25 – Forty Hall, Whitewebbs & Hillyfields Park 5.8 miles – 20th July

In short: a lovely walk for a very hot day with woods, water, public park & open parkland all bookended by the spectacular Forty Hall and it’s gorgeous grounds. Very average public toilets; pleasant cafe with good coffee & fresh sandwiches in a delightful setting. 2 hrs 20 mins walking + 45 min pitstop.

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With temperatures at over 30’C my trusty companion, Alison, and I decide to head out of London for our final walk together before we both head off on our holidays. I also decide it’s time to experiment with inventing our own walk using just an Ordnance Survey map – rather than a walk from a book or website – or as is frequently the case with the blogs here a mixture of familiar routes and established paths. In actual fact I have been wanting to walk in this area for a while but could only find either very long circular walks – of 10-12 miles – or the linear London Loop which cuts across it and which in fact we use in places here.

Obviously for a first excursion of this kind we don’t want to go too far from know landmarks and other civilisation so we head to the wilds of outer London – Enfield to be precise – for some rather tame map-based orienteering!

We drive to Forty Hall, postcode EN2 9HA, about 30 minutes drive from Muswell Hill, and make use of the large free car parking on site. On leaving the car park we head towards the house and in particular take the direction of the toilets which are in a building adjoining the cafe, beside the main house. On our way we get a good look at the facade of Forty Hall itself and it’s really impressive:

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On leaving the house we walk back to the ornamental pond which we already passed and take the path skirting the edge of it, turning left after the small garden on our left to join a path arriving from the right and parallel to the main drive up to the house. We are heading towards the gate of Forty Farm.

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Just before the farm entrance we take a path to our right heading away from the house, through grass pastureland and beside a row of trees to our left.

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This path leads us eventually into a small wood with a pond ahead, formed by Turkey Brook which flows West to East across this space. We turn left in front of the pond and take a path leading through the trees, passing a second pond on our right.

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At the end of this pond we cross a small footbridge and join the London Loop which is on the far side of the pond. Continuing in the same direction, away from the ponds, we very soon take a path on our right, signposted for Whitewebbs Road.

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This path leads around the edge of a couple of fields, joining up with the New River old course. We keep the river – or in many places the dried up river bed – on our left. There is simultaneously a path on the far side which seems to run parallel to us but bounded by fences so less appealing than the path we are on.

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We take a path off left, again signposted Whitewebbs Road and shortly after reach the road itself. We turn left and given a choice between a narrow footpath and a fenced bridleway we initially take the path but after a while pass through an opening in the fence to join the bridleway.

The path skirts the car park of the King and Tinker pub and shortly after we find ourselves beside an information board on a path entering Whitewebbs Wood. We are fairly confident that this doesn’t mark the path through the wood that we are planning to take but given that the map on the board shows all the footpaths but signally fails to show us Where We Are!! – it’s of limited use.

We continue on our bridlepath and various footpaths lead off left – unfortunately we manage to miss our path, clearly a bridleway but lacking any signing we think it must be further along. The bridleway off left that we missed would have been a straighter route but we continue along, roughly speaking parallel to the road until we come close to the edge of the wood where the path bends left.

We are heading slightly downhill towards a pond in the woods but the path bends left just before we get to it and joins the wide bridleway running left to right through the woods (presumably the path we should have been on!). Here we turn right and very soon pass the sign for the New River Aqueduct on our left and continue straight on – on this path which becomes more of a track and then a lane, called in fact Flash Lane according to our map.

Just after passing a couple of houses we reach a road junction where we carefully cross, turn right and then immediately left onto a path which soon enters Hillyfields Park.

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This is a really pretty park – with a clear, newish white stone path leading downhill at the start. There are some beautiful trees ahead and we soon find ourselves back at Turkey Brook which we cross and immediately turn left taking the path alongside the brook.

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The only real downside to this lovely spot is the unusually large quantity of dog mess on and beside the paths which really does let the place down a bit.

After a few minutes walking alongside the brook, coincidentally also following the London Loop at this point, we come to a junction of paths and take the right which is signposted for the Loop, climbing a small hill and turning left at the top. The path here runs beside a line of park benches and at the foot of the hill on the left is a perfect little bandstand.

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The path runs downhill, rejoins the path beside the brook and we are soon at the exit out of the park beside the information board. Here we cross the road beside a pub and take the footpath immediately opposite which leads into the Forty Hall estate. At this point, this is the London Loop but we soon reach a gate which enters the Forty Hall park, marked as open until sunset.

This path runs alongside a field of cows on our left, then pigs, and then a market garden, with allotments on our right. Finally we are walking beside a lovely old brick wall which finishes at a gate on our right into a beautiful surprise – the most amazing ornamental garden with gorgeous colourful flowerbeds in full bloom – an absolute feast for the eyes!!

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The main Forty Hall building is on our left but the garden is so beautiful we decide to walk around it just to get a really good look at it.

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Arriving at the main building, we walk around to the cafe which has lovely outdoor tables on both the garden and the courtyard sides. We enjoy delicious fresh sandwiches, cold drinks and then coffees – all of which are just what we need after a super walk on a hot summer’s day.

Walking back to the car park, we pass the lovely ornamental pond again and marvel at how such a beautiful place can be so, relatively, unspoilt by crowds.

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