Wednesday, 9 March 2016

A Suburban Wander from Mill Hill Broadway to Mill Hill East, London N7

Inspired still by everthing connected to Metroland, and also more recently by Nick Papadimitriou's wonderful Scarp, I set out on my latest wander around the suburban delights of northern London as it reaches out towards the home counties and borderlands. My destination for today's drift was the area in and around Mill Hill. I'd only ever seen Mill Hill East as a spur off the Northern Line on the London Underground tube map and until today had never visited. I was vaguely aware that the line had once extended beyond Mill Hill East and had left some remnants behind, and also that I girl I knew at University went to a school in Mill Hill. Other than that I knew nothing about it.

My wander started from Mill Hill Broadway railway station where I alighted the train having taken it from St. Pancras twenty or so minutes earlier. I had no plans where I was going to head but seemed drawn to head up hill, and on seeing a B road heading to Mill Hill, my mind was made up.

As I wandered up the hill, past pleasant, suburban dwellings, it was a while before I felt any sort of desire to take any photos. This all changed however when I arrived at the top of the hill and headed south east along the Ridgeway when I arrived at a village pond, at the top of Milespit Hill. It wasn't quite as out of place as perhaps it might seem, as the whole area I had drifted into had a village feel to it. 

Village pond, Milespit Hill, Mill Hill
Village pond, Milespit Hill, Mill Hill

Unsure whether to continue along The Ridgeway I decided instead to descend Milespit Hill. This next picture is the view looking back up towards the pond.

Milespit Hill, Mill Hill
Milespit Hill, Mill Hill

After passing all the mansions on Milespit Hill, I was surprised to see an estate of boarded up flats as the road joined Pursley Road. Whether these are destine for renovation or demolition I could not tell. There seemed to be some behind these that were still occupied, so maybe the former.

Boarded up flats, Pursley Road NW7
Boarded up flats, Pursley Road NW7

Boarded up flats, Pursley Road NW7
Boarded up flats, Pursley Road NW7

Boarded up flats, Pursley Road NW7
Boarded up flats, Pursley Road NW7

Always interested in disused railways, I was delighted to come across the former Mill Hill to Edgware line. The next few pictures show the bridge crossing at Sanders Lane.

Bridge over the former Mill Hill to Edgware branch of the Northern line
Bridge over the former Mill Hill to Edgware branch of the Northern line

Bridge over the former Mill Hill to Edgware branch of the Northern line
Bridge over the former Mill Hill to Edgware branch of the Northern line

And this is the view looking down from the Sanders Road bridge.

The former Mill Hill to Edgware branch of the Northern line
The former Mill Hill to Edgware branch of the Northern line

As Sanders Lane came to an end and re-entered into suburbia, I came across this interesting block of flats, or more probably maisonettes, in an otherwise fairly low rise area. What caught my eye was the arches of the stair wells at each end of the block. I think my fascination is possibly also part caused by another recent read, John Grindrod's rather excellent Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain.

Block of flats, Sanders Lane, Mill Hill, London N7
Block of flats, Sanders Lane, Mill Hill, London N7

Now the only station on the spur of the northern line, Mill Hill East looks more like a country halt than a tube station.

Mill Hill East station, London N7
Mill Hill East station, London N7

As I continued my wander eastwards, my route took me under two bridges which carried the tube line. The first was a fairly standard, green, metal bridge.

Bridge carrying the northern line spur to Mill Hill East, London N7
Bridge carrying the northern line spur to Mill Hill East, London N7

The second bridge I walked under was of an altogether different size and scale. This is the magnificent Dollis Brook viaduct. I'll apologise now for the number of pictures of the viaduct, but as you can probably tell I was a little blown away by its beauty. The viaduct was designed by John Fowler and Walter Brydone. It has thirteen arches and is the highest part of the London Underground above ground level, at 60 feet.

Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7

Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7

Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7

Everything about this viaduct was spectacular, even the inside. The next two pictures are taken from directly beneath the viaduct, looking through the arches.

Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7

Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7

Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7

Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook Viaduct, Mill Hill East, London N7

And this is the brook, Dollis Brook, that the viaduct is named after. This whole area forms part of the Dollis Valley Greenwalk, which will be added to my ever increasing list of places to visit. I took this picture though mainly for a different reason as it reminded me of my childhood. I grew up in Ruislip Gardens, not a million miles from Mill Hill, although as I said previously I never ventured here, and this brook brought back memories of the Yeading Brook which we would paddle in and ford across in the long, hot summer holidays of the 1970's.

Dollis Brook, Mill Hill East, London N7
Dollis Brook, Mill Hill East, London N7

And so another suburban wander comes to an end. This one was immensely enjoyable. I will be back.

    

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