53 – Winchmore Hill to Palmers Green, parks and gardens; back via New River 7.8 miles – 28th February

In short: an interesting walk exploring unknown (to us) parks & gardens not far from our doorstep and a short urban river walk back to the start. Free on street parking is available although we used a pay-and-display car park, public toilets in at least one park, fabulous pitstop in lovely local Palmers Green cafe. 2 hrs 55 mins walking + 20 mins pitstop.

Today I need to be not too far from home and so we choose a walk from the London Parks and Gardens Trust website – Winchmore Hill to Palmers Green – using the New River path to return to our start point. The published walk starts from Winchmore Hill station but we are driving and parking is quite restricted in the neighbouring roads, there is free parking available on Ford’s Grove, approx postcode N21 3DN, but due to some roadworks on the main road (Green Lanes) access to Ford’s Grove is limited and we end up parking at a small pay and display car park close to the junction with the main road.

We start by heading to Green Lanes which we cross and go on to Station Road towards the railway station. After passing the station we cross Wilson Street to The Green and turn into Church Hill just after the Kings Head pub. In accordance with a suggestion in the walk instructions we turn into the garden of the Friends’ Meeting House on our right hand side and admire the lovely trees and planting.

On leaving the Meeting House we cross Church Hill, turn right and immediately left into Denleigh Gardens. We continue along here crossing Branscombe Gardens and turning right onto Seaforth Gardens. After just a few houses we turn left onto a path into Grovelands Park.

At the end of this tarmac path we come upon woodland and bear right onto the woodland path ahead. We continue through the woods until we reach a stream which we cross and turn left onto a path leading up to the beautiful lake.

Here we turn left, passing the lake on our right, heading uphill past the cafe on our right and out of the park bearing left and then right to the path leading straight to the exit. We cross the road here, Broad Walk, and walk ahead onto Woodcroft eventually turning left between numbers 28 and 30 to enter Woodcroft Wildspace – a charming community garden, currently still under development but already showing evidence of something very special.

After a tour of this space we leave and retrace our steps back to Grovelands Park and the lovely lake – making use of the clean functional public toilets beside the (closed) cafe en route. We walk to the right of the lake and turn left, keeping it on our left to pass the gorgeous John Nash designed house over to our right.

This path takes us out of this really lovely park and onto The Bourne where we cross, turn left and immediately right onto Greenway. Here we are walking through an interesting housing estate from the 1920s with great opportunities for nosiness. We turn right onto Meadway and follow this road all the way to the junction with Southgate High Street where we turn left to head towards the lovely village style green.

Here we turn right onto Waterfall Road and after passing the striking Gilbert Scott designed Christ Church we turn left into the little Minchenden Oak Garden to take a look at the famous oak tree.

We then continue along Waterfall Road, crossing Chandos Avenue, Abbotshall Avenue and Morton Way and here we enter Arnos Park by the railway viaduct.

We enter beside the Pymmes Brook and walk the whole way through this long lovely park beside the brook. After several minutes we leave the park at a gate onto Wilmer Way where we cross, turn left, cross Dawlish Avenue and then Powys Lane near the roundabout to enter the park opposite, Broomfield Park.

Here we turn right and follow the path on the perimeter of the park to the walled garden where we turn left. We turn right between two lakes and then left again to walk beside yet more lakes. This really is a super spot in the heart of Palmers Green – the lakes are alive with amazing waterfowl.

We walk to the right of a fifth lake and pick up a path on the far side of the park to exit just before the fence at the edge onto Aldermans Hill. Here we turn left and cross to the fabulous Baskervilles Tea Shop on the corner of Grovelands Road. This is a terrific pitstop – a delicious homemade and very tempting cake display from which we choose some yummy scones to go with great coffees. This is obviously an extremely popular spot – especially with mums and babies – so I would guess it could be a little tricky to get a table for lunch for example – but we have just timed it well for a late morning snack.

On leaving the cafe we head left along Aldermans Hill, right onto Broomfield Avenue (we are now departing from the published walk to track down the New River Path) and then left onto Broomfield Lane.

After passing the turn off to Asda at a roundabout we come to a junction with Green Lanes which we cross at some traffic lights onto Oakthorpe Road. Just after crossing Riverway we turn left onto the New River path which here runs beside a playing field.

At the end of the playing field we have to drop down onto the road, Chimes Avenue, to follow the path – we make an abortive attempt to rejoin the path at a bridge but in fact it isn’t possible until we reach Hazelwood Lane.

At this point we now have the river on our right and to our delight soon spot a heron on the far side.

We follow this path for some distance – very muddy in places but we cling to the fences on our left! – passing playing fields again on our right and the backs of houses on our left. At Hedge Lane – a fairly major road – we emerge and have to cross to turn left and then right onto River Avenue. Here we are evidently unable to walk beside the river and the path just follows the street. The road eventually bends to the left and we then turn right onto Green Lanes. After a short distance we turn right onto Barrowell Green which we cross and pick up another section of the path running diagonally across a small open green space.

At the end of this section we cross Carpenter Gardens and pick up the path on the far side. This happens again at Highfield Road although for this final section we are on the right of the river. We finally emerge onto Farm Road which is where our car park is situated – this has a junction with Ford’s Grove where we had intended to be.

This has been a bit of a voyage of discovery unearthing some super parks not far from our own doorstep – some of which we knew slightly – but all of which have plenty to enjoy!

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