, through the woods and eventually to the car park.
The cafe here is a delight – especially on a bright sunny day as there are plenty of outside tables and a sweet little fountain. Even on cold days there are patio heaters for hardy souls and dogwalkers. We have a tasty early lunch and a coffee sitting outside; enjoying a perfect May day.