Friday, 11 March 2016

A Suburban Wander from High Barnet to Cockfosters, London EN5, EN4

Hot on the heals of my Suburban Wander from Mill Hill Broadway to Mill Hill East, and taking continued inspiration from a number of recent reads, of which Psychogeography and Scarp are but two, I headed out once more towards the outer reaches of the London Underground Northern Line, this time to the end of the High Barnet branch.

The journey from central London is underground until East Finchley, after which it stays above ground until the end of the line at High Barnet. As the train passes through Finchley Central and on into Finchley West, there's a very real feeling of leaving the city and heading out to the country. Stations with names like Woodside Park and Totteridge and Whetstone are not reflections on the past, like some inappropriately named modern cul-de-sacs called Tall Trees, which no longer have a single tree in sight. They are still aptly named.

I had a destination in mind, Cockfosters, at the end of the Piccadilly line, but had no firm plans of the route I would take to get there. Instead I just ambled off out of High Barnet station with a vague notion that I'd go north, then east, then south.

My journey however very nearly took a different path altogether. I have recently been reading about the London Loop, and almost as soon as I exited High Barnet station I saw signs marking the Loop. But somehow this seemed too easy. Walking the loop, section by section, is on my to do list, but today was not the day to start that. Instead I walked past the temptations of the signage and headed north out of High Barnet, stopping briefly for a sustaining coffee and cake, and then headed to Hadley Green.

Almost as soon as I left the High Street in High Barnet the surroundings changed and I could see London's borderlands spreading out in front of me. Just before Hadley Green is the first of several village ponds. So many of the towns either at or towards the end of tube lines still have these wonderful features: Mill Hill, Ruislip, High Barnet, and I am sure many others.

Village pond, Hadley Green, near High Barnet, London
Village pond, Hadley Green, near High Barnet, London EN5

Village pond, Hadley Green, near High Barnet, London
Village pond, Hadley Green, near High Barnet, London EN5

Continuing along Hadley Green Road, the houses became increasing more impressive and grandiose the further I ventured. I could have photographed many more, but a couple examples can be seen below.

Entrance and clock tower, Hadley Green Road, EN5
Entrance and clock tower, Hadley Green Road, EN5

Hadley House, Hadley Green Road, EN5
Hadley House, Hadley Green Road, EN5

Less ostentatious, but beautiful nevertheless, were these smaller dwellings, possibly former alms houses?

Cottages, Hadley Green Road, EN5
Cottages, Hadley Green Road, EN5

Cottages, Hadley Green Road, EN5
Cottages, Hadley Green Road, EN5

St. Mary the Virgin, Monken Hadley
St. Mary the Virgin, Monken Hadley

The village feeling continued as I passed further outside of the London suburb, deeper into Hertfordshire, leaving Hadley Green Road and entering Hadley Common.

Houses on Hadley Common, EN5
Houses on Hadley Common, EN5

Apart from the dreary, grey sky, this picture has everything. A beautiful, decaying clock tower, still intact but beginning to be overrun with rogue creepers from some plant or other (alas I am not knowledgeable enough to suggest which one).

Disused clock tower, Hadley Common, EN5
Disused clock tower, Hadley Common, EN5

Pond on Monken Hadley Common, EN5
Pond on Monken Hadley Common, EN5

After passing so many spectacular houses, I longed for some sort of diversion, to take me somewhere different, and not much further along the road I came across a footpath leading back into suburbia. This footpath was pure Edgelands, filling that undefined area between the town and the country.

Footpath leading away from Hadley Common to Tudor Road, EN5
Footpath leading away from Hadley Common to Tudor Road, EN5

As the footpath came to an end, shortly before emerging on to Tudor Road, I spotted a football club hut. Whilst it looks boarded up and disused, I do wonder if it's opened up at weekend when, or indeed if, New Barnet FC play their home games.

New Barnet FC
New Barnet FC

New Barnet FC
New Barnet FC

I was unsure what to make of this next find. Neatly parked half in and half out of a suburban garage, it would seem to be a project.

Old van, Tudor Road, Barnet EN5
Old van, Tudor Road, Barnet EN5

Although I had no formal route in mind, I knew that to get to Cockfosters I would have to cross the main line route out of King's Cross at some stage. I could see the trains rushing past from some distance away but it was not immediately obvious how I could cross the tracks. Fortunately there was a convenient, graffiti adorned, subway.

Subway under the main line from King's Cross, north of New Barnet
Subway under the main line from King's Cross, north of New Barnet

Subway under the main line from King's Cross, north of New Barnet
Subway under the main line from King's Cross, north of New Barnet

The path of the subway then continues above some derelict ground.

Continuation of the subway path above ground
Continuation of the subway path above ground

After going beneath the railway line, the path continued over some derelict ground to the right.

Derelict land, New Barnet, London
Derelict land, New Barnet, London

 ... and something quite spectacular to the left. Regular readers may know I have many guilty pleasures, one of which is gas holders, or gas towers. I'm sure this one must be mentioned in my copy of London's Lost Power Stations and Gasworks, but I need to check. I think in my subconscious I may have known that one existed here, but as I exited the subway it took me by complete surprise and it is absolutely enormous.

Albert Road gas holder, Barnet, London
Albert Road gas holder, Barnet, London

Albert Road gas holder, Barnet, London
Albert Road gas holder, Barnet, London

Albert Road gas holder, Barnet, London
Albert Road gas holder, Barnet, London

I had no reason for taking this picture other than that it vaguely amused me after what was becoming a long and weary walk, still suffering from man-flu and feeling ever so slightly sorry for myself.

Road closed ... fortunately, near Cockfosters, London EN4
Road closed ... fortunately, near Cockfosters, London EN4

And finally, as my suburban wander came to an end, as I wandered wearily up the hill towards Cockfosters tube station, I was rewarded with a splendid view of the Christ Church.

Christ Church, Cockfosters, London EN4

This was a great suburban wander. Perhaps next time I'll head north and then west.

    

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